Plymouth appoints Town Clerk, postpones tax sales

At their May 16 meeting, the Plymouth Selectboard announced the appointment of their new Town Clerk, Jaclyn Olmstead, and discussed the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. Photo provided

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – In the May 16 meeting, the Plymouth Selectboard officially announced their newly appointed Town Clerk, went over the town’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, and agreed to delay the tax sales for the Hawk Properties.

After four “great interviews,” the Plymouth Selectboard appointed new Town Clerk Jaclyn Olmstead on Monday, May 9, and she began working immediately. Chair Jay Kullman said in a recent interview, “Jaclyn has a well-rounded resume and work experience, and possesses good customer service and communications skills that are essential to the role.”

Olmstead was appointed for a one-year position, which will require her to run for election at the end of the term. Kullman stated, “We are very confident that she’ll do well in the role and be elected to the position [again, next year].”

At the beginning of the meeting, Steven Bauer, from Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, made a presentation on the town’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan was last updated in 2015, and must be reviewed every six years, which TRORC assists with. The detailed document outlines a plan to mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from hazards and emergencies the town may encounter based on the 2015 plan and previous hazards documented over the years.

The purpose of the plan is to show the state that the town is working to identify possible hazards, and preventing them to the best of their ability. In the event of an emergency, the town can apply for financial assistance to recover from the impacts. Without the plan in place, the town wouldn’t be able to get funding.

The top five hazards recognized in 2022 that are most likely to happen are: flooding, winter storms, thunderstorms, high winds, and extreme temperatures. The state requires the town focus on and prepare for these hazards, but does not limit the town to them.

Hazards such as floods are organized in a table, and are mitigated by keeping culverts in good shape and up to date. Residents and board members discussed the sediment running into Amherst Lake as well as the Emerald Ash Borer invasive species as town hazardous concerns.

The board agreed to send the plan to the Vermont Emergency Management to be reviewed by the state for final approval and adoption. The full Local Hazard Mitigation Plan will be posted at a later date upon finalization.

The board then transitioned to a request from the town’s attorney, Bill Meub, to delay the tax sales on the Hawk properties. Though the town voted in their last meeting to move ahead with the tax sales, both Meub and the town’s tax sale attorney, Steve Ankuda, advised postponing for now.

Meub represents Hawk Resort International, LLC in the upcoming sale of their properties, and stated that they have a contract with “a very good purchaser” to sell what is known as Valley Four, and are expecting to close before July 1. From the proceeds of the sale, HRI intends to pay all of their taxes owed. Meub noted the remaining lots on the hillside are not currently being sold, but HRI does intend to sell those in the next five to six years.

Board member Keith Cappellini asked about the remaining lots, and if they are not being sold, “who is going to own them and who is going to continue to pay taxes?” Meub explained the hillside lots would still be owned by HRI, who will continue to pay taxes on those properties until they are able to sell them off. He claimed, “I believe we have the ability to pay, and I don’t think we have to prove our ability to pay moving forward… just as anyone else shouldn’t have to prove that they have the ability to pay [their future taxes].”

Meub also explained he would provide an agreement between HRI and the town ensuring that, out of the proceeds of the closing, the town will be paid entirely on the taxes currently owed. Meub suggested that Ankuda assist in the verbiage of the final agreement. Kullman requested legal advice from Ankuda, to which the meeting was brought into executive session.

Upon return, Kullman reported that Ankuda “felt that it was in the town’s best interest that the board appoint somebody to negotiate on behalf of the town and consult with him,” to make a final agreement with HRI. The board nominated Cappellini, and made the motion to delay the tax sale.

Meub commented, “When it closes, you will be very happy with what we think is happening with this property and what the potential is… It will really be beneficial for the Town of Plymouth.”

Board member Rick Kaminski then reported that they do not have any solid bids as planned for the town building renovation project. Out of seven potential bidders, they are down to one sole bidder, VMS Construction out of Rutland. Kaminski wanted to ensure they didn’t receive an inflated bid due to the contractor being the only bidder. Upon reaching out, they agreed to work together with an “open-book process.” Kaminski said the contractor “agreed to negotiate with us, show us all of the subcontract bids, vendor bids, material packages, complete estimate, lay it all out for us.”

VMS does plan to subcontract out certain parts for the project, like the panel system installation, which they didn’t have any solid estimates for to date, and they are also waiting on estimates from the vendor for the structural steel for the main frames. These numbers would affect an overall bid they would feel comfortable standing behind, which they hope to have within seven to ten days.

Kaminski recommended the board wait that time and allow for a bid to come through. He said, “I’m comfortable with this contractor to be upfront and straightforward with us, and show us all their numbers.”

The next selectboard meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 6 at 6 p.m.

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