Board reviews investments, emergency service
by Henry Millett
Oct 11, 2012 | 1263 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHITINGHAM- Representatives from BRG, Merchants Bank, and the Richards Group gave investment presentations to the Whitingham Selectboard at their regular meeting on Wednesday, October 3. Town treasurer Almira Aekus had invited the various representatives at the behest of the board, with the goal of increasing the interest income on the town’s money.

Dave Hallett of BRG presented the board with a multiyear annuity proposal, with many annuities coming to maturation at various times. Safety is the key benefit of an annuity, he said. Currently, the interest rate is guaranteed at 2% to 3%. The money invested by the town would be staggered. Aekus said she could invest $500,000, taking monies from various accounts, such as the highway equipment fund. Aekus said the interest earned would be spread out among the funds used for the investment.

Mike Mandracchia from the Richards Group urged the board to focus on market risk in considering investment opportunities. He offered the board a variety of proposals to increase their interest yield. Currently, money markets have a yield of 0.1%. Short term bonds offer another avenue, with durations of one to three years paying 1% to 2.5%. Safety and security come with certificate of deposits but the yield is less. Mandracchia said there are interest rates to worry about when considering this type of investment decision. Returns increase based on the increase of risk. Mandracchia advised the board to begin with a small step and see if they’re comfortable with this type of money management.

Kaye Rosenthal and Dave Laforest, trust officers from Merchants Bank, presented the board with a proposal for a sum of money of $500,000 that does not have to be accessed quickly. Their proposal was not suitable for the policy statement of the town regarding investments, according to the board. Merchants uses mutual funds in their investment strategy. Rosenthal said they have six portfolios. She recommended the most conservative portfolio, with 8% cash, accessible at any time, with returns over five years averaging 3% to 5%. Fees would be 0.8% on the invested amount of $500,000, about $4,000 a year. The more money invested the lower the fee. Aekus said she would review the proposals from the three companies with other town representatives and make a recommendation to the board. Chair Blanche Mills thanked the presenters.

School board members Seth Boyd and Dwight Williams met with selectboard members to discuss the school renovation project. There is no plan to use the Wilmington police at the middle/high school in Whitingham. Williams stated that the school board felt any policing decisions are the responsibility of the selectboard. Board member Greg Brown asked if there would be any security system incorporated in the renovation. Boyd said that there would be security measures in the new building. Boyd said a school resource officer could be hired if needed. Boyd stated that most schools in Vermont rely on the state police for police coverage. Boyd asked if there was any more information on the status of the Whitingham Ambulance Service.

Deerfield Valley Rescue representatives Heidi Taylor and Betty Hillman, also present at the meeting, said they would do anything possible to keep the Whitingham Ambulance Service viable, such as sharing personnel and other resources, but Deerfield Valley Rescue has no interest in merging with the Whitingham group. Taylor said they would not be responsible for the school facility in Whitingham but would serve as backup and provide help when needed. Deerfield Valley Rescue would be the service for the combined elementary schools in Wilmington. Keith Bronson asked the Deerfield Valley Rescue representatives how often they had been called to the high school in Wilmington. They said the average is about three calls per year.

Board member Alan Twitchell stated that the board would help the Whitingham Ambulance Service any way it could. Brown questioned how many times police had been called to the high school in the past. Boyd said they had the numbers and they are low. Boyd said the board should keep in mind that there would be more traffic, younger drivers on the roads, and other considerations with the high school in Whitingham. Williams said the state police should be contacted to let them know about the infrastructure changes in Whitingham.

Board member Karl Twitchell asked if the school board had considered snow plowing and transfer station usage with the new facility. Boyd said the school population would not change that much. He said that the school board had worked with road commissioner Stanley Janovsky to help design the new driveway to facilitate plowing. Brown asked who owns the school building. Boyd said the town school district owns the building.

In discussing increased traffic everyone agreed the corner of Wilmington Crossroad and Route 100 would be more difficult with increased traffic. Boyd said work on DVES would begin in Wilmington in November and work in Whitingham would begin next spring. The same company is doing the work in both towns. Bronson noted that merging supervisory unions was a good idea and he applauded the school board’s initiative in beginning a discussion of the issue.

The board amended the payables warrant to exclude a $180 payment to a town resident to replace a tire that the resident claimed had been punctured by a sharp rock on a road in Whitingham on the motion of board member Brown, who said it never should have been on the payables warrant.

The board instructed town administrator Bonnie Jo Radasch to keep working on the web page for the town with interested residents. The board went into executive session at 8:45 to discuss personnel.
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