The Brewers Association of Denver, CO has calculated that Vermont has more breweries per capita than any state in the United States, and this weekend will see the opening of yet another. The Vermont Brewers Association is proud to announce the opening of Grateful Hands Brewing located in Cabot at 2211 US Route 2. On Saturday September 8, 2012 from 1 to 7 PM owner and head brewer Ricky McLain will be pouring samples and selling growlers of his beers. Specializing in dark beers, his initial offerings are ‘Common Sense,’a Black IPA, ‘Time,’an American Brown Ale, ‘Spare Change,’a Robust Porter, and ‘Courage,’an American Stout. Common Sense, a Black IPA. 5.2% ABV with 68 IBU. Lots of 2-row and Munich malts, with a touch of chocolate and Carafa III. Hops are Summit, Simcoe, and Chinook, with a healthy dose of all three for dry hops as well to make a dry, grapefruit rind flavor and aroma balanced with a touch of roast and maltiness. Time, an American Brown Ale. 5.0% ABV with 39 IBU. This is a balanced beer with a nice malty flavor complemented by only late hops (columnbus and apollo); no “bittering” hops to give it a great hop flavor and aroma without much hop bitterness. Spare Change, a Robust Porter. 6.1% ABV with 39 IBU. Loads of Marris Otter are balanced with English floral hops (East Kent Goldings and Fuggles) to give this a malty, creamy flavor and mouthfeel. Courage, an American Stout. 6.8% ABV with 65 IBU. 2-row malt is complemented by healthy doses of chocolate, roasted barley, and dark crystal malts to create, a rich coffee, toffee, roasty ale. Cascade hops are added at the end of the boil to balance the maltiness and give the beer a nice, subtle citrus aroma. Considered a nano-brewery because of the size of each batch of beer (20 gallons), McLain expects to sell just growlers to start with from the brewery and at farmer’s markets, but wants to be bottling eventually. In addition to the first four beers, he hopes to offer seasonal beers as well. He is planning to make an extra stout for St. Patrick’s Day, and is working with a coffee roaster on a coffee stout for this winter.Vermont Brewers Association Executive Director Kurt Staudter is thrilled with the new brewery. ‘Vermont is the Disneyland of beer, and with the addition of Ricky at Grateful Hands, that gives us 26 breweries,’said Staudter. Adding, ‘And I love dark beers, Yum! He’s sure to be a success.’Ricky McLain says, ‘My motto is Small Batch Dark Ales,’and he begins each beer name with the expression ‘Because everybody needs a littleâ ¦ (Insert beer name here).’His enthusiasm for the brewer’s art is contagious, and passion for dark beers is reflected in his hand crafted small batch offerings.Source: VT Brewers Association www.vermontbrewers.com(link is external) www.brewersassociation.org(link is external)
Stephan Morse, chair of the Vermont State Board of Education (SBE), has announced the appointment of a committee charged with conducting a national search for the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Education: Bill Mathis (Brandon, VT);Bonnie Johnson-Aten (Montpelier, VT);Stacy Weinberger (Burlington, VT);Stephan Morse (Newfane, VT). The committee’s charge will include the following: · Post the position of Secretary of the Agency of Education locally and nationally;· Review applications;· Interview candidates;· Recommend three candidates to the full SBE for consideration (fall 2013);· Recommend three candidates to the Governor (fall 2013). The committee met on May 17th to launch the search and will meet over the summer to review applications. The timeline calls for the search committee to reach a decision by September 1st. “Vermont has an exciting, developing educational system due to the leadership of Vermont’s first Secretary of Education, Armando Vilaseca. Now the State Board of Education is launching its second search for the next Secretary of Education. As our Governor, Peter Shumlin, has focused his second administration on educational issues, this will be an inviting time for creative educational leaders to consider a position in Vermont.” More information about the Vermont SBE, including membership and meeting materials, can be found online: http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/mainboard.html(link is external).
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to pay $12,000 in civil penalties and $6,000 to fund a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) under a proposed Final Judgment Order entered into with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office to settle claims that the Agency’s RA LaRosa Environmental Laboratory failed to make a hazardous waste determination prior to shipment, and failed to timely investigate and report on a hazardous waste shipment.‘Like all other laboratories, the Agency is accountable for its non-compliance with environmental laws,’ said Attorney General William H Sorrell. ‘However, to its credit, the Agency self-reported these violations to our Office, cooperated fully with our investigation, and took responsibility for the incident,’ Sorrell added.In the proposed Final Judgment Order filed with the Washington Superior Court, Civil Division, the Agency admits to 3 violations of Vermont’s hazardous waste management rules. The violations were documented in a March 2013 Exception Report that the Lab sent to the Agency’s Waste Management & Prevention Division and the Attorney General’s Office.The SEP payment is intended to create a fund managed by the Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust to conduct audits at Vermont school laboratories and to provide grants to Vermont schools to improve school laboratory safety. Pleadings by Agreement, a Stipulation for the Entry of Final Judgment Order, and a proposed Final Judgment Order have been filed with the Washington Civil Division, and the settlement is subject to approval by that Court.Source: Vermont Attorney General, January 21, 2014
Mayor Miro Weinberger Monday evening delivered the State of the City Address in City Hall’s Contois Auditorium during which he reported that the City of Burlington has turned the corner in its pursuit of fixing its municipal finances. The mayor was joined by the City Council, former Burlington Mayor Frank Cain, city department heads, other members of the city employee team, and community members. “As we take stock of the past year, I see many signs of progress and can confidently say that, after two years of focus and resolve to fix our troubled municipal finances, we have turned the corner, and the State of the City is steadily and measurably improving,” Weinberger said. (See full text below)The Mayor set forth four major components of his plan to resolve the City’s remaining serious financial issues: · Finishing the major financial efforts already under way; · Confronting directly the dramatically rising costs of both K-12 education and our retirement system to stem the unsustainable growth of property taxes we have experienced over the last decade; · Focusing on long-term, careful stewardship of our municipal assets; and· Increasing municipal revenues from sustained economic growth. The Mayor concluded his address as follows: “In closing, the Administration’s top focus must remain fixing the City’s finances in the year ahead. In addition, I am confident that, as we have done during the past two years, we will continue to move forward in many areas by sharing the governance and management of the City with the people of Burlington. From the unprecedented, two-year long planBTV that engaged thousands of citizens in a range of public settings and online, to the rebuilding of the waterfront and the Moran building through a competition open to all, to the collaborations between our business community, advocacy groups, and institutions that are shaping City parking policy, active transportation policy, and the new economic development strategy of BTV Ignite, to pioneering the use of the SeeClickFix smartphone app to empower citizens to report and monitor quality of life issues in their neighborhoods, to opening up the City’s data so that a new generation of civic hackers can use technology to make a better Burlington, to weekly open coffees at the Bagel Cafe, City government is engaging its citizens more broadly and productively than ever before. “With so many citizens moving Burlington forward in so many ways, we know we have turned the corner, and we know our brightest days as a City are on the horizon ahead.” State of the City Address Good evening and welcome to City Hall for our annual night of reflection, assessment, and democratic renewal. As is our tradition, I would like to share with you the state of our City and my vision for the year ahead. First, I would like to recognize and thank former Burlington Mayor Frank Cain, his wife Mary Jane, and daughter Susan for joining us again tonight. When I enter the Mayor’s Office every morning, I pass your photograph from your service during the years 1965 to 1971, along with those of the 34 others who have served as Mayor of Burlington since the City’s founding in 1865. Your photograph and presence here tonight remind me that the greatness of Burlington is built on a solid foundation of 149 years of hard work, good judgment, and shared sacrifice. It is our responsibility to work with urgency and purpose to carry forward the legacy of progress that you and others have left in our temporary safekeeping. I welcome back to the City Council long-time Burlington public servant and State Representative Kurt Wright and two first-time elected officials Selene Colburn and Bianka LeGrand. As a City that seeks to embrace its growing diversity and understands that our future success is tightly tied to our ability to be an inclusive community, I share with you what I see as the special significance to Bianka’s election. Since the early 1980s, Burlington has officially been a federal refugee resettlement community, and over three decades, we have welcomed to Burlington New Americans from more than 25 countries. Bianka is part of that Burlington story, having come to this country from war-torn Bosnia as a 17-year-old, then graduating from Burlington High School, UVM, and with a master’s degree from Norwich University, then establishing herself as a business woman and teacher. With her swearing-in tonight, Bianka has become the first member of any of these recent New American communities to be elected to this Council, proving that the ageless American story of immigration, hard work, and success that has defined our country continues. I offer deep congratulations to Bianka and her family for this achievement and, Bianka, I thank you for what you already have done for this City even as you begin your elected service this evening. I would like to thank former Councilors Bryan Aubin, Paul Decelles, and Kevin Worden, who have just completed their service to our City as Councilors and encourage them to stay engaged in moving our City forward. We all have benefited from their service to Burlington. I also would like to welcome back the eleven veteran members of the City Council. I look forward to another year filled with debate, joint decisions, respectful disagreement at times, and partnership always, as we together attempt to put the City on the best path forward. In addition, we are joined tonight by nearly every Department Head and many other members of our dedicated City employee team, all of whom work long and often stressful hours every day to make our community a better place in which to live. I could not be more proud of the energetic, responsive, creative, and committed group currently occupying the leadership roles in City government. I ask all of the Department Heads and other City employees who have joined us tonight to stand and be recognized for all that you do for our community. Also, I say thank you to the families of our City workers, who play special roles in moving our City forward by supporting their loved ones who work so hard and give so much focus to their work to make Burlington an even better place. One of those City worker family members is my amazing wife Stacy, who is here with us this evening. Stacy, thank you for your unwavering support and partnership through the many challenges of these last two years. I also want to thank my father for being here tonight, and for all he did to prepare me for this work. Finally, I am thankful that tonight’s re-organizational meeting is taking place on the day that, at long last, we received some clear evidence that the winter of 2013-2014 will eventually end, and on an evening when the buses in our community are rolling once again. As we take stock of the past year, I see many signs of progress and can confidently say that, after two years of focus and resolve to fix our troubled municipal finances, we have turned the corner, and the State of the City is steadily and measurably improving. This turning of the corner is demonstrated in ways both large and small. We know we have turned the corner because we have ended the secretive and destructive financial practices of the past. For the first time in memory, we now follow the standard practice of generating and publicly releasing monthly financial reports and reviewing them at the Board of Finance. Also, as part of the City’s new open data portal, the City’s general ledger now is visible to all online and updated daily. We know we have turned the corner because the credit ratings at the Airport and the Burlington Electric Department have finally officially stabilized after dramatic downgrades in recent years. We know we have turned the corner because State Treasurer Beth Pearce and the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank recently cited the City’s improved financial condition as the basis for a new bond issue, saving Burlingtonians millions of dollars in the years ahead. And, most significantly, we know we have turned the corner because we have secured and are in position to fund a Settlement Agreement that will, when completed, resolve the Burlington Telecom problems that have haunted the City for more than four years. I am pleased that the recent and important step of securing bridge financing was made possible by a local businessperson and bank – Trey Pecor and Merchants Bank – and believe that it puts the City on the strongest footing possible for completing the Settlement Agreement and for maximizing the community and economic development potential of BT. This progress should serve as an indication that the hard work and shared sacrifices of the past two years are producing results, and should give us the confidence we need to keep moving forward. I ask the Council, our public employee unions, and our incredibly engaged community to remember that the financial hole we were in two years ago was very deep, and our climb out is far from over. In the year ahead, we must remain focused on financial discipline and progress towards resolution of our remaining serious financial issues. I see four major components of the remaining financial work that we will tackle together. First, we must finish the major financial efforts already underway. It is critical for our financial future that we secure approval of the Burlington Telecom Settlement Agreement from the Public Service Board. As we pursue this approval, it is important that Burlingtonians and organizations invested in Burlington’s progress remain unified in their support of the Agreement, which was unanimously approved by the Council. Further, we must complete the work of improving financial practices and internal controls that reduced by one third the number of negative findings in our most recent audit. And we will continue and deepen the efforts to find operational efficiencies that reduce the cost of effective governance that have saved the City many hundreds of thousands of dollars since the beginning of fiscal year ’13. Second, to complete our restoration of the City’s finances, we must confront directly the dramatically rising costs of both K-12 education and our retirement system to stem the unsustainable growth of property taxes we have experienced over the last decade. The results of last month’s Town Meeting Day demonstrate that this work can no longer be avoided. For many months, my Administration has been taking steps to address these complicated challenges head on. Last fall, we held a well-attended and detailed Pension Summit that identified a number of issues about Burlington’s Employee Retirement System warranting further discussion. In response, my Administration and the City Council, in consultation with Retirement System stakeholders, created the Burlington Retirement Committee with representatives from each stakeholder group to discuss the challenges the System faces and reach consensus on a path forward. The Committee has been meeting since January and is making progress developing a shared understanding of the drivers of our unfunded liability and increasing retirement system costs, as well as the options we have for addressing this issue. I remain committed to finding a comprehensive resolution that puts our retirement system on a more sustainable footing and that respects the interests of City employees and taxpayers. With respect to education costs, while the Mayor and City Council are not directly responsible for the school budget, we have a duty to ensure that the property taxpayers who we share with the School District are not overly burdened and that financial support is available for municipal services, as well as the schools. To this end, my Administration is working to address the unsustainable trends in Vermont education costs in two ways: First, we have secured an agreement from the Burlington School District to create a joint committee to oversee an unprecedented effort to coordinate municipal and school capital spending, explore the possibility of combining financial functions, and explore together what opportunities there are for regional savings. I am committed to this effort being one of the top priorities of the CAO’s Office over the next year, and I welcome the partnership of the City Council in this initiative. We look forward to starting this work as soon as the new School Board, whose members are being seated tonight, selects three representatives. Second, I am working hard in multiple ways to impact state education policy, as it is clear that state policy-makers also need to focus on this issue if we are going to be successful at changing the trajectory of unsustainable education cost trends. Some of the major drivers of education costs – state mandates and state interpretation of federal policy, state property tax policy, and a shrinking statewide student base – are beyond the ability of local school boards to control. That is why I have encouraged the Vermont Mayors Coalition and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to make this issue a high priority for this legislative session. I am pleased that the State Legislature has responded to these and other calls for action with: 1) a significant reduction in the planned statewide property tax increase for next year; and 2) serious consideration of a change to the state’s out-of-date education governance structure. While I am confident that these efforts will yield results over the medium- and long-term, the Burlington School Board faces the immediate challenge of passing a fiscal year ’15 budget that both respects the strong message from voters on Town Meeting Day and does right by our children. Like the Council and the public, I am looking forward to seeing a new, complete budget to consider. As the School Board approaches this difficult task, I urge them to put forward a budget that reduces next year’s proposed property tax increase and maintains Burlington’s strong commitment to both the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in our schools and to the voluntary economic integration of our schools. Our future success as a City in the increasingly global economy depends, in part, on all our children thriving in Burlington schools and growing to meet their full potential. Third, to restore the City’s finances, we must focus on long-term, careful stewardship of our municipal assets. In the last two years, we have taken significant steps in this direction by making maintenance and improvement of our parks, the bike path, and our municipal buildings a high priority, and the results are beginning to show. Over the last two years, we have eliminated a long backlog of Penny for Parks projects, improving over 40 parks throughout the City, and by the end of fiscal year ’15, we will do the same with our municipal facilities, eliminating a more than $1 million backlog of maintenance and improvement projects that had been funded by taxpayers in prior years, but not built – projects that include everything from crucial life safety installations in the library to boiler upgrades throughout the City that will pay for themselves in well under a decade. However, we must do much more. Overall, our infrastructure continues to degrade at a faster rate than we reinvest, and there is no comprehensive, coordinated plan for properly caring for the community assets we have inherited. I have directed the CAO’s Office to lead an effort to craft an affordable and comprehensive 10-year capital plan for presentation to the City Council for approval no later than Town Meeting Day 2015. This plan will include responsible investments in our roads, sidewalks, municipal buildings and parking garages, our water, sewer, and stormwater system, the bike path, parks, and our schools. The plan also will include better management of our fleet of over 250 vehicles to reduce maintenance and fuel costs, as well as capital costs. I see this plan as a key document for ensuring that we make good on our responsibility to leave the City in better shape than it was when we started. Finally, to achieve long-term financial success as a City, we must increase municipal revenues from sustained economic growth. Our City has considerable opportunity for such growth. Our waterfront already generates more than $1 million a year in revenues that fund Parks and Recreation programs, even with the northern waterfront and southern waterfront dramatically underutilized. There is enormous pent-up demand for new revenue-generating housing in our downtown. Since the year 2000, our downtown has seen only about 120 new market rate homes developed. This number is far below the percentage of housing growth experienced in peer cities during this same period, when downtown housing grew dramatically across the country for many years. A well-planned Pine Street corridor will enhance the organic, tech-driven growth we already are seeing in this dynamic part of the City. Our reinvigorated Community and Economic Development Office is focused on these and other economic development opportunities. CEDO is on its way to reclaiming its historic role as an engine of economic growth and innovation through the promotion of new ideas, new technology, new businesses, and new jobs. For the first time in many years, we actively are moving our waterfront projects forward with a series of new public improvements that, when completed, will leverage over $35 million dollars of additional investment and more than $15 million of new economic activity annually. The BTV Ignite initiative, launched at last fall’s Tech Jam in partnership with many community institutions and organizations, and our emerging tech sector, promises to harness our fiber network to accelerate the growth of our creative economy. An early win in this economic development effort came little more than one week ago with the incredibly successful launch of Generator, Burlington’s first makers space located in the basement of Memorial Auditorium. Again, however, we have much more work ahead to grow the grand list and increase other tax receipts, while also meeting the livability, walkability, and sustainability goals of planBTV. We will focus on a number of areas for revenue growth in the coming year. First, in the year ahead, we will stay focused on the implementation of the voter approved improvements to the waterfront that have the potential to dramatically increase municipal waterfront revenues. Second, we will continue to target our economic development funds and seek regulatory changes that will encourage the creation of new housing in the downtown as envisioned in planBTV. This new housing will generate additional property taxes, while also increasing opportunities for family housing in the City, and making Burlington more pedestrian-friendly, environmentally sustainable, and affordable. Finally, we will launch a planBTV effort for the Pine Street corridor to lay out a vision for walkable, environmentally responsible investment in the dramatically underutilized areas west of Pine Street that complements the treasured historic neighborhoods nearby. In closing, the Administration’s top focus must remain fixing the City’s finances in the year ahead. In addition, I am confident that, as we have done during the past two years, we will continue to move forward in many areas by sharing the governance and management of the City with the people of Burlington. From the unprecedented, two-year long planBTV that engaged thousands of citizens in a range of public settings and online, to the rebuilding of the waterfront and the Moran building through a competition open to all, to the collaborations between our business community, advocacy groups, and institutions that are shaping City parking policy, active transportation policy, and the new economic development strategy of BTV Ignite, to pioneering the use of the SeeClickFix smartphone app to empower citizens to report and monitor quality of life issues in their neighborhoods, to opening up the City’s data so that a new generation of civic hackers can use technology to make a better Burlington, to weekly open coffees at the Bagel Cafe, City government is engaging its citizens more broadly and productively than ever before. With so many citizens moving Burlington forward in so many ways, we know we have turned the corner, and we know our brightest days as a City are on the horizon ahead. To the Council, to the public, thank you and I look forward to another year of pursuing this important and deeply rewarding work together. # # #Source: Mayor’s office 4.7.2014
Dealer.com,Dealer.com, based in Burlington, a Dealertrack Technologies Solution (Nasdaq:TRAK), announced the addition of e-Dealer Solutions and CallSource to its Certified Provider Program. As part of the program, e-Dealer’s and CallSource’s trusted technologies are seamlessly integrated into the Dealer.com solution, providing dealers and OEMs with advanced analytics and training to help retailers convert more leads into sales. Customers have easy access to these new technologies through the Dealer.com ControlCenter.”Dealerships need to have the right software tools and sales approach to work successfully with today’s car shopper, who is doing the majority of their research legwork online,” said Mike DeCecco, director of Business Development at Dealer.com. “At Dealer.com, we are dedicated toward helping our dealer customers leverage the advanced tools that bring them closer to their customers and to closing the deal. We are proud to add these two providers, e-Dealer Solutions and CallSource, to our Certified Provider Program, both of which play an important role in strengthening customer service.”To qualify for Dealer.com’s Certified Provider Program, companies and their products must have proven value, security, efficiency, and return on investment, giving customers added assurance that they are choosing high-quality, complementary software and services.e-Dealer Solutions provides car dealerships with online, in-person and DVD-based training to improve salespeople’s phone skills, e-mail compositions, and daily operating processes. The company’s on-demand training modules enable dealerships and their sales teams to establish guidelines for effective communication with customers, leveraging online communication, e-mail, phone and voicemail, as well as value-added showroom appointments to increase the likelihood of sales.”Many customers continue to contact dealerships through phone calls and emails, and that first point of interaction is critical to the success of the deal,” said Jennifer Suzuki, founder and president of e-Dealer Solutions. “It’s essential that salespeople master phone and email skills to handle inquiries effectively, and having our solution seamlessly integrated into the Dealer.com makes it easier than ever for dealers to access these tools. Our online training programs focus on building the necessary skills salespeople and managers need in today’s dynamic automotive market.” CallSource offers OEMs and dealerships advanced call-tracking technologies to collect business intelligence about online shoppers and evaluate the effectiveness of dealer marketing programs. Automatic call tracking technologies filter out irrelevant contacts to deliver only real prospect contacts to sales teams, count the average time spent on each call, provide real-time alerts of missed calls and determine which marketing sources produce the most leads. Combining this actionable call data with insight from CallSource’s team of analysts, dealerships can also identify opportunities to strengthen sales skills and provide appropriate training to help increase lead generation and better convert sales.”Our goal is to empower dealers to increase their sales and marketing performance by streamlining access to our services,” said Andrew Price, president of CallSource Automotive. “Teaming up with Dealer.com allows us to more effectively measure dealership performance and provide more accurate ROI analysis for Dealer.com customers through one easy platform.”Both e-Dealer Solutions and CallSource are available now through the Dealer.com Certified Provider Program(link is external).For more information on applying for the Certified Provider Program, click here (link is external)or contact [email protected](link sends e-mail).About Dealer.com (www.dealer.com(link is external))Dealer.com, a Dealertrack Technologies Solution (NASDAQ: TRAK), provides an integrated platform of Inventory, Advertising, Website and CRM products which allow OEMs, dealer groups, retailers and agencies to leverage advanced digital technology and data to better engage and connect with their customers. Based inBurlington, Vermont, Dealer.com practices a deep commitment to its culture of innovation, with a focus on health and wellness, making it one of the most desirable places to work, and a valuable partner for automotive retailers.SOURCE BURLINGTON, Vt., April 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Dealer.com
Today, November 1, 2014, the City of Burlington will initiate the first phase of changes to the downtown parking system, including new credit card reading parking meters, improved garage facilities, new rates, and new hours of enforcement. The changes have been designed to improve the customer experience and create a financially sustainable parking system. The community is invited and encouraged to provide feedback to the City and its parking consultant teams on all aspects of additional downtown and residential City parking at a public forum on Wednesday, November 19 from 7-9:30 pm in City Hall’s Contois Auditorium.“Improving the parking system will drive our economy forward,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “New technology, a more efficient customer experience, and more sustainable parking infrastructure complement our exciting downtown. These changes represent a significant investment in our City’s transportation system and a sustainable, data-driven future.”“Good parking policy is responding directly to what customers want,” said Kelly Devine, Executive Director of the Burlington Business Association, one of the initiative’s leaders. “Burlington businesses have identified smart parking policy and well-maintained infrastructure as critical to the health of downtown. The number one complaint we’ve heard over the past year is lack of payment options – being able to use a credit card and pay for as much parking as needed will result in a better customer experience. We are thankful to the City for partnering with the BBA on this important initiative.”“We look forward to leveraging the data collected from our new smart meters to help guide future changes in rates and times of enforcement to reflect market demand,” said Chapin Spencer, Director of the Department of Public Works. “We will continuously fine-tune our parking system to reach our goal of ensuring that parking spaces are available whenever and wherever Burlingtonians and our visitors are parking downtown.”The changes come after more than one year of stakeholder meetings and significant data-gathering to support multiple ongoing parking studies. Key parking meter elements of the November 1 changes include:· Smart meters in the downtown core (Cherry to Main Streets and Pine to South Winooski Streets) to accept credit/debit cards and closely track parking data, enabling further experimentation with rates and enforcement times based on market demand· Smart meter rate of $1.50/hour with no time limit· Smart meter enforcement until 10:00 pm from Monday to Saturday, encouraging increased turnover and greater availability of spaces in the downtown core during evening hoursMeter rates, enforcement hours, and technology outside the downtown core will remain the same as they are today, as follows:· Free parking less than a block away in any direction from the downtown core to continue after 6:00 pm· Downtown meter parking on Sundays and holidays to remain freeFor more information about current parking meter rates, please visit DPW’s parking web page(link is external).City-owned, downtown garage parking also has been and will continue to be improved:· Two-hour free program to remain in place at all City garages· Recent garage improvements include:o Pressure-washed stair towerso Safety painting on curb lineso Cleaning of all parking attendant booths and gate infrastructureo Graffiti removalo Elevator rehabilitation (College Street Garage)o Added overnight and holiday security (beginning by Thanksgiving holiday)· Marketplace Garage (on Winooski Avenue)o Hourly rates to increase over current rates by $2.00/hour, with a daily maximum fee of $10.00o Automated lane that accepts credit cards or two-hour free tickets installed· Lakeview Garage (behind Hotel Vermont) and College Street Garage (behind the Hilton Hotel)o Hourly rates to increase over current rates by $1.00/hour, with a daily maximum fee of $8.00· Downtown garage parking on Sundays and holidays to remain freeOther elements of the new changes include:Grace period of five minutes on every smart meter that runs out of timeDaily internal report identifying any broken meters, resulting in more efficient repair timesNew wayfinding and signage being installed during the 2015 construction season to better direct people to available parking spacesUpcoming significant investments in the parking garages to extend their functional life-spans and improve aesthetics and securityParking ambassadors will be downtown on November 1 to assist parkers with questions about the changes. For detailed information about the City’s parking initiatives, please visit the newly-launched website www.parkburlington.com(link is external).The Downtown Parking Improvement Initiative is a collaboration between the Burlington Business Association, the Department of Public Works, the Community and Economic Development Office, and the Burlington Police Department, with planning and outreach support from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. The Initiative is one of a series of ongoing studies, including studies on residential parking and downtown commuting, aimed at improving Burlington’s parking and transportation systems. The studies are expected to be complete in spring 2015 and will guide further changes to the parking system.If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact:Kelly Devine, Executive Director, Burlington Business Association – 802.863.1175 or [email protected](link sends e-mail)Nate Wildfire, Assistant Director of Economic Development, Community and Economic Development Office – [email protected](link sends e-mail)Chapin Spencer, Director, Department of Public Works – [email protected](link sends e-mail)Source: City of Burlington 10.31.2014
Vermont Student Assistance Corporation,Vermont Business Magzine Vermont Student Assistance Corp today announced it has selected Intuition College Savings Solutions to manage the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan, the state’s 529 college savings plan. Intuition College Savings Solutions, located in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida, has provided comprehensive, customized plan management solutions for over 25 years to 10 different 529 plans.“Intuition offers VHEIP account holders some strategic advantages and we believe families will value lower investment fees, a wider range of investment choices from Vanguard, TIAA-CREF and others, as well as expanded online services,” said Scott Giles, president and CEO of VSAC. “All Vermonters will need some form of education or training after high school to be qualified for Vermont’s future jobs. And, we know that students from families that save even a small amount for education are three times more likely to go.”Choosing Intuition as its plan manager also allows VSAC to fully integrate financial and information resources for Vermonters and their families when planning for education after high school.The Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan began in 1999 and currently has more than $270 million in assets under management from almost 16,000 account holders. Over the years, VHEIP has paid out $105 million for 4,300 students to continue their education.Under the contract with Intuition, VHEIP accounts will automatically transfer by Sept. 14, 2015.“Intuition has an excellent track record and it is our goal to make starting a VHEIP account as easy as possible to start and grow for future education needs,” Giles said. About VSAC – Changing Lives through Education and Training since 1965Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is a public, nonprofit agency established by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters achieve their education and training goals after high school. VSAC serves students and their families in grades 7-12, as well as adults returning to school, by providing education and career planning services, need-based grants, scholarships and education loans. VSAC has awarded more than $600 million in grants and scholarships for Vermont students, and also administers Vermont’s 529 college savings plan. Share your VSAC story by email to [email protected](link sends e-mail) or submit a video to YouTube(link is external). Find us at www.vsac.org(link is external) or check in on Facebook(link is external) and Twitter(link is external). #changing lives About VHEIPThe Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan, a 529 college savings plan, was established in 1999 and is Vermont’s only state-sponsored 529 plan and as such the only 529 plan eligible for the Vermont income tax credit on contributions. VHEIP is administered by the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. and managed by Intuition College Savings Solutions. For more information about setting up a VHEIP account, visit www.vheip.org(link is external) or call the customer service center at (800) 637-5860.About Intuition College Savings SolutionsIntuition College Savings Solutions, LLC has a longstanding history and commitment to the 529 industry. With experience spanning over 25 years, ICSS provides comprehensive, customized plan management solutions for 10 distinct 529 plans. ICSS’s comprehensive administrative abilities and marketplace experience let its partners focus on the most important mission of all: plan awareness and helping families secure the educational future of their children. Visit intuitioncss.com(link is external).WINOOSKI (August 14, 2015) – Vermont Student Assistance Corp
174.7 (1) Income taxes on the non-recurring items of Valener and on the share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro Green Mountain Power Corp,Vermont Gas Systems Inc,Vermont Business Magazine Valener Inc (TSX: VNR), the public investment vehicle in Gaz Métro Limited Partnership based in Montreal, which owns Green Mountain Power and Vermont Gas Systems reported last week an increase in net income and normalized operating cash flows of $58.6 million for fiscal 2015, or $1.53 per common share, up 50% from fiscal 2014, easily covering the dividend payment of$1.022 per common share. The Energy Distribution Segment in Vermont recorded net income of $57.3 million in fiscal 2015, down $0.9 million, or 1.5%, from fiscal 2014. This decrease stems mainly from an after-tax allowance of $8.0 million (US$10.3 million before tax) recorded by VGS in the fourth quarter relating to costs associated with Phase I of the Addison project. However, the strength of the US dollar and the synergies of GMP’s acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service in 2012 partly mitigated the decrease.Valener also announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.27 per common share, payable on January 15, 2016, to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 31, 2015. The Board of Directors also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.271875 per Series A preferred share, payable on January 15, 2016, to shareholders of record at the close of business on January 11, 2016. Both dividends are designated as eligible dividends for Canadian tax purposes.”Fiscal 2015 was an excellent year for Valener. With the help of our partners, Gaz Métro and Boralex, we commissioned Wind Farm 4, adding 28 turbines and 68 MW of electric power generation capacity to the Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms. What’s more, Wind Farm 4 enjoyed favourable wind conditions throughout the year. Gaz Métro, our main investment, continues to grow and move forward with innovative initiatives,” said Pierre Monahan, Chairman of Valener’s board of directors. “It is this continued growth strategy that has allowed Gaz Métro to raise its distributions, benefitting Valener and allowing it to reaffirm its dividend increase with confidence.” FISCAL 2015 HIGHLIGHTS ~10,000 km 2014 58.6 Non-Canadian-GAAP financial measures. Valener This measure is a non-Canadian-GAAP financial measure. A reconciliation of non-Canadian-GAAP financial measures is presented below. Natural Gas Transportation (1) Normalized operating cash flows (1) 111.0 GMP and VGS (1) 8.0 Valener For fiscal 2015, Valener recorded adjusted net income attributable to common shareholders of $45.3 million ($1.19 per common share) compared to $36.7 million ($0.97 per common share) in fiscal 2014. This$8.6 million increase ($0.22 per common share) stems from the excellent performance of the wind farms, which raised Valener’s share in the net income of these operations by $4.5 million, as well as the increase in Gaz Métro’s recurring net income.______________________________ 2014 0.97 – Reconciliation of normalized operating cash flows 36.7 (4.3) 45.3 Increase in quarterly distributions from $0.28 to $0.29 per unit as of January 5, 2016;Record recurring net income1 of $192.4 million, up 10.1% ($17.7 million);Favourable effect of the depreciation of the Canadian dollar compared to the U.S. dollar;Excellent performance by the Energy Production segment;Notable growth in liquefied natural gas sales by Gaz Métro LNG;Quebec distribution activity: Renewal of the 8.90% authorized rate of return for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Normalized operating cash flows1 per common share of $1.53, up 50% from fiscal 2014;Increase in annualized dividend from $1.04 to $1.08 per common share as of January 15, 2016;Adjusted net income1 of $45.3 million, up 23.4% ($8.6 million), or $1.19 per common share, compared to $0.97 in fiscal 2014;Seigneurie de Beaupré wind farms:Completion of Phase II (Wind Farm 4) and commissioning of 28 additional turbines, adding 68 MW of capacity; andExcellent operational performance by Wind Farms 2 and 3 and Wind Farm 4 as a result of favourable wind conditions. Net income attributable to common shareholders Adjusted net income attributable to common shareholders (1) Authorized return 2.3 Per common share (in $) Financial initiativesValener subscribed to 4,482,188 Gaz Métro units for approximately $74 million as part of Gaz Métro’s $255 million private placements of equity securities in fiscal 2015. Valener’s economic interest in Gaz Métro remains unchanged.For fiscal 2016, Valener is increasing its annualized dividend from $1.04 to $1.08 per common share and, as previously announced in February, expects to increase its annualized dividend by approximately 4% per year for the two subsequent years, that is, until 2018.Seigneurie de Beaupré wind farms – Valener and Gaz Métro Customers Net of financing costs of investments. These costs consist of interest on long-term debt incurred by Gaz Métro to finance investments in subsidiaries, joint ventures and entities subject to significant influence in each of these segments. 169.2 (4.3) (2.9) These measures are non-Canadian-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of non-Canadian-GAAP financial measures is presented below. 8.0 – Per common share (in $) Net income, excluding the non-recurring items of Valener, the share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro, net of income taxes, and the future income taxes related to the outside-basis temporary difference on the interest in Gaz Métro I 192.4 Net income – – 2 57.3 Net income attributable to Partners 8.90% Non-recurring items 115.5 Energy Distribution Authorized return 68 MW Change (2) Non-recurring items Distribution network 2015 Fiscal years ended September 30 62.9 VGS 42.8 4.5 Dec. 2014 4.0 8.0 1.8 2015 (0.9) 1.02 174.7 Energy Production (1) Total investment 180.8 (1.5) The commercial operation of these wind farms is moving ahead as planned, and as a result of favourable wind conditions, Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms 2 and 3 General Partnership (Wind Farms 2 and 3) generated operating cash flows of $60.0 million in fiscal 2015. Wind Farms 2 and 3 paid a portion of these cash flows, and those accumulated last year, to its partners; it paid a first distribution of $19.1 million in February 2015 and another of $21.5 million in August 2015. Of these distributions, Valener and Gaz Métro received $9.9 million and $10.1 million, respectively, during fiscal 2015. Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farm 4 General Partnership (Wind Farm 4), which was commissioned in December 2014, generated $5.4 million in operating cash flows in fiscal 2015 and paid an initial distribution of $17.6 million in September on account of certain conditions surrounding its financing. Of that amount, Valener and Gaz Métro received $4.3 million and $4.5 million, respectively.Wind Farms 2 and 3 generated 903,431 megawatthours (MWh) in 2015, a 40.0% increase from the 645,143 MWh produced last year, as a result of favourable wind conditions throughout the year and Wind Farms 2 and 3 running for a full 12 months, compared to just ten months in the previous year. Wind Farm 4 generated 180,214 MWh in fiscal 2015.Finding opportunities to further develop the wind power potential of Seigneurie de Beaupré, for which Valener and Gaz Métro have a development agreement with Boralex, remains a priority as it represents an attractive avenue for growth.Gaz Métro’s resultsGaz Métro generated net income attributable to Partners, excluding non-recurring items, of $192.4 million, up$17.7 million, or 10.1%, as a result of the favourable effect of the stronger U.S. dollar compared to the Canadian dollar, solid results in our Quebec gas distribution operations and wind farms, as well as notable growth in liquefied natural gas shipments.”Our transformative and innovative projects, focused on meeting our customers’ needs, paid off this year: 2015 was an excellent year of consolidation and development for Gaz Métro,” said Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Officer at Gaz Métro. “We generated record net income for our Partners through our growth and diversification initiatives. The successful commissioning of Wind Farm 4 is a telling example: it has already paid out its first distribution in September. On the LNG side, sales continue to grow and our plant expansion project is moving forward according to plan. Our continued development rests on our ability to supply more natural gas and other forms of renewable energy in place of more emissive ones. ” (7.7) Normalized operating cash flows 16.1 0.5 47.1 – US$1.2B 1.8 (8.0) Net income attributable to Partners, excluding non-recurring items Rate base 5.3 Energy Services, Storage and Other (1) WindFarms 58.2 ~$750M Adjusted net income attributable to common shareholders Natural gas distribution in Quebec (Gaz Métro-QDA) Corporate Affairs (1) 184.4 ~1,300 km 1.53 16.6 (8.0) Net income attributable to Partners – Note: A reconciliation of non-Canadian-GAAP financial measures is presented below. Gaz Métro In service date 36.7 24.5% 174.7 Valener Inc. Share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro Rate base 1) Dec. 2013 (in millions of dollars) $2.0B Summary of Valener’s results 45.3 US$193M Gaz Métro Limited Partnership (in millions of dollars, unless otherwise indicated) Phase The Energy Distribution Segment in Vermont, through its subsidiaries Green Mountain Power Corporation (GMP) and Vermont Gas Systems Inc. (VGS), recorded net income attributable to Partners of $57.3 million in fiscal 2015, down $0.9 million, or 1.5%, from fiscal 2014. This decrease stems mainly from an after-tax allowance of $8.0 million (US$10.3 million before tax) recorded by VGS in the fourth quarter relating to costs associated with Phase I of the Addison project, partly mitigated by:the favourable effect of the appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Canadian dollar; andsynergies generated by the operational efficiencies achieved from the integration of GMP and Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS).The Addison project consists of extending the natural gas distribution service by 66 km to the communities ofVergennes and Middlebury in Vermont. Although much of the construction work is scheduled for fiscal 2016, VGS plans to complete the first 17 km of Phase I by the end of December 2015.In October 2015, VGS and the Vermont Department of Public Service signed a memorandum of understanding under which VGS agreed to set a US$134.0 million cap on the amount of the total Phase I costs that could be recovered through rates, barring circumstances beyond its control. Following this memorandum, VGS recorded a before tax US$10.3 million allowance as at September 30, 2015 to recognize the uncertainty surrounding project costs that could eventually be disallowed. This memorandum of understanding is subject to the reconfirmation of the Certificate of Public Good by the Vermont Public Service Board.Natural Gas TransportationThe Natural Gas Transportation segment generated net income attributable to Partners of $16.6 million in 2015 compared to $16.1 million in 2014, mainly because of higher volumes shipped by the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), as a result of new short-term contracts and stronger demand caused by colder temperatures as well as the favourable effect of the depreciation of the Canadian dollar. This increase was partly offset by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s February decision on PNGTS’s rates. Energy ProductionThe Energy Production segment recorded net income attributable to Partners of $1.8 million in 2015, compared to no income in the year-ago period, due to: favourable winds;the operation of Wind Farms 2 and 3 throughout all of fiscal 2015 compared to only 10 months in 2014; andWind Farm 4’s commissioning in December 2014. Energy Services, Storage and OtherThe Energy Services, Storage and Other segment generated net income of $2.4 million in fiscal 2015, a $5.3 million improvement over last year driven by a notable increase in Gaz Métro LNG’s sales, which delivered close to 7 million m3 more LNG to customers than in fiscal 2014, improved profitability at Gaz Métro Plus Limited Partnership and lower supply costs at Climatisation et Chauffage Urbains de Montréal, L.P.Financial initiatives Gaz Métro issued 15,454,545 new units through private placements during the year for total proceeds of $255 million. The Company also increased its credit facility from $600 million to $800 million and extended its maturity date out to 2020. “Our strong financial situation, solid balance sheet and enviable credit rating put us in an ideal situation to execute on our future growth strategies and have enabled us to increase our distributions to Partners. As of January 5, 2016, Gaz Métro’s distributions will increase from $0.28 to $0.29 per unit, an increase of almost 4%,” added Pierre Despars, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Financial Officer of Gaz Métro.Outlook – Gaz Métro”Organic growth is and remains our primary channel for opportunities and we are pursuing our growth strategy in the LNG market. We’re excited about the many possibilities this initiative may bring,” added Sophie Brochu.”We’re also looking to repeat the success stories of our acquisitions in Vermont, paying particular attention to the northeastern United States. However, with the high premiums in the regulated sector and a low Canadian dollar pushing up transaction costs, we must remain disciplined and patient in order to select the right opportunity, at the right price.”Reconciliation of non-Canadian-GAAP financial measures Reconciliation of net income attributable to Partners, excluding non-recurring items (4.3) Cash flows related to operating activities Gaz Métro 9.60% Net income attributable to Partners, excluding non-recurring items (2) ~265,000 $0.25 per common share paid on October 15, 2014 and on January 15, 2015, and $0.26 per common share paid on April 15, 2015 and on July 15, 2015. ~21,100 km1 10.20% 192.4 ~50,000 Cumulative dividends on Series A preferred shares 36.7 58.6 Valener Inc. (4.3) 38.8 2015 Fiscal years ended September 30(in millions of dollars) Fiscal years ended September 30(in millions of dollars) Customers GMP’s system consists of over 1,500 km of overhead transmission lines, 18,000 km of overhead distribution lines and 1,600 km of underground distribution lines, mostly located in Vermont but also extending into New Hampshire and New York. 174.7 Dividends paid to preferred shareholders Gaz Métro-QDA 49.6 Distribution network 41.0 – Allowance related to the costs of the Addison project Fiscal years ended September 30(in millions of dollars) Installedcapacity 41.0 2015 4 2014 Non-recurring items of Valener 9.7 Gaz Métro-QDA recorded net income attributable to Partners of $115.5 million, a $4.5 million, or 4.1%, year-over-year increase resulting mainly from various parameters of the 2015 rate case, including:an increase in the average rate base of 3.2% to $2.0 billion; andhigher capitalized interest on non-rate-base investments;mitigated by a decrease in the share of the distribution service overearnings. 2014 SEGMENT INFORMATIONEnergy Distribution Energy Distribution in Vermont 184.4 (1.1) – Future income taxes related to the outside-basis temporary difference on the interest in Gaz Métro 1 47.1 272 MW (9.2) 43.1 2015 ~195,000 11.6 (1) GMP 2014 Net income ~$190M Gaz Métro’s segment results – Net income attributable to Partners, excluding non-recurring items (2.7) Fiscal years ended September 30 2.4 II 38.8 25.5% Reconciliation of adjusted net income attributable to common shareholders 17.7 1.19 41.0 2 and 3 Conference callValener will hold a conference call today at 3:00 pm (Eastern Time) to discuss its results and those of Gaz Métro for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015. The public is invited to join the call at 647-427-7450or toll-free at 1-888-231-8191. A simultaneous webcast will also be available using the link provided under “Events and Presentations” in the “Investors” section of www.valener.com(link is external). A replay of the webcast will be archived on the Company’s website for 90 days following the call; a phone replay will be available for 30 days by dialing 416-849-0833 or toll-free 1-855-859-2056 (access code: 61270296).Overview of ValenerValener Inc. is a widely held public company that serves as the investment vehicle in Gaz Métro. Through its investment in Gaz Métro, Valener offers its shareholders a solid investment in a diversified and largely regulated energy portfolio in Quebec and Vermont. As a strategic partner, Valener, on the one hand, contributes to Gaz Métro’s growth, and on the other, invests in wind power production in Quebec alongside Gaz Métro. Valener favours energy sources and uses that are innovative, clean, competitive and profitable. Valener’s common and preferred shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the “VNR” symbol for common shares and the “VNR.PR.A” symbol for Series A preferred shares. www.valener.com(link is external)Overview of Gaz MétroWith more than $6 billion in assets, Gaz Métro is a leading energy provider. It is the largest natural gas distribution company in Quebec, where its network of over 10,000 km of underground pipelines serves over 300 municipalities and more than 195,000 customers. Gaz Métro is also present in Vermont, producing electricity and distributing electricity and natural gas to meet the needs of more than 310,000 customers. Gaz Métro is actively involved in the development and operation of innovative, promising energy projects, including natural gas as fuel and liquefied natural gas as a replacement for higher emission-producing energies, the production of wind power, and the development of biomethane. Gaz Métro is a major energy sector player that takes the lead in responding to the needs of its customers, regions and municipalities, local organizations and communities while also satisfying the expectations of its Partners (Gaz Métro inc. and Valener) and employees.www.gazmetro.com(link is external)SOURCE MONTREAL, Nov. 27, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ – Valener Inc.
Vermont Business Magazine The 20th annual Rabies Bait Drop(link is external) begins August 9 in eight Vermont counties as part of a continued effort to stop the spread of rabies among wildlife. Rabies is a viral disease that is mainly found in raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks, and can infect domestic animals and people. Rabies vaccine, if given soon after a human is bitten by a rabid animal, is highly effective. However, rabies is almost always fatal without immediate medical treatment.The Vermont Department of Health will work in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to drop approximately 450,000 baits containing ONRAB oral rabies vaccine. Baits will be dropped in parts of Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille and Orleans counties.The bait drop will begin in August, weather permitting, in:AddisonFerrisburgh, Monkton, StarksboroCaledonia CountyBarnet, Burke, Concord, Danville, Groton, Hardwick, Lyndon,Lyndonville, Newark, Peacham, Ryegate, St. JohnsburySheffield, Sutton, Waterford, WheelockChittenden CountyBurlington, Charlotte, Colchester, Essex, Hinesburg,Milton, St. George, Shelburne, South Burlington,Underhill, Westford, Williston, WinooskiEssex CountyBloomfield, Brighton, Brunswick, Canaan, East Haven,Ferdinand, Granby, Guildhall, Lemington, Lewis,Maidstone, Norton, Warner’s, Warner’s Grant,Warner’s Gore, Warren’sFranklin Countyall townsGrand Isle Countyall towns (aerial drops)Lamoille CountyBelvidere, Cambridge, Eden, Hyde Park, Jeffersonville, Johnson,Morristown, Waterville, WolcottOrleans Countyall townsNew Hampshireseveral towns in Coos CountyIn rural parts of Vermont, bait will be dropped from low-flying airplanes. In more densely populated areas, teams of two people will place the bait by hand.ONRAB, the vaccine being used this year in Vermont, New Hampshire and northern New York, has proven to be effective in eliminating raccoon rabies in Canada.To make it attractive to animals, the bait is covered in a sweet coating that is made of vegetable-based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavor, and dark-green food-grade dye.There are no expected negative health effects for adults, children or pets who may come into contact with the bait and vaccine. There are, however, things to keep in mind if you do come in contact with bait: If possible, leave the bait where you found it.If you must move the bait, wear gloves, and move the bait to an area of thicker cover where animals are more likely to find it, like a wooded area.Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with bait.Each bait has a U.S. toll-free number printed on it that anyone can call for more information.Avoid any animal that shows strange behavior. Do not try to trap or capture the animal. Vermonters can help rabies control efforts by reporting strange acting animals to the state’s Rabies Hotline toll-free at 1-800-4-RABIES (1-800-472-2437), or in-state at 802-223-8697.
Vermont Business Magazine Thirty-two Vermonters who were deceived into purchasing nearly worthless memberships in the “Member Choice” travel club will receive partial refunds from some of the companies involved in the unfair and deceptive membership sales. The Vermonters paid a total of nearly $130,000 to become members of the discount travel club, which was claimed to offer steep discounts on travel services. The travel club ultimately provided its Vermont members a total of less than $3,000 in discounts. Vermont consumers who purchased the travel club memberships will receive checks in the mail providing partial restitution for the cost of the membership purchases. The amount paid to each Vermonter will be approximately 10 percent of the initial purchase price, or 10 cents on the dollar.“Vermont law provides strong protections for consumers who are being offered memberships in discount programs,” said Attorney General William Sorrell. “Those who trick Vermonters into overpaying for services of limited value will be held accountable for violating our law.”Attorney General Sorrell announced a settlement(link is external) with two Florida men and three of their companies which engaged in marketing efforts related to these sales and fulfilled the memberships sold to consumers. Tony Armand, Henry Armand, and their companies will pay a total of $15,000 in restitution to Vermont consumers who purchased memberships in the travel clubs, and $10,000 in penalties to the State of Vermont. Additionally, the Armands and their businesses are prohibited from doing business in the State in the future, and will cooperate with the Attorney General’s case against the other parties involved in sales of these memberships.In order to secure additional restitution for Vermonters affected by these practices, the Attorney General has filed a lawsuit(link is external) against Adrian Miller and his companies, Travel Supplier of America, Start 2 Finish Travel Management, and Universal Concepts Inc., for their unfair and deceptive claims and conduct related to the sales of these memberships.Any person who expects to receive restitution under this settlement but does not receive it in the next week is encouraged to contact the Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424 for more information. Neither the settlement nor the lawsuit prevents individual Vermonters from bringing their own lawsuits against any of the involved companies and individuals.Source: Vermont AG Nov 22, 2016