Municipal Planning Grants Apps due April 30, 2010

Municipal Planning Grants (MPGs) will be offered again this year. MPG funds provide assistance for town planning and implementation. Information about the program is available online at: www.dhca.state.vt.us/Planning/MPG.htm.
Municipalities may apply for any amount up to $15,000 for single applications or up to $25,000 for multi-town (consortia) projects. No local match is required.

Approximately $250,000 is available for grants statewide in FY10.

Priority will be given to the following types of projects this year:
• Update of municipal bylaws for the purpose of bringing bylaws into conformance with the municipal plan by 2011 as required in 24 VSA §4401 & §4481.
• Developing or updating a municipal plan that addresses pressing planning concerns in the community. (A recently expired plan or pending expiration of a plan alone is not considered a priority.)
• Studies or activities furthering growth center planning that will help meet requirements for designation [24 V.S.A. § 2791].
• Studies or activities leading to a Vermont Neighborhoods designation application [24 V.S.A. § 2791(15)].

Please review the Program Description first for an overview of MPG program requirements and competitive criteria. The Application Instructions will orient you to the online application process and provides tips on preparing a competitive application. We encourage you to begin working on your application before the on line application is available on March 15th. You can start by meeting with appropriate boards and consultants and developing your work plan and budget using the sample application as a reference.

Application dates:
March 15, 2010 – Online application website available
March 23 – Training on the online application system, noon – 1 pm
April 16 – Training on the online application system, noon – 1 pm
April 30 – Application due date
Late May – Grant decisions

To register for the training or for any questions about the MPG program, please email Wendy Tudor or call: (802)828-5249 – direct line, or (800)622-4553 – toll free.

FY 2010 Municipal Planning Grants Funded

Apparently, the FY 10 State budget adjustment bill as passed by the Vermont Legislature includes $250,000 in funding for municipal planning grants for this current fiscal year. The Agency of Commerce and Community Development will be sending notices seeking grant applications. The deadline for applying will be April 30, 2010. If you have a need for GIS services or build out analyses, please contact CVRPC, particularly Dan Currier, our GIS Manager, at currier@cvregion.com. Let us know if there is any way we can help with the municipal planning grants.

Muncipal Bonds available; reduced interest rate

Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds

The Vermont Municipal Bond Bank (VMBB) has received authority from the
State of Vermont to issue up to $90.0 million in Recovery Zone Economic
Development Bonds (RZEDBs) in 2010.

RZEDBs are a category of Build America Bonds (BABs), used to fund
public infrastructure, facilities and equipment in “recovery zones”. The
entire State of Vermont has been declared a “recovery zone”. RZEDBs
are sometimes known as “super BABs”. Regular BABs are taxable bonds
with a 35% tax credit feature. RZEDBs are also taxable bonds, but with
a 45% interest payment subsidy. By passing the subsidy on to
participating municipalities, the VMBB is able to make a 20-year Recovery
Zone Economic Development Bond between 15% and 20% cheaper than
tax-exempt municipal bonds.

Interest rates change on a daily basis.

The final RZEDB pricing will be determined at the time the bonds are sold.
Eligible RZEDB borrowers include: counties; cities; towns; villages; school
districts; and other state recognized districts – the same definition as
those able to borrow on a tax-exempt basis through the VMBB.

Recovery Zone Economic Bonds can be used for the following:
1. New money capital expenditures for real and personal property;
2. Public infrastructure and facilities; and
3. Expenditures for job training and education programs.

In order to qualify for Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds, a
funded bond project must have started after February 16, 2009. A bond
anticipation note (BAN) may be refinanced by an RZEDB provided the BAN
was entered into after February 16, 2009 for a permissible use.

Like tax-exempt bonds, Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds
will require voter approval by Australian Ballot. Consult your local counsel
for advice and assistance with the bond approval process.

The VMBB will be using the same application process for Recovery Zone
Economic Development Bonds as that used for tax-exempt bonds. A
municipality wishing to be included in this July’s RZEDB pool will need to
file a VMBB application by May 15th along with the following: a CPA audit
of your municipality’s most recently completed fiscal year, a preliminary
bond counsel’s opinion; and three years of annual reports. See VMBB’s
website for further information on municipal finance and making application
for admission to the VMBB bond pool (www.vtbondagency.org).

To request an estimated debt amortization schedule or for more information
on Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and tax-exempt
bonds contact:

Robert W. Giroux, Executive Director
Vermont Municipal Bond Bank
20 Winooski Falls Way
Winooski, VT 05404
802-654-7377
bobg@vtbondagency.org

Central Vermont Energy Program

Central Vermont Energy Program

Background

The Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission has received economic stimulus funding to assist municipalities and the Washington County Court House with implementing energy efficiency measures. CVRPC has funds available to perform energy and lighting audits on municipally-owned buildings and potentially will have funds available to undertake subsequent weatherization measures identified by the audits.

CVRPC also anticipates receiving additional funding from the VT Department of Public Service to provide technical assistance to new and existing town energy committees with primary focus on committee development (i.e. capacity building) and project implementation. Anticipated start date is June 2010.

The overall goal of the Central Vermont Energy Program is to improve municipal energy efficiency and promote municipal energy committee sustainability. The Program period is three years, ending in December 2012.

Energy Audits and Weatherization Grants

Municipalities that wish to have a municipal energy and lighting audit undertaken and/or have access to weatherization funds are asked to enroll in the CV Energy Program. CVRPC anticipates funding at least two audits per municipality. To enroll, please complete the Central Vermont Energy Program Enrollment Form. (Contact CVRPC at 229-0389 or email cvrpc@cvregion.com to get a copy of the form.)

The Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission will contract with certified contractor(s) to perform the energy audits. The contractor(s) will be chosen based upon a competitive Request for Proposals process coordinated by CVRPC. The chosen contractor(s) will then schedule the audit process directly with the town. The contractor will be available to attend one public meeting to share the audit findings with the town. This will also be scheduled directly with the town. All audits will be completed by October 2010.

With a completed energy audit a municipality will have the necessary information to make informed decisions about steps to increase their buildings’ energy efficiency. CVRPC expects to have funding available to assist towns with the implementation of some of the audit recommendations.

Weatherization funding will be available to towns on a reimbursement basis. Towns will be responsible for hiring a professional contractor and/or coordinating volunteers to undertake the work. Funds will be allocated to towns on a per capita basis, currently estimated to be $3.00 per/person. For example, a town with a population of 4,000 may expect to receive $12,000 in weatherization funding. CVRPC will work with towns to identify and prioritize eligible, reimbursable weatherization work. For questions about the reimbursement process, please contact Laurie Emery at 229-0389.

Municipalities that have already received audits on municipal buildings by a qualified contractor are potentially eligible to receive weatherization funding assistance.

In order to track the success of the program, municipalities will be asked to provide follow-up information about the results of the audit, implemented work and other energy efficiency measures. Your town’s energy committee could be helpful with this reporting. CVRPC will provide a simple worksheet to be completed a year after the energy audit is completed.

Before having an energy audit, a municipality may want to consider the following suggestions:

a.) Form a team/steering committee – Identify a group of people who will be responsible for guiding the audit and weatherization process. This group can help by gaining municipal and public support of the process, coordinating volunteers to implement some of the weatherization measures, securing funding for audit recommendations, documenting and monitoring results, and developing a strategy for additional municipal energy efficiency improvements.

This may be the task of an existing municipal energy committee or could be an ad hoc committee. This could be a great catalyst to start a new energy team! For more information on starting an energy team, check out:

 The Vermont Energy and Climate Action Guide, available at www.vecan.net/publications.php.
 A Guide to Improving Energy Efficiency in Vermont Municipal Buildings, available at www.centralvtplanning.org/EnergyResources.html.

b.) Prioritize municipal buildings – Many towns have at least two municipal buildings, maybe more. Before deciding which building(s) to enroll in the program, we encourage you to review each building’s energy costs over the last 12 months (electric and heat) to better understand the current usage. Further, we encourage you to conduct a walk through assessment to visually inspect buildings to identify potential air leaks in basements, attics and walls; examine insulation levels; look at the status/quality of the heating equipment; and examine lighting and other electricity-using equipment. This information can help identify where the greatest gain could be in energy efficiency. For more information about what to look for during a walk through assessment see: The Guide to Improving Energy Efficiency in Vermont Municipal Buildings cited above.

c.) Identify additional funding sources – Audit recommendations may range from simple weatherization measures such as caulking around windows and changing out light bulbs to sealing air leaks in attics and basements and retrofitting a building’s heating and cooling system. The Central Vermont Energy Program is designed to help municipalities get a jump start on energy efficiency. However, some audit recommendations may exceed the program’s parameters. Municipalities are encouraged to identify additional funding sources to continue energy efficiency on the municipal level.

Resources

Below is a list of website and publications to assist with municipal energy efficiency:

 Guide to Improving Energy Efficiency in Vermont Municipal Buildings. Prepared by Paul Markowitz, VT Chapter Sierra Club. Includes info about building support, walk through assessments and energy efficiency resources and funding. www.centralvtplanning.org/EnergyResources.html.

 Clean Energy Guide Book: Understanding Vermont’s Clean Energy Resources. Prepared by Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Identifies resources and funding sources for business, local governments and citizens. www.vpirg.org/cleanenergyguide. .

 Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Historic Preservation: A Guide for Historic District Commissions. Prepared by Clean Air – Cool Plant. A Guide for preservationists, local energy committees and homeowners regarding energy efficiency in historic homes and buildings.
www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/for_communities/HDCGuide.pdf.

 Efficiency Vermont. Efficiency Vermont has a range of incentive programs for improving both electrical and thermal efficiency. www.efficiencyvermont.com.

 Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network. VECAN helps start and support town energy and climate action committees in their efforts to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance renewable energy projects. www.vecan.net.

 Clean Energy Development Fund. The goal of the Fund is to increase the development and deployment of cost-effective and environmentally sustainable electric power resources – primarily with respect to renewable energy resources, and the use of combined heat and power technologies – in Vermont. http://publicservice.vermont.gov/energy/ee_cleanenergyfund.html.

Request for Proposals for Municipal Energy Audits

Request for Proposals—Energy Audits

Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission is seeking consulting services to conduct detailed energy and lighting audits of municipal buildings within the 20 Washington County towns and the Towns of Washington, Williamstown and Orange in Orange County, and including the Washington County Courthouse in Montpelier. Proposals are due March 5, 2010. For a copy of the request for proposal, contact: Laurie Emery (802) 229-0389 or email: cvrpc@cvregion.com. You can also download the RFP without the ARRA and standard contract attachments at www.centralvtplanning.org and go to the energy page of the site. We hope to select an energy audit firm by the first week of April.

Safe Routes to School Applications

Please check the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) website for the Infrastructure Grant announcement and take a look at the Safe Routes to School application. There is a notice of intent that is required for this year’s process. Please contact Aimee Pope at VTrans, 828-5799, with questions. Here is the link to the VTrans web site and the Safe Routes to School application. The notice or letter of intent is new for this year.

http://www.aot.state.vt.us/progdev/Sections/LTF/SRTS/VTSRTS.htm

JAM golf case update

The Environmental Court recently issued a new ruling in the JAM Golf case on whether certain regulatory provisions in South Burlington’s 2003 regulations are sufficiently specific to guide a development review board’s decision-making. The decision is available at:
http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/GTC/Environmental/ENVCRT%20Opinions/03-194z.HighlandsMasterPlan.sjo.pdf

This and similar cases will be among the topics of discussion at the Vermont Planners Association’s spring workshop scheduled for April 23, 2010 at Vermont Law School.

Energy Grant Signed; Municipal Bldg Audits coming soon

Department of Energy ARRA grant: CVRPC today signed the agreement with the Department of Energy for the ARRA stimulus funding for municipal building audits. CVRPC will now prepare a RFP for energy audit firms and will keep the municipalities informed of the status. We anticipate that the selected firm(s) will contact municipal officials directly to arrange for energy audits of your municipal (not school) buildings, but we will let you know the process as soon as it is finalized. We will continue to keep you posted through staff reports and on our blog at www.centralvtplanning.org.

Staff will soon be mailing a project description and sign up form for municipalities to provide to us for participation in the municipal building energy audits to be known as the Central Vermont Energy Program. Please keep your eyes peeled for this forthcoming email and attachments. If you have questions, contact Laurie Emery or Clare Rock at 229-0389. Thanks!