BY GABRIELLA MARCHESI | COMMUNITY NEWS SERVICE | APRIL 8, 2020
Hinesburg town offices closed to the public on March 16 and since then all essential services have continued to operate including the police and fire departments, water and wastewater management, and the highway department, with adjustments to staffing and daily routines to follow social distancing guidelines put forth by Gov. Phil Scott.
All Town Hall staff are working from home with the exception of the Town Clerk, Melissa Ross. To make the switch to remote services, Town Administrator Renae Marshall says employees now have remote computer access and the phone system is now forwarding calls from the offices to voicemail boxes accessible from home.
“Basically, everyone is continuing to function in their roles but just in completely different ways than we did before,” Marshall said. “We are continuing to make adjustments as needed and will likely be making more before this is over.”
Below is a run-down of changes to town functions in the wake of the governor’s COVID-19 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which is currently in effect until at least April 30. Gov. Scott on Wednesday said he anticipated having an update to the order on Friday, April 10.
Remote Select Board
Marshall explained that the Hinesburg Select Board and other town government boards and committees are now meeting virtually through the online meeting platform, Zoom. To attend, participants need a specific Zoom meeting link and access code or telephone number to call in. The link, code, and phone number are available at the top of the meeting agenda and posted on Front Porch Forum, the town website and Facebook page.
The public may participate in meetings using a computer, smartphone or by dialing in via phone. Meeting recordings will also be available for viewing after the meeting on the VCAM website.
The Select Board has conducted two online meetings so far, Marshall said. The Development Review Board had its first remote meeting on Tuesday and both the Town Forest Committee and the Planning Commission were scheduled for online meetings Wednesday.
Marshall said she expects that more committees will start to utilize the online meeting platform option soon.
Details on upcoming meetings and how to attend online will be posted on their pages on the town website, hinesburg.org.
Ross said she is continuing to perform many of the necessary functions of local government such as paying bills and processing payroll while working from home.
Ross said the town has extended the dog license deadline – usually April 1 – to May 1 and it may be extended even later. To process a dog license by mail, send in a $10 check per dog and a copy of a valid rabies certificate to Town Hall. Ross said pet owners may call to see if they already have a valid rabies certificate on file.
Ross said her office is continuing to help attorneys, appraisers, banks and realtors with records requests when possible – but it is no longer allowing title searches or performing notarizations.
The town also has temporarily postponed the quarterly water and sewer billing, Ross said.
Parks & Recreation
The Bissonette Recreation Area and Town Hall Field are both closed to the public, according to Recreation Director Jennifer McCuin.
Lyman Park and Wainer Park at Hinesburg Community School, which are both under the jurisdiction of Champlain Valley School District, are also closed.
All activities have been canceled until further notice with the exception of piano lessons. Current piano students are able to continue their lessons via Zoom.
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