MARCH 4TH, 2015


President John Fike requested a count to determine if there was a full quorum.  Representatives from every county except for Orleans were present.

Joyce Scribner from Manchester motioned and Louise Ferris-Burt from Bethel seconded the motion to accept the minutes from the last Bi-Monthly VALA Meeting that were posted on the VALA website.

Treasurer Pauline Moore presented the financial report and indicated that nothing has changed financially since the last Bi-Monthly VALA Meeting on January 19th.  Balance at this time is $12,589.50.  A motion was made to accept the financial report by Lisa Truchon from Lincoln and Randy Viens from Essex seconded the motion.

Education Committee John Vickery announced TOEC would be held starting in April in Burlington, Lake Morey and Killington.  Land Grading is just one of the topics at the TOEC.  The date of the Excel Class being held at Lake Morey has been moved to the month of October.

President  John Fike announced a list of classes being offered by PVR has been sent out.  If anyone has not received a copy to let him know and a copy will be sent to them.

Results of the annual meeting survey were tabulated and the majority of those responding selected Lake Morey as the destination for this year’s Annual Meeting in September!   John Vickery has been discussing the break-out sessions with committee.  It was suggested that Attorney Charlie Merriman would be an excellent speaker at the annual meeting if he is available.  Deed Reading, Record Keeping and Data Storage were just a few of the suggestions for topics of discussion at the annual meeting.   Members were encouraged to think about topics they would like presented and things they would like to do at the annual meeting.  Contact John Vickery in Burlington with any suggestions or comments.

Members were reminded that the Annual Meeting is “their” meeting and VALA is “their” organization.

Legislative Committee Randy Viens discussed at length the Education Tax Bill, Subsidized Housing, Changes to CU and Solar Arrays.  There are a lot of changes in the Miscellaneous Tax Bill.  A Copy of CU article entitled “Changes to Current Use” by John Herrick was distributed to the Bi-Monthly Meeting attendees.

President John Fike discussed the evolving role of county delegates.

  • Keeping lines of communication open with towns in their counties.
  • Joyce Scribner from Manchester suggested phone calls to determine if there were questions about VALA they might have.
  • Paul Noble from Rockingham discussed membership enrollment date and what date applies to current enrollment year and what date would apply to the next enrollment year.

Revision and updating of the VALA marketing brochure and photos are being done at this time.  A lively discussion took place regarding VALA’s Mission Statement and whether or not it needed to be revised.  Key question is whether or not it is relevant to members as a group.  25-26 years ago Mission Statement was developed and members need to ask themselves if it is still relevant in today’s changing world.  Copies of the Mission Statement were available and a copy of John Fike’s report Setting the Direction for VALA ion 2015 and Beyond” was distributed at the meeting as well.

Education Committee Tom Vickery completed a brief overview of the mechanism of the state-wide education Tax.  VALA first came together in the early 70’s and was a small group that soon dissolved.  It ignited again in the mid 80’s.  At that time Tom Vickery was the only one going to the Legislature to get things done.  Idea at that time was to work for the good of the Listers.  VALA at that time gave their voice to make things better for the Listers.  Question today is have we overstepped our bounds?  We as a group are moving forward and come to meetings to get direction.  Where do you as members want VALA to go?  Do we broaden our scope?

  • John Fike stated he would like to see the organization grow. When you read the Mission Statement it is very general. When Act 60 came in 1968 the work of the Listers changed. Do you feel comfortable with the Mission Statement? There was a really good turnout at the last Bi-Monthly Meeting. Most non-profits go out of business because of external/internal changes. As an organization we want VALA to keep current with today.
  • Camila Roberts from Rockingham said VALA should have a unified voice and are actually speaking on behalf of all members. Suggest very specific votes at the annual meeting.
  • Paul Noble from Rockingham stated he has been canvassing Listers in Windham County. Western side of county does not participate in VALA and reasons given were “What does VALA do for me?” VALA needs to reach out to these towns on the value of VALA. VALA does provide a service and does provide value.
  • Louise Ferris-Burt felt Mission Statement was broad enough and if bound too tightly it would not be effective.
  • John Fike stated VALA will do whatever you want it to do. His job as President is to bring it up for discussion. VALA meets at the annual meeting in September and Legislature meets in January. Therefore there is always that time lag. Members need to remember Directors, President, Committee Chairs are all voluntary.
  • Tom Vickery from Waterbury stated we have to look at the time commitment. VALA needs to be a fair, equitable, unified voice.
  • Lisa Truchon from Lincoln stated assessment and tax policy for VALA should be “Best Practice in Place”. Need to draw the line and keep it clear. It can get muddled at times.
  • Bruce Shields from Eden stated part of the problem is the nature of issues. There is at
  • times high pressure and VALA has to be reactive at some point. Listers are subsidiaries of the Tax Department and do a lot of policing and that means our assessment is becoming, more peripheral in nature.
  • Legislative Committee Chair Randy Viens indicated that VALA is being asked for advice/opinion. The Senate Finance Committee wants to hear from VALA. VALA is respected and known now. There are various committees at the state capital who are calling for representatives from VALA.
  • John Fike said as an organization we are more proactive rather than reactive. VALA is now on the front line rather than the back end. Assessing is only one part of what we do and this is hard to do if positions within VALA are unpaid. We now have enough funds and need to keep growing in the future to possibly hire people for specific positions if necessary.
  • John Vickery stated that in the late 80’s VALA was responsible for surveys being field with town clerks. This would never have been passed if not for VALA. It was passed because of VALA’s “voice” being able to look at the big picture. Law would not have been passes if not for VALA.

President John Fike brought up the major undertaking of state-wide mapping.  Some towns are good with mapping and some towns are not there and there is yet a long way to go.  More important issue is that towns have funds to support tax mapping.

  • Vice President Todd Leblanc stated there have been a lot of meetings, a lot of misconceptions. The state does not want to take the towns maps away. Rather they want the data with one base system. Question is how can this benefit most towns? Who would update maps? Span # is the one number that is used throughout all towns and the state. That number would anchor each parcel in the whole system.
  • Bruce Shields from Eden uses Cartographics for their local digitized map.
  • President John Fike stated at some point VALA will need to take a position in the next year. Need to address what concerns there might be and determine process to take a position.
  • The firm assigned to do a cost analysis for state-wide mapping needs to understand their audience. Vermont is not MA or CT.
  • Discussed upcoming vacancies within VALA. President John Fike will be stepping down in September after six years as President. Treasurer Pauline Moore will be semi-retiring and stepping down. Should Vice President Todd LeBlanc considers the position of President and membership vote him in as President then the position of Vice President would become available. Membership Chair Penny Allyn will continue for one more year in her current position and then replacements will need to be selected for a Membership Chair, a Quarterly Newsletter Editor and someone to manage and update VALA’s Website. Presently Penny Allyn will continue to fill the vacant secretary position until September when a new Secretary will need to be elected. As an organization the greatest achievement will be to see VALA continue to grow and continue to promote the diversity of opinions. At present the positions are not paid but rather a labor of love. Members need to be reminded that VALA is the only voice in Vermont to represent Listers.

Vice President Todd LeBlanc stated that as an organization VALA cannot endorse a candidate to replace Steve Jeffries who is retiring from VLCT.  Individuals can however send in their personal endorsement for a candidate.  One candidate considering the position is Attorney Jim Barlow who has spoken at VALA Meetings in the past and would be considered an excellent replacement choice.

Meeting adjourned at 10:05 am.  Lisa Truchon from Lincoln made the motion to adjourn, and Joyce Scribner from Manchester seconded that motion.

Meeting adjourned at 10:08 am.

Minutes respectfully submitted by,

Penny Allyn

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