Chittenden County Final 2019 Budget Meeting

January 25, 2018, 5:00 pm

 

 

Assistant Judge Connie Ramsey’s Remarks:

 

We held a preliminary budget meeting on Wednesday, December 14th noon.  We had only positive feedback about the budget from the attendees, so we kept the numbers as they were for presentation to you today. 

 

All the 17 towns and Gore, which comprise Chittenden County, received written notice of this meeting along with a copy of the budget we are presenting today. We have received some inquires by telephone about the numbers for clarification, but no complaints.

 

We assume the towns and Gore are happy with the numbers.

 

We also published an announcement for today’s meeting in various publications throughout Chittenden County along with a budget summary, looking for local citizen input and attendance.

 

We can only assume in their absence, with the exception of those present here today, the citizens of Chittenden County are happy with the numbers as well.

 

 

Personnel - County Officers, Elected and Appointed

This Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2018

 

• Last year Gregory Glennon was appointed Probate Judge for the retiring Probate Judge Susan Fowler. By all accounts Judge Glennon has been has been an asset to the county in his role as Probate Judge.

 

• Kevin McLaughlin finished his 31st year as Chittenden County Sheriff.

 

• County Clerk Anne Williams continued to not only act as County Clerk, but also Building and Grounds Manager at both the County Courthouse and the County Sheriff’s Building, as well as being the Passport Facilities Access Manager, and County Bookkeeper. Her financial and organizational skills are an asset to the county. She is also the eyes and ears of the County Properties.

 

• County Clerk Anne Williams continued her duties as the Buel’s Gore Town Clerk. During election time she also acted as the Senatorial District Clerk, as well as the County District Clerk.

 

• John Leddy continued to provide his valuable financial services as County Treasurer. John is also a trusted counsel for the County.

 

• The court hours of Assistant Judge Delaney and I have increased this year.  I attribute this to the unfortunate rise in family discord.  Drug addiction has caused strains on family life, and thus, an increase in Family Court cases are the result.  I also see family stress caused by the cost of living rising, and families not able to increase their incomes.  These situations affect families on many levels. There are many more contentious Family Court cases now than there were when I was first elected as Assistant Judge 7 years ago.

 

• Assistant Judge Delaney and I continued to use our Uncontested Divorce Qualification to preside over Uncontested divorce cases for the State.

 

• Assistant Judge Delaney and I continued to use our training in Civil Mediation, helping self-represented litigants in Family Court.

 

• I have started to work with Judy Sherry to recruit more much-needed, court-appointed, Guardian Ad Litem candidates. I have sent out press releases to the various Chittenden county papers and have also produced a flyer.  Also arranged for judges and seasoned GALs to speak. So far, we have 20 people interested in attending the February 1 informational meeting.

 

 

Building and Grounds Supervisor

This Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2018

 

• Christopher Danaher Property Services continued their important contract as Buildings and Grounds Supervisor for both the County Courthouse and the Sheriff’s Office. In addition to these daily duties, they are also contracted to clean both buildings.

 

 

Courthouse Building and Grounds

This Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2018

 

We continued to follow the 20-year engineer’s report to accomplish level funding of expenses for building upkeep and maintenance.

 

• The Matthew Katz Courtroom was updated with new carpeting, new paint, and newer jury chairs were swapped out of the 3rd floor courtroom.

 

• Obtrusively hazardous light fixtures were removed from the hallway outside of the second-floor jury room.

 

• The addition’s crumbling brickwork was replaced, and the area was repointed.

 

• One of the east side arches was sagging and was repaired. 

 

• The elevator was repaired, and brought up to the new fire code.

 

• The upgrade done to the Heating Ventilating Air Conditioning, or HVAC system from dial-up to DSL computerization continues to be working well. This automated system allows Building Supervisor Christopher Danaher to make program changes to the HVAC by using his phone or computer, from anywhere and at any time.  This project has derailed many and minor problems such as someone feeling too hot or cold, and possibly major problems such as frozen pipes.

 

• Recommended mechanical deficiencies in the HVAC system were fixed and upgrades were installed to make it run more efficiently.

 

• The 38 reheat coils that were re-piped with Belmo Valves and Actuators last year continued to work well by establishing “zones” of temperature control in the different areas of this 32,000 sq. ft. building.

 

• A refrigerant leak was detected and repaired.

 

• The HVAC system’s condensing unit was repaired.

 

• Lighting sensors for the interior of the building on the first, second and third floors, as well as the stair wells continue to save the county money on electricity.

These sensors automatically turn lights on when someone enters the room, and automatically turns them off after a period of inactivity.

 

• A new automatic, push-button door opener was installed for handicapped access.

 

• The new security door/buzzer system continues to work well.

 

• The old, worn out carpeting in Superior Court Clerk Chris Brock’s office was removed and replaced.

 

• The updated door security access system continues to work well.  This system is monitored and controlled by the county, rather than the old way which was paid for and maintained by the county, but monitored and controlled by a worker from the state.

 

• The County’s maintenance budget continues to be down because of upgrades we did in 2014 to the gas pipe that leads to the boiler.  The upgrades on the pipe continue to eliminate boiler breakdowns saving money on repair.  

 

• The deal we researched and negotiated with Unified Parking Partners continues to be beneficial to the County.  This enables us to offer parking in the county parking lot to the public during non-working hours.  This deal has increased the County revenue by an extra $2-4,000 a month, and has been advantageous to the community by providing downtown parking, while not affecting the employees of the building’s parking.

 

• The parking lot deal is especially timely because it appears we will no longer be getting revenue from Notaries. The Secretary of State is planning on taking over these duties, as well as the income.

 

• The October 29 wind storm severely damaged the Norway Maple trees that lined the County’s Main Street lawn.  There were hazardous branches hanging over the heavily-travelled Main Street sidewalk. Of the six trees, only four were affected, but the remaining two trees were ailing, and on one side of the lawn. Taking into consideration those facts, and keeping in mind the symmetric design of the building, we took down all 6 trees.  We are seeking input from the community as to what to replace them with. That process is on-going. We plan on taking and studying the community’s input, then consulting with experts on a landscape design, and planting in the spring.

 

• We have had good response to the revamped Passport Office which is now child-friendly with toys and books for the families to use. The Passport Office is run by Passport Facilities Access Manager Anne Williams and is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.

 

• A new passport camera was purchased.

 

• Broken vertical blinds were replaced.

 

• New, more secure Probate doors were installed in Judge Glennon’s chambers. This was a lengthy process as it had to be approved by the State for security issues, as well as approved by The National Parks Service U. S. Department of the Interior for aesthetic issues, due to the historic significance of this building, given the fact that the exterior was involved.

 

• An obtrusively hazardous light fixture in the Probate courtroom was removed.

 

• An area was created in the lobby outside of Probate’s administrative office with a table and chairs for filling out paperwork.  A half-door was created with a lock and shelf for consultation between the administrative personnel and the public.  This area enables the public to have a comfortable place to sit and fill out paperwork, and is an upgrade in security.

 

• Retired Probate Judges Susan Fowler and L. John Cain were honored for their combined 43 years of service to the county judiciary.  Portraits were commissioned by the Chittenden County Bar Association, and Judge Glennon hosted a very well attended unveiling ceremony. The portraits are now hanging in the Probate courtroom.

 

• Relaying bricks on west side of building was commissioned with a contractor to make the area more pedestrian-friendly. Our hope was that they would start on this project before end of last year.  We are in the process of finding a more suitable contractor to start and complete this job.

 

• Doors were re-wired to the fire alarm so that if the fire alarm goes off the doors will automatically close to keep smoke and flames at bay.

 

• The deteriorating window sills were scraped, glazed and painted.

 

• We added new plants to our perennial gardens on the west and north sides of courthouse. These gardens continue to beautify the grounds while saving money to the county on planting annuals.

 

• Repairs were made to the courthouse locker room, bathroom and shower in the employee fitness area. 

 

• One-time, annual maintenance duties were performed. These include outside window washing, slate floor protective sealant application and jetting of water and sewer lines, and steam cleaning of carpets.

 

• The lights were brightened in the front of the building for safety purposes, new globes to cover them were purchased and installed for aesthetic reasons.

 

• Two new historical “Chittenden County Courthouse Chronicle” articles were published by the Burlington Free Press and framed by the County. They tell of the history behind the county’s two courthouses, Costello Courthouse and Chittenden County Courthouse, and are on display in the lobby.

 

 

Personnel- County Officers, Elected and Appointed & Non-Personnel

Next Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2019

 

• County Clerk Anne Williams will continue to not only act as County Clerk, but also as Building and Grounds Manager at both the County Courthouse Building and the County Sheriff’s Building, as well as the Passport Facilities Access Manager, and County Bookkeeper, Buel’s Gore Town Clerk, and during elections, she is the Senatorial District Clerk, as well as the County District Clerk.

 

• John Leddy is expected to continue to provide his valuable services as a trusted counsel and as County Treasurer.

 

• Kevin McLaughlin will continue into his 31st year as Chittenden County Sheriff.

 

• Probate Judge Gregory Glennon will continue his good work as Probate Judge.

 

• Christopher Danaher Property Services will continue their contract as Buildings and Grounds Supervisor for both the County Courthouse and the Sheriff’s Office. They are also expected to continue their contract to clean both buildings.

 

• With the help of Anne Williams and Christopher Danaher Property Services, Assistant Judge Delaney and I will continue our duties as stewards to the county properties. Making sure they are properly facilitated for proceedings in accordance to our state statute.

 

• Assistant Judge Delaney and I will continue to provide fact finding and consultation with the presiding judge on Family court cases and non-juried Civil court cases.

 

• Assistant Judge Delaney and I will continue our education and hope to use this training in conjunction with the state, in helping self-represented litigants in Family Court.

 

• Assistant Judge Delaney and I will continue to work for the State presiding over uncontested divorce cases.

 

• Assistant Judge Delaney and I plan on attending the National County Judges’ Association convention in Williams, Arizona in May.

 

• I plan on continuing my education in county government to better serve the citizens of Chittenden County.

 

• I will continue to work with Judy Sherry and the court’s judges to recruit more much-needed, court-appointed, Guardian Ad Litem candidates.

 

• If time permits, I will continue writing about past courthouse stories in the forum called “Chittenden County Courthouse Chronicles”.

 

• Three Chittenden County Superior Court Judges have announced their retirement or have already retired. The Chittenden Bar Association has generously paid to have their portraits done. We will have an unveiling of these portraits after March 31. The three portraits will hang in the third-floor courtroom along with the other retired judges’ portraits.

 

• A rotating judges’ convocation will be hosted to welcome the rotating in judges, and bid fare-thee-well, until next time you rotate in to the rotating out judges. 

 

 

Courthouse Building and Grounds

Next Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2019

 

Continue to follow the 20-year Engineer’s report…

 

• Find a contractor to relay bricks on the west side of the building to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

 

• Find a contractor to relay bricks on the north side of the building to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

 

• Compile input from the community as to what to replace the fallen Norway Maples on the north lawn. After studying the community’s input, we will consult with experts and present them with the community’s input for consideration on a landscape design, hopefully get approval from the City, and will plant in the spring.

 

• Identify and remove any remaining obtrusively hazardous light fixtures.

 

• Identify and remove any remaining sagging arches in the building.

 

• Invest in a new laptop to control the HVAC System.

 

• Scrape, glaze and paint the remaining deteriorating window sills.

 

• Replace vertical blinds where needed

 

• Invest in a snow-blower.

 

• Carpets in the Law Clerk/Reporter suite and third floor chambers will be replaced

 

• Recessed lighting will be replaced where needed.

 

• Financially prepare for the loss of Notary income.

 

• Continue to financially prepare for the cost of security upgrades.

 

• Continue to add new plants to our perennial gardens on the west and north sides of courthouse.

 

• One-time, annual maintenance duties will be performed. These include outside window washing, slate floor protective sealant application, jetting out water and sewer lines, and carpet steam-cleaning.

 

• If there are leftover funds, we will archive (box, index and label) historic records and pay for them to be safely stored at the Vermont Historical Society.

 

 

County Sheriff’s Personnel 

This Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2018

 

• Brenda Carey continued as the County’s longest-term employee racking up 31 years as Sheriff’s bookkeeper and Office Manager Assistant. She has taken on Pat Cram’s duties while Pat was out caring for her gravely ill husband Mike.  We are all very appreciative of her good work, long work days and added responsibilities. She, along with Anne Williams, gave Pat their acquired sick days.  Pat is now back at work and very appreciative.

 

• Pat Cram continues with her stellar Office Manager duties, she is now back from helping her gravely ill husband Mike.

 

• As it is our normal practice, the county also contributed $10,000 toward a part time assistant to help Pat and Brenda with their duties.

 

These employees work for Sheriff McLaughlin, but are paid by the county.

The county also pays for Deputies’ training.

 

 

County Sheriff’s Building 

This Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2019.

 

• Obtained and installed a new closed-circuit camera system and printer.

 

• Obtained and installed a new intercom system.

 

• Added $4,000 to the training budget (the first of three years).

 

• Waxed and coated the floors.

 

• Steam cleaned the carpets in the spring and fall.

 

• Added new plants to the perennial gardens on grounds. These gardens continue to beautify the grounds while saving money to the county on planting annuals.

 

• Obtained and planted a new tree.

 

• Performed window maintenance.

 

 

County Sheriff’s Personnel 

This Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2018

 

• Brenda Carey will continue as the County’s longest-term employee as the Sheriff’s bookkeeper and Assistant Office Manager.

 

• Pat Cram will continue with her stellar Office Manager duties.

 

• We will continue to put 10,000 toward an assistant for Pat and Brenda.

 

 

County Sheriff’s Building 

Next Fiscal year, ending January 31, 2018

 

• Install new siding on the exterior of the building and paint the trim.

 

• Acquire and install a new sign for the exterior of the building.

 

• Add $4,000 to the training budget for two more years.

 

• Add new plants to our perennial gardens on grounds.

 

• Wax and coat the floors.

 

• Steam clean the carpets in the spring and fall.

 

 

Final Remarks

 

These projects have been overseen and directed by County Clerk Anne Williams, and implemented by Building and Grounds Supervisor Christopher Danaher.  All work done was reviewed and approved by Assistant Judge Delaney and me.

 

All checks written, are written by Anne, approved by signature by Assistant Judge Delaney and me, and lastly the checks are signed by County Treasurer John Leddy.  It is the best way to handle monies that I have seen.

 

Anne and Chris’ good work and responsible work ethic allows Judge Delaney and me to spend more time in court serving the people of Chittenden County in Family Court trials as well as Civil Court trials.

 

Their competence and drive make this strikingly beautiful, Beaux-Arts Style, century-old historic landmark, not only serve as a courthouse, but also as an aesthetically pleasing gateway to the shire town of Chittenden County -- Burlington.   The flowers, cleanliness and upkeep of the exterior of the building benefit all people that pass by.  The well-maintained, clean interior serves the community well for trials, notaries, and passports. 

 

The Sheriff’s building is also something we can all be proud of.

 

All in all, things are going well at Chittenden County Courthouse and Sheriff’s Department.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Connie Ramsey

 

rrrr.jpg