Food security for low-income Vermonters on the line in Farm Bill squabble

first_imgby Alicia Freese May 30, 2013 Competing farm bills in Congress could reduce food assistance for some low-income Vermonters and knock others off the program altogether, hunger advocates were told Thursday in Randolph Center.Senator Patrick Leahy’s office and Vermont’s Department of Children and Families briefed nearly 100 food-security advocates at Vermont Technical College on what the 2013 Farm Bill will mean for Vermont’s food assistance program.From left, DCF Deputy Commissioner Richard Giddings, Hunger Free Vermont program director Dorigen Keeney and Chris Saunders, a staff person for Sen. Patrick Leahy, field questions from a group of food advocates Thursday. Photo by Alicia Freese/VTDggerVermont receives about $12 million a month from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly referred to as food stamps. 3Squares VT is the state program charged with disbursing these funds, which benefit roughly 101,000 Vermonters on a monthly basis.The federal legislation is still in flux ‘the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have passed different bills, and a lot hinges on how the two versions are reconciled. Both, however, contain cuts to SNAP.The Senate bill cuts $4.1 billion nationwide over the next decade. The House version is more draconian ‘it cuts roughly five times that amount. Floor debate on the bill began in the Senate last week; both chambers will continue to debate the legislation during the month of June. If Congress fails to pass a new Farm Bill, the SNAP program will stay intact.The speeches at the annual 3SquaresVT Outreach Conference on Thursday were part policy briefings, and part call-to-arms. Among the audience members were staff from veterans’organizations, shelters, senior centers, community action groups, schools, farmers markets and government departments.Dorigen Keeney, program director for Hunger Free Vermont, urged the advocates to push Vermont’s congressional delegation to preserve funding for 3SquaresVT.‘SNAP is being used as the punching bag to score political points in Washington.’Dorigen Keeney, Hunger Free Vermont ‘SNAP is being used as the punching bag to score political points in Washington,’Keeney said. ‘Last year, Sen. Leahy used your stories when he defended cuts to SNAP on the Senate floor. â ¦ He needs more of your stories now.’On top of the potential cuts embedded in the Farm Bill, states will see an across-the-board reduction in SNAP dollars Nov. 1, when American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for the program is terminated. As a result, Patricia Duda, the food and nutrition director for DCF, estimates a family of three in Vermont will see their monthly grant drop by $30 to $40.The federal sequester does not impact SNAP.Leahy supports the Senate Farm Bill. He released a statement earlier this month saying, ‘I am disappointed that this mark once again includes $4 billion in cuts to the SNAP program, which will predominately come from Northeastern states. I understand these cuts represent a compromise on behalf of the chairwoman, and they are certainly far more reasonable than the draft House mark, which includes $20 billion in food assistance reductions.’Chris Saunders, a staff member from Leahy’s office, gave a scathing assessment of the House version at the gathering of food advocates. ‘We believe they are trying to balance the budget on the backs of low-income folks.’DCF officials aren’t pleased about the cuts in either bill, but they agree the Senate version is ‘not as toxic.’The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that almost 2 million people will lose their benefits if the House version is passed. DCF officials say they aren’t sure yet how many Vermont households are at stake, but the deputy commissioner of DCF, Richard Giddings, said the impact would be ‘huge.’The House bill eliminates ‘categorical eligibility,’a policy some states, including Vermont, have adopted to allow families to qualify for food assistance even if their gross income falls above the normal cutoff. In Vermont, for instance, people can qualify for food stamps if they receive Reach Up or the Earned Income Tax Credit. This has allowed the state to distribute SNAP money to families with incomes at 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) instead of using the federal standard, which is 130 percent of the FPL.Duda, who describes categorical eligibility as ‘one of the greatest things that’s happened’in the program for reducing food insecurity, predicted, ‘a lot of people that are eligible now simply won’t be because their resources are going to be subject our review.’The number of people receiving food assistance has skyrocketed at both the state and national level in recent years. In 2008, there were only about 55,000 people on 3Squares. That increase was driven by the economic downturn and the state’s decision to loosen eligibility standards.Both the Senate and the House bills restrict what’s known as the ‘Heat and Eat’provision. If a family on 3Squares also gets fuel assistance, it automatically qualifies for a utility allowance, which increases the amount of food assistance they qualify for. Vermont is one of a host of states that doles out miniscule fuels benefits ‘think $3 a month ‘so families can get this allowance. The Senate bill would make the minimum fuel benefit $10 dollars; the House raises it to $20.That will force states to choose between increasing the fuel benefit for these families and watching other benefits for these families drop.Saunders said Leahy is confident the state can offset the benefit cuts that accompany the Senate bill.‘We believe that the state will step up, and if the threshold has to be put it in place, it will meet that threshold,’Saunders said.Giddings said the governor’s office has asked his department to calculate how much it would cost for the state to pay those additional LIHEAP dollars. DCF doesn’t have firm figures yet, but Giddings gave an off-the-cuff approximation. Increasing the LIHEAP benefit to $10 for the 28,000 families that receive a smaller benefit would cost the state between $300,000 and $400,000. But, Giddings pointed out, it would allow Vermont to hold onto the $5 million to $6 million in federal funds that brings.‘Our department is committed to maintaining what we have and trying to figure out what would the governor potentially need to add back. But we don’t know yet where they are going to end up,’Giddings said.last_img read more

Pharmaceuticals in the water

first_imgby Lori Fisher, LCC Executive Director Drugs are making their way from our medicine cabinets into our waters, and traces of pharmaceuticals have been found in the environment. Drugs may pass through our bodies unchanged or unused pills may be dumped down the toilet. Wastewater treatments systems were not designed to remove pharmaceuticals, and their ultimate environmental fate is unclear.The first broad look at the pharmaceuticals in the United States occurred in 2002. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey sampled for traces of 95 widespread chemicals from 139 rivers in 30 states, and found evidence of the substances in 80% of the waterways. The average river contained seven different chemicals. Since then the number of potential contaminants has increased, but little else has changed.Americans’ pills are ending up in our waterways. Photo via January, EPA scientists published a new report on the presence of pharmaceuticals in wastewater effluent. The study purposefully looked at worst case scenarios, by targeting 50 of the largest wastewater treatment facilities in the country. They looked for 56 different drugs, and found 25 of them in the effluent.High blood pressure medications were detected most frequently. Of the high blood pressure medications found, hydrochlorothiazide was in every sample while metoprolol and atenolol were found in at least 90% of samples. Valsartan, another high blood pressure medication, had both the highest concentration in any one sample and the highest average concentration.The drug carbamazepine, used to treat epilepsy and bi-polar disorders, was also found in over 90% of samples. Previous researchers have found carbamazepine particularly resistant to degradation in wastewater facilities.The EPA study did not consider pharmaceuticals that could reach the environment from the discharge of untreated wastes. Such discharges occur when excessive rain water infiltrates plants and exceeds their capacity for treatment or when mechanical issues prevent proper treatment.Previous work conducted on Lake Champlain in Burlington considered the relative difference in pharmaceutical concentrations between treated and untreated wastes. For compounds that were not removed during treatment, the load from untreated wastes was a small proportion of the total load. However, for about half the compounds analyzed during this study, the treatment process led to substantial breakdown. For these, discharge of untreated waste during rain events accounted for the bulk of the load to the environment.In the latest study, EPA researchers downplayed the human health implications of their findings. ‘Based on data presented, risks of direct toxicity to humans, particularly healthy adults, from (active pharmaceutical ingredients) released into the aquatic environment appear low,’ they stated in their conclusion.It is much more difficult to assess ecological impacts, but what has been studied has been disturbing. Controlled experiments in lakes in Ontario have shown that prolonged exposure to low levels of chemicals that mimic hormones disrupted fathead minnow reproduction. Males became more female-like and egg production in females was altered. This led to ‘a near extinction of this species from the lake.’Americans use of pharmaceuticals has increased dramatically. The percentage of people taking at least one prescription drug has gone from 48% in 2007-2008 to 70% today, brought on by an aging population and rapid development of new pharmaceuticals. Every year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves well over 100 new drugs for sale in the United States.           It is increasingly clear that wastewater treatment facilities do not remove pharmaceuticals from waste water. Currently, the only way to limit them in the environment is by minimizing the amount that enters the waste stream. Consumers must be careful with personal use of and disposal of pills and prescriptions to avoid them ending up in waterways. Leftover and outdated pharmaceuticals should be dropped off during drug take back days, deposited in drug drop boxes such as the one provided by Plattsburgh Police Department, or disposed of in a landfill. Ideally, the medications should be disposed of in their original container after blacking out the name of the recipient and rendering the contents unusable either by adding a little water to solids or adding coffee grounds or kitty litter to liquids.Lake Look is a monthly natural history column produced by the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC). Formed in 1963, LCC is the only bi-state organization solely dedicated to protecting Lake Champlain’s health and accessibility. LCC uses science-based advocacy, education, and collaborative action to protect and restore water quality, safeguard natural habitats, foster stewardship and ensure recreational access.2.5.2014 is external)last_img read more

Renewable Energy Vermont announces position on Vermont as a ‘Green Energy Corridor’

first_img·         It is essential that Vermont be a “Green Energy Corridor.”  All new energy transmission facilities built through Vermont should be exclusively for the transport of renewable energy.    ·         The amount of electricity currently under consideration (more than Vermont’s entire annual electric load) has the potential for both disruption and dependence if it were not to reach southern New England.·         In order for Vermont to meet its 90% by 2050 renewable energy goal we need additional in-state renewable energy generation and the grid infrastructure to support it.·        While the vast majority of energy from these transmission projects will not be used in Vermont homes or businesses, these projects come with a cost to Vermont ratepayers.  To offset the disruption resulting from these transmission projects, it is in Vermont’s best interest to recoup this value from the project developers and return it to Vermonters through:o   On-going funding of Vermont’s innovative Clean Energy Development Fund to grow Vermont’s local renewable energy economyo   Upgrades to Vermont’s in-state transmission capacity to allow for the development of more in-state renewable projectsREV looks forward to working with project developers, policy makers, utilities, businesses and citizens to move Vermont towards its renewable energy future.Source: REV April 17. 2014About Renewable Energy Vermont (REV)REV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan trade association representing businesses, individuals, colleges and others committed to reducing our reliance on traditional fuels and growing Vermont’s renewable energy industry. is external)PHOTO: Hydro-Quebec dam and spillway in Northern Quebec. Courtesy photo. Vermont Business Magazine In response to several proposals to transmit energy from Vermont’s north and west to markets in southern New England, the Renewable Energy Vermont board of directors last week announced its support of a “Green Energy Corridor.”While REV has not endorsed any specific proposal, the trade association said it favors projects that:·         Transmit renewable energy only.·         Provide a public good to Vermonters through support of our in-state clean energy development programs and infrastructure. ·         Prioritize delivery of energy to southern New England to provide Vermont’s in-state renewable industry opportunity for continued growth. “Vermont has a long history of serving as a commercial conduit between our neighbors, and REV supports the evolution of that relationship to include renewable energy,” said board chair Thomas Hughes.  “Done right, these projects could help Vermont and the region reach our clean energy targets.”REV said it strongly supports Vermont’s goal of supplying 90 percent of the state’s total energy needs in 2050 with renewable energy.“Through the combination of conservation, efficiency and local renewables Vermont can achieve our goals,” said executive director Gabrielle Stebbins.  “It will be more difficult for our neighbors to do the same with their larger populations and greater energy demands.  That’s why it makes sense for Vermont to help by serving as a Green Energy Corridor between renewable energy supplies and demand.”Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) Position Statement: Vermont As A Renewable Energy Transmission CorridorAs we move into the 21st Century there is a growing demand for energy in southern New England and New York.  Surplus energy is available to the North and West of Vermont.   In the last year, several projects to transport this energy through Vermont have been proposed, including at least three electrical transmission projects, one crude oil pipeline and one natural gas pipeline.As the trade association that represents Vermont’s renewable energy businesses, Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) offers the following:·         REV strongly supports Vermont’s goal of supplying 90% of our total energy use (electric, thermal and transportation) in 2050 with renewable energy. This goal, and the actions required today to meet it, are in the best economic and environmental interests of the state.·         Vermont has a long history of serving as a commercial conduit and it is in the best interest of Vermont and our region to support continued commerce between our neighbors.last_img read more

Vermont’s largest solar array installed in Essex Jct

first_imgEncore Renewable Energy,Encore Redevelopment, of Burlington, Vermont, has announced the recent installation and commissioning of the PSEG Essex Solar Energy Center in Essex Junction, Vermont. At 3.6MWp, this array is the largest solar project in Vermont and is estimated  to produce approximately 4,500,000 kWh of electricity annually, sufficient to power roughly 700 Vermont homes. The solar array will also provide a lease payment which will help to diversify the income stream of the Whitcomb Farm and help the Farm, which has been in continuous operation since 1867, remain in active agricultural use. The Whitcomb family reelased this statement: “The lease associated with the solar project provides us with the opportunity to improve our farmstead while preserving topsoil integrity.  Farming has always involved land, sunlight and water to produce value; we are pleased to be able to diversify our farming operations to include renewable electric generation in addition to forage crops and dairy.”The project was completed under the State of Vermont’s Standard Offer program which was designed to jumpstart Vermont’s clean energy economy and begin the process of achieving the State’s goals for an increased portfolio of locally generated renewable energy. Encore was responsible for initial project design and securing all permits associated with the project.  Final design and construction activities were provided by juwi Solar. The project was financed and is owned by PSEG Solar Source a subsidiary of the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG).Encore said in a statement: “Encore is honored to have been able to work collaboratively with the many professionals responsible for bringing this project from concept to commissioning. We hope this project can serve as an example of the multilateral value of distributed renewable generation for providing grid resilience, economic development, and protection of Vermont’s valuable and iconic working landscape.”About Encore Redevelopment:Encore Redevelopment is a Burlington, VT-based project development company with a focus on 21st century solutions for underutilized property and community-scale renewable energy systems.Source: Encore 1.25.2015. PHOTO: Whitcomb solar array under construction last year in Essex Junction. Courtesy photo.last_img read more

Daughter of Malcolm X to deliver Burlington MLK Day keynote address

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center, organizers of the annual Burlington Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Remembrance, have announced that Ilyasah Shabazz – civil right activist, author, and 3rd daughter of Malcolm X – will deliver the 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day keynote address on Sunday, January 17, at 3PM at the First Unitarian Universalist Church at 152 Pearl Street in Burlington. Shabazz is known for her memoir, Growing up X for which she won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Literary Work. At the event, the Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center with honor this year’s recipients of the 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award: Jan Demers, Executive Director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), for her work helping homeless and economically disadvantaged community members; and Jay Diaz, Public Advocate for the ACLU of Vermont, for his untiring work to promote stability, access and equal opportunity to low income Vermont children.Ilyasah ShabazzThe event is free and open to the public, though tickets are required. Free tickets may be obtained at both Fletcher Free Library and City Market in Burlington. This event is made possible though sponsorship from the City of Burlington, United Way of Chittenden County, KeyBank, NBT Bank, Champlain Housing Trust, Spruce Mortgage, People’s United Bank, Church Street Market Place, Leonardo’s Pizza, the Law Office of Robert Appel and the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity.As part of Burlington’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembrance, the public is also invited to attend a panel discussion Racial Profiling, A Community Response on Monday, January 18, at 3PM at the Echo Science Center. The panel includes Stephanie Seguino, T.J. Donovan, Bill Lippert and Yacobre Bogre, and will be moderated by Robert Appel. The January 18 event is free to attend and no tickets are required.JANUARY 13, 2016 (South Burlington, VT): The Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Centerlast_img read more

Senate panel OKs bill to improve SBA business loan programs for Guard members

first_imgVermont Business Magazine A US Senate committee is advancing legislation co-authored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to improve and boost access to the loan programs aimed at helping Guard members and Reservists facing financial setbacks.  Their bill, approved Thursday by the Senate Small Business Committee, makes improvements in the Military Reservists Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) and Repayment Deferral for Active Duty Reservists programs. Leahy, the co-chair of the Senate’s influential National Guard Caucus, said:  “I have long believed that both the National Guard and small business communities are foundational threads in the fabric of Vermont.  Getting our bill through the committee brings us a step closer to providing additional support for veterans and service members wishing to turn their entrepreneurial goals into reality.”MREIDL is a direct loan program that provides emergency assistance to Guard/Reserve entrepreneurs experiencing hardship due to deployment, and repayment deferral for activity duty Reservists.  It also authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to work with lenders to defer interest or loan repayment for Guard and Reserve members facing similar situations. Although these program have been established for many years, they have been consistently underused due to a general lack of awareness in Vermont and elsewhere.The National Guard and Reserve Entrepreneurship Support Act would reconfigure the programs to allow a more open availability, not limited solely to periods of conflict. The change reflects a shift in our National Guard population from a strategic reserve to be used in only a conflict between superpowers to an operational reserve that serves the nation wherever needed.  Additionally, the legislation would direct the SBA to work with the National Guard Bureau and State Adjutants General to identify existing programs relevant to members of the National Guard and Reserve, in order to develop a more effective outreach, particularly during the lead up to deployments.WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 9, 2016) – Leahylast_img read more

Vermont Farm Show supports FARMS 2+2 scholarship program

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Vermont Farm Show(link is external) has announced it will support the Farm and Agricultural Resource Management Stewards (FARMS) 2+2 Scholarship program(link is external) for the next 4 years.  The Farm Show has committed $43,000 to the FARMS 2+2 Scholarship program, which provides scholarships to young Vermonters who are pursuing dairy careers. Founded in 2001, the  FARMS 2+2 scholarship funds half tuitions for two years of study at Vermont Technical College (VTC) and full tuition for two subsequent years at the University of Vermont (UVM). The fund is administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and the student recipients are selected by VTC and UVM. The program also includes semesters at Vermont Tech Diary Farm and Teaching Lab in Norwich, Vermont and the Miner Agriculture Research Institute in Chazy, New York. Over 65 2+2 scholars have graduated in the past 15 years and are now active in agribusiness industries and on farms across Vermont.“The FARMS 2+2 program provides a broad educational base for Vermont’s future dairy leaders,” said Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture.  “The support from the Vermont Farm Show will enrich this important program, and provide a strong link between students and the industry,” he added.The Vermont Farm Show is the premier venue for farmers to interact with the ag related businesses that keep the industry strong.  Several years ago, Farm Show vendors suggested a scholarship to assist young people interested in continuing their education in the agricultural sector.  Due to strong exhibitor support over the years, the Vermont Farm Show is in a position to do so. “The FARMS 2+2 Scholarship Program is a great investment in young agriculturalists and Vermont agriculture,” said Dave Martin, Vermont Farm Show President.  “We are also going to offer our exhibitors an opportunity to support this program.”The Vermont Farm Show has been the state’s unofficial trade show for agriculture for over 80 years.  In 2012, the Show moved from Barre to Essex Junction and has grown into a three day event attended by more than 14,000 guests, featuring over 145 vendors and 15 organization meetings.  Always scheduled for the last week in January, the Show’s visitors have also donated almost 2 tons of food and several hundred dollars to area food shelves in lieu of an entry fee since moving to the Champlain Valley fairgrounds.Source:  Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets 6.20.2016last_img read more

Merchants reports Q3 2016 financial results ahead of acquisition

first_img% 0.49 9 (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) Bank owned life insurance 0.21 2,301 548 September 30, 6,883,644 — 1,419,903 Other long-term debt 2015 All other loans 6,866,418 % 6,871,642 Period end common shares outstanding 6,866 3,911 % (0.01) 47,551 % 21.56 Diluted earnings per common share 10,456 13,831 Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Weighted average common shares outstanding % 12,210 $ 29,469 Earning assets 0.40 7.29 Provision for credit losses Bank owned life insurance $ $ % 19,422 Non-interest bearing deposits 21.80 1,453,330 12.86 90,672 Time deposits Accruing loans 31 to 90 days past due as a percent of total loans 28,380 % 1,507,276 157,796 Average yield of earning assets 931 % September 30, 661,962 52,795 34,172 32,478 13,624 0.28 12.78 % Bank owned life insurance % 1,207 110 % Compensation and benefits 1,075 $ — 2015 812 % $ 2,224 199 5,456 June 30, Net loans % 51,214 437 8.84 15,030 12,338 (72) Total assets 61 390 2,021,237 $ % 632,847 (315) 2015 111,070 6,886,253 61 2016 6,292 $ % 209,031 235,927 % September 30, % — % 1,453,507 % 731 22,000 (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) 2,021,237 — 19 Real estate loans – residential Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, short-term 30,053 267,794 Credit Quality – Period End 3,673 % 282,083 1,694,216 3,997 45,312 Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 51 20,619 12,264 3,228 September 30, 1,097 280,078 2015 10,492 1,742,417 662,250 1,685,695 38,759 17,549 Total assets Total stockholders’ equity 4,290 Other liabilities % $ 5,784 55,210 Stockholders’ equity 1,470 Period Ended $ % $ % Provision for income taxes 20,619 — 1.89 % 9,276 14,930 % Investments-held to maturity, taxable — 26,684 250 126,549 Loans 184,920 $ FHLB stock 7,551 Allowance for loan losses 12,468 1,451,612 Loans 4,549 4,781 64.12 1,818,341 % 1,387,473 1,306,613 13,041 103 581,351 % $ 404 September 30, 2,050 Equipment expense 1.71 Total interest expense 31,166 1,959,396 Cash and due from banks % 13.02 110 Legal and professional fees 1,759,743 7,011 % Return on average assets $ 20,619 For the Three Months Ended 20,619 152 52,487 Merchants Bancshares, Inc 8.77 — 3,694 Trust division income Short-term borrowings Total deposits % 613,337 89,918 1,395,154 period presentation. 63,130 20,619 $ 11,055 192 $ 0.55 7,786 1,961 $ 89 1,432,167 Period End 429 Interest bearing liabilities 207 20,619 Long-term debt Stockholders’ equity Balance Sheets – Quarter-to-Date Averages 44,755 10,022 Time deposits Investments-held to maturity, taxable 6,887 60,590 260,167 1,503,840 Municipal loans Basic earnings per common share 1,036,324 2,329 3,985 905 0.85 Marketing expenses Fed funds sold 3.77 Net interest rate spread 2016 448,632 % 321 % 10,042 1,880,008 (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) 2016 1,258 September 30, 1,195 $ 7.29 1,025 Total deposits — 5,008 1.80 Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 609,454 $ 111,190 473 Adjusted net income State franchise taxes 835 1,793,177 6,346 7.84 2016 6,019 1,819,205 1,289 1,218,067 390 156,293 FHLB stock 5,961 Other assets 3,797 35,121 10,395 September 30, 51,702 2,370 Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust Tangible capital ratio 1,135,496 Stockholders’ equity 336 % % 666,433 0.89 Time deposits — 3,792 — 340 Interest on interest earning deposits with banks and other short-term investments September 30, 1,818,341 1,402,240 1,258 % 212,859 Nonperforming loans (“NPLs”) (2) 5,982 10,515 342 31 106 $ 577,006 7,640 6.94 1,805,574 1,608,647 113,403 Net interest income 127,876 1,207 $ 37,018 1,986,437 1,180,131 653 Ratios and Supplemental Information: 4,233 26,049 0.62 2016 Common Equity Tier 1 1,169,713 2015 1,653 2015 12,540 % December 31, $ 193 $ 108,423 $ Adjusted diluted earnings per common share % $ 363 6,899 Total Loans 7,011 Community Bank System, Inc. merger related expenses 1,551,439 September 30, 632,481 1,464,745 Total liabilities Allowance for loan losses (“ALL”) 106,681 222,782 Noninterest income 0.29 0.38 Tier I leverage ratio % 6,337,778 Period End 6,872 13,797 6,547 $ December 31, 1,052 24,906 % 8,872 3,856 15.77 FDIC insurance September 30, 450 Tangible capital ratio (1) 129,258 12,897 (112) 5,352 58 For the Nine Months Ended 296 1,439,144 10,680 $ 354 6,855,294 10,551 2,258 11,923 % 4,236 Allowance for loan losses 4,489 0.61 September 30, $ 1,477,285 15.91 Cash and due from banks 0.06 Adjustments, net of tax Adjusted basic earnings per common share 1,630,485 $ 20.93 $ 0.35 Investments-held to maturity, taxable Total liabilities Net loans 12,223 % % 1,477,285 427 $ 14,052 Balance Sheets – Period End 0.24 % 0.20 % 158,287 NPAs as a percent of total assets (2) 1,414,280 $ 4,236 476 Goodwill 20.93 0.88 1600 10,659 $ 0.85 Real estate loans – construction 15.59 7.55 Savings, interest bearing checking and money market accounts June 30, 2015 0.06 2015 % For the Nine Months Ended 763 % 0.05 % 2016 187 8 Average cost of interest bearing deposits 2016 Merchants Bancshares, Inc Other liabilities 1,753,967 153,822 $ Investment in real estate limited partnerships 11.36 $ 2,226 2016 150 10,115 237,451 — Interest and dividends on investments 268,530 — $ 1,869,402 0.63 1,799,986 207,067 763 191,757 — Goodwill 3,255 10.20 450,584 1.95 29,469 10,626 $ June 30, Investments-available for sale, taxable 558,004 3,449 1,414,280 0.57 Other assets 34,802 9.91 35,371 1.97 195,410 Net (charge-offs) recoveries to average loans 6,349 22.74 2.80 219,247 0.04 6,967 $ $ 13.83 0.80 Financial Highlights (unaudited) $ Book value per share 10,308 % 2.04 Balance Sheets – Year-to-Date Averages $ June 30, 17.10 13,631 9,854 3,131 148,054 73,630 0.62 $ 2015 1,994,655 Mobile & internet banking 1,898,710 610,499 18,801 132,646 43,022 Core deposit intangible 3.33 233,934 1,245,722 — % $ 3.74 3.79 — 1,401 407 2,012,910 2,265 0.64 1,047 Real estate loans – commercialcenter_img Ratios and Supplemental Information – Period End 148,054 1,736,523 $ 1.63 Tangible assets 586,773 1,395,393 1,019,656 Non-interest bearing deposits 584,392 Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, short-term $ Tangible stockholders’ equity 620,224 148,163 139,727 December 31, Financial Highlights (unaudited) Severance and retirement costs 345 1,382,973 $ 424 % 15,000 7,011 1,206,002 Operating Results 15 Loans 1,050 Investments-available for sale, taxable June 30, 2016 1,277 $ 424 29,324 12,040 2016 796 3,221 122,924 1,395,393 $ 13,058 1,207 450,673 $ 5,803 $ Total assets 30,221 0.90 886 1,818 12,065 2015 % 14,386 10,709 54 2015 3,571 % 4,378 298,973 % For the Nine Months Ended 1,108 $ 38,419 (1)  The efficiency ratio excludes amortization of intangibles, OREO expenses, gain/loss on sales of securities, state franchise taxes, and any significant nonrecurring items. 627,883 $ Time deposits 3,214 Loan Portfolios: $ 0.68 Telephone expense 379 1,891,143 September 30, Non-GAAP Financial Measures. In addition to results presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), this press release contains certain non-GAAP financial measures, such as core net income, tangible capital ratio and fully taxable equivalent net interest income. Net interest income is presented on a fully taxable equivalent basis, specifically included in interest income was tax-exempt interest income from certain tax-exempt loans. An amount equal to the tax benefit derived from this tax exempt income is added back to the interest income total, to produce net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis. Merchants Bancshares believes that the supplemental non-GAAP information is utilized by regulators and market analysts to evaluate a company’s financial condition and therefore such information is useful to investors. These disclosures should not be viewed as a substitute for financial results determined in accordance with GAAP, nor are they necessarily comparable to non-GAAP performance measures which may be presented by other companies. Because non-GAAP financial measures are not standardized, it may not be possible to compare these financial measures with other companies’ non-GAAP financial measures having the same or similar names. Additionally, capital ratios as presented are preliminary and will not be finalized until the Company completes and files its regulatory reporting.Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking StatementsCertain statements contained in this press release that are not historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. These statements, which are based on certain assumptions and describe Merchants Bancshares’ future plans, strategies and expectations, can generally be identified by the use of the words “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “plan,” “potential,” “estimate,” “project,” “believe,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “target” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are based on the current assumptions and beliefs of management and are only expectations of future results. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of, among others ; costs or difficulties related to the integration of NUVO; weakness in general, national, regional or local economic conditions, the performance of the investment portfolio, quality of credits or the overall demand for services; changes in loan default and charge-off rates which could affect the allowance for credit losses; declines in the equity and financial markets; reductions in deposit levels which could necessitate increased and/or higher cost borrowing to fund loans and investments; declines in mortgage loan refinancing, equity loan and line of credit activity which could reduce net interest and non-interest income; changes in the domestic interest rate environment and inflation; changes in the carrying value of investment securities and other assets; misalignment of interest-bearing assets and liabilities; increases in loan repayment rates affecting interest income and the value of mortgage servicing rights; changing business, banking, or regulatory conditions or policies, or new legislation affecting the financial services industry that could lead to changes in the competitive balance among financial institutions, restrictions on bank activities, changes in costs (including deposit insurance premiums), increased regulatory scrutiny, declines in consumer confidence in depository institutions, or changes in the secondary market for bank loan and other products; changes in accounting rules, federal and state laws, IRS regulations, and other regulations and policies governing financial holding companies and their subsidiaries which may impact Merchants Bancshares’ ability to take appropriate action to protect financial interests in certain loan situations; the ability of the Company and Community Bank System, Inc. (“CBU”) to satisfy the conditions set forth in the Merger Agreement (as defined and discussed below), disruptions to the Company’s business during the pendency of the Merger (as defined and discussed below; and the proposed merger with CBU.You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and are cautioned that forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. Actual performance and results of operations may differ materially from those projected or suggested in the forward-looking statements due to certain risks and uncertainties, which are included in more detail in the Annual Report on Form 10-K, as updated by Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Merchants Bancshares’ does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date the forward-looking statements are made.Source:  SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Merchants Bank % 1,878,135 Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 0.52 10.75 % Short-term borrowings 500 % 476 % 5,785 726 107 665,623 6,338,158 Commercial, financial and agricultural 21,541 4,378 31 214 % 615,401 12,914 Total liabilities 1,133 2015 5,768 $ 156,293 % 3,911 — 1,898,710 283,454 399 276,083 620,142 21.59 15,559 7.55 158,287 2.95 June 30, Total assets Other long-term debt 13 215 Installment loans June 30, % 425 $ 2,545 2016 105,421 9,248 Total risk-based capital ratio 1,836,368 44 20,619 19,277 10,833 2,606 September 30, 399 1,036 Service charges on deposits 0.06 % $ 1,094 3.05 1,359,958 1,994,655 % 829 843 $ 8.77 153,773 15,746 268,614 1.62 Other noninterest income 6,865,598 2015 20,619 $ $ Community Bank System, Inc. merger costs 112,007 398 2,666 764 4,378 Nonperforming assets (“NPAs”) (2) Other liabilities 10,591 676 704 2,286 % % 575,492 2016 476 % Average yield on investments 6,333 651 % 3,856 Core deposit intangible 1,975 September 30, $ Financial Highlights (unaudited) 206,181 279,416 Other noninterest expense 1,195 Core / Item processing 1,233,638 6,872 2,847 Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”) stock Interest bearing liabilities % Ratios and Supplemental Information Net, debit card income % 10,131 Other assets 10,924 NUVO Bank & Trust Company acquisition costs September 30, (1)  The tangible capital ratio is calculated by dividing tangible equity by tangible assets.  See Tangible Capital Ratio reconciliation below. 225,442 1,266 4,234 248 1,112 1.72 104,578 12,601 September 30, 50,788 % 2016 0.62 — NUVO Bank & Trust Company acquisition related expenses 5,238 Tangible Capital Ratio: Efficiency ratio (1) September 30, 41,245 11,767 12,073 215 — 279,995 — Interest income 1,360 1,065 6,872 867 ALL as a percent of total loans 25,066 11,420 213,853 % 413 0.33 609 6,886 0.33 — 5,687 1,946,950 15,019 Adjusted Net Income Total deposits 925 201,601 GAAP net income as reported 560,056 Average yield on loans 12,269 243,048 $ Total interest and dividend income Amounts reported for prior periods are reclassified, where necessary, to be consistent with the current period presentation. 2.82 2,099 $ For the Three Months Ended 8.93 137,176 254,572 % 1,426,966 3.29 2015 132,646 5,508 0.49 Interest and fees on loans 119,674 Weighted average common shares outstanding 6,877,536 1,975 12,249 154 637 2016 6,899,116 6,886,607 (67) 5,285 6,345,554 0.37 For the Three Months Ended 0.57 7,036 1.79 3.08 0.00 September 30, % Net income $ 2016 Cash and due from banks 0.35 % Other long-term debt Net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis 3,395 $ 1.71 NPLs as a percent of total loans (2) 0.32 459 September 30, Non-GAAP Reconciliation: 2016 % 1,988 % 0.38 % 0.68 1,873,183 % 40,748 672 $ 0.54 22,294 $ 79 (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) 157 414 40,455 4,366 6,338 2.96 1,496,245 1,360 131,604 % % 3.73 Savings, interest bearing checking and money market accounts 210,527 For the Nine Months Ended 10,308 318 213 1.98 Net interest income after provision for credit losses 264,633 0.79 1,294,344 677 200 Savings, interest bearing checking and money market accounts % 3.69 70,000 3.19 Overdraft income Net interest margin 36,906 3.20 595 783 277 Noninterest expense 0.35 (2)  Non-performing loans have been updated to exclude accruing troubled debt-restructure loans.  Prior periods have been reclassified to be consistent with the current 31,079 1,245,861 0.61 September 30, Tangible book value per share % Average cost of borrowed funds 20,619 % $ 6,967 1,257,932 0.39 $ (51) 2.92 765 Investments-available for sale, taxable 10,153 25 20.38 7.84 Earning assets % 0.80 Core deposit intangible Tax effect 447 % 6,967 $ 274,990 10,626 $ Occupancy expense Interest expense 468,443 1.73 11.93 11,767 3.03 % 153 9,649 2.90 Goodwill 1,497,507 6,349,086 Vermont Business Magazine Merchants Bancshares, Inc (NASDAQ: MBVT), which revealed Tuesday that it will be acquired by Syracuse-based Community Bank System, Inc, (NYSE: CBU) next year, has announced net income of $3.9 million and $0.57 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2016 compared to net income of $4.4 million or $0.63 per diluted share in the second quarter of 2016 and $3.9 million in net income or $0.61 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2015. Excluding acquisition, merger, severance and retirement costs, net of tax, the Company’s adjusted net income was $4.3 million or $0.62 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2016. This compares to adjusted net income of $4.2 million or $0.61 per diluted share on a linked quarter basis and adjusted net income of $4.3 million or $0.68 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2015.For the nine months ended September 30, 2016, net income was $11.8 million, or $1.71 per diluted share, compared to net income of $10.3 million, or $1.62 per diluted share, for the same period in 2015. Excluding acquisition, merger, severance and retirement costs, net of tax, the company’s adjusted net income was $12.3 million or $1.79 per diluted share for the nine months of 2016. This compares to adjusted net income of $10.9 million or $1.72 per diluted share for the same period in 2015.The return on average assets was 0.80% for the three months ended September 30, 2016, compared to 0.90% in the linked quarter and 0.88% for the same period in 2015. The return on average equity was 9.91% for the three months ended September 30, 2016, compared to 11.36% in the linked quarter and 11.93% for the same period in 2015.The Company’s Board of Directors approved a dividend of $0.28 per share, payable November 23, 2016, to stockholders of record as of November 10, 2016. Based on the closing price of $32.39 per share on September 30, 2016 and the annual dividend payout of $1.12 per share, the dividend represents an annualized yield of 3.46%.Geoffrey Hesslink, Merchants Bancshares, Inc.’s President and Chief Executive Officer commented, “We look forward to becoming part of Community Bank System, Inc. as it enables us to further enhance the outstanding service and commitment that our customers and communities have come to expect from Merchants Bank. I thank our management team and talented employees for their continued focus on achieving our strategic priorities. We remain committed to delivering exceptional service to our customers.”Due to the pending transaction with Community Bank System, Inc, Merchants Bancshares will not have an earnings call for its third quarter results.RELATED: Community Bank System of NY to acquire Merchants for $304 millionThird Quarter 2016 Financial Highlights Balance Sheet:Total assets were $1.99 billion as of September 30, 2016, an increase of $95.9 million over the linked quarter and $176.3 million increase from the third quarter of 2015. The increase over the linked quarter was driven mainly by loan growth.Gross loans at September 30, 2016 totaled $1.48 billion, an increase of $81.9 million over the linked quarter and a $219.4 million increase from the third quarter of 2015. The linked quarter increase in ending and average loan balances since June 30, 2016 reflects growth in commercial real estate loans and normal seasonal increase in municipal loans. Municipal loans increased approximately $51.4 million from June 30, 2016. Total commercial loans, defined as commercial, commercial real estate and construction increased $37.1 million from June 30, 2016. The increase in loan balances from the third quarter of 2015 reflects organic growth and the addition of the acquired NUVO Bank & Trust Company (“NUVO”) loan portfolio.Total deposits were $1.50 billion for the third quarter of 2016, an increase of $50.5 million over the linked quarter and an increase of $116.4 million from the third quarter of 2015. The increase on a linked quarter basis was primarily attributable to growth in money market and demand deposit balances partially offset by planned decrease in higher-cost NUVO time deposits. The increase from the third quarter of 2015 was primarily due to the acquisition of NUVO during the fourth quarter of 2015.Total stockholders’ equity ended the quarter at $158.3 million. Tangible book value per share increased by $0.24 to $21.80 per share at September 30, 2016 from $21.56 per share at June 30, 2016. The increase over the linked quarter was due to growth of $0.57 per share in the net income, partially offset by dividends paid of $0.28 per share. Reported book value per share was $22.99 per share at September 30, 2016 as compared to $22.74 per share at June 30, 2016 and $20.93 per share at September 30, 2015.Income Statement:Taxable equivalent net interest income was $14.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2016, which is consistent with the $14.4 million for the quarter ending June 30, 2016, but an increase from $12.6 million for the same period in 2015. GAAP net interest income in the third quarter of 2016 was $13.8 million, compared to $13.8 million in the linked quarter and $12.1 million in the third quarter of 2015. The increase in the net interest margin over the same period year ago is driven by the acquisition of NUVO.The taxable equivalent net interest margin for the three months ended September 30, 2016 was 3.03%, a decrease of 5 basis points on a linked quarter basis and an increase of 7 basis points from the third quarter of 2015. The linked quarter decrease reflected lower asset yields. Interest earning assets increased by $8.7 million over the linked quarter, mainly driven by the increase in average loan balances. The increase in the net interest margin from the same period in 2015 was driven by higher loan yields and changes in the loan mix.Provision for credit losses was $500 thousand in the third quarter of 2016, compared to $200 thousand in the linked quarter and $150 thousand in the third quarter of 2015. Provision expense was elevated in the third quarter mainly due to new loan growth.Noninterest income for the third quarter of 2016 was $3.1 million, a decrease of $90 thousand on a linked quarter basis and a decline of $318 thousand from the third quarter of 2015. The decrease on a linked quarter basis was attributable to lower debit card and other fee income. The decrease from the third quarter of 2015 was primarily due to a non-recurring miscellaneous income of $440 thousand in the same period year ago.Noninterest expense was $11.4 million for the third quarter of 2016, compared to $10.8 million in the second quarter of 2016 and $10.6 million in the third quarter of 2015. Noninterest expense increased by $587 thousand over the linked quarter primarily due to increase in compensation expense. Noninterest expense grew by $829 thousand over the third quarter of 2015 mainly due to the acquisition of NUVO in December 2015. Adjusted noninterest expense (excl. merger, acquisition, severance and retirements costs) was $10.9 million in the third quarter, compared to $11.0 million in the linked quarter and $10.0 million in the third quarter 2015.The effective tax rate was 24% for the nine months ended on September 30, 2016 compared to 20% for the corresponding period in 2015, mainly due to changes in business mix composition which increased the taxable portion of pre-tax income and related tax provision.Credit Quality and Capital Ratios:The allowance for loan losses (“ALL”) as of September 30, 2016 was $12.5 million, or 0.85% of gross loans, compared to $12.4 million, or 0.89% of gross loans, on a linked quarter basis and $12.2 million, or 0.97% of gross loans, as of September 30, 2015. ALL as a percentage of gross loans decreased on a linked quarter basis due to a charge-off on a purchased loan in the third quarter. ALL as a percentage of gross loans for the third quarter of 2016 has decreased from the third quarter in 2015 due to the addition of loan balances acquired from NUVO. These loans were acquired at fair value on the acquisition date, without carryover of any of NUVO’s allowance for loan losses as required by accounting standards.Nonperforming loans were $4.2 million, or 0.29% of total loans, at September 30, 2016, compared to 0.32% of total loans at June 30, 2016 and 0.06% of total loans at September 30, 2015. ALL as a percentage of nonperforming loans was 296% at September 30, 2016 compared to 1600% at September 30, 2015. Accruing loans past due 31-90 days were 0.06% for the third quarter of 2016 compared to 0.06% in the second quarter of 2016 and 0.01% in the third quarter of 2015. Merchants Bank continues to experience excellent credit quality.Estimated regulatory capital ratios at September 30, 2016:Common Equity Tier 1 – 12.78%Tier 1 Leverage – 8.84%Total Risk-Based Capital – 15.59%Tangible Capital – 7.55%Proposed Transaction with Community Bank System, Inc.On October 22, 2016, Merchants Bancshares and Community Bank System, Inc. (NYSE: CBU) entered into a definitive agreement under which Community Bank System, Inc. will acquire Merchants Bancshares in a cash and stock transaction for total consideration valued at approximately $304 million.  The combination will provide natural market extension for both companies, joining two high-quality, low-risk franchises with long histories of service to their customers and communities.Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of Merchants Bancshares will have the option to receive, at their election, consideration per share equal to (i) 0.963 shares of Community Bank System, Inc. common stock, (ii) $40.00 in cash or (iii) the combination of 0.6741 shares of Community Bank System, Inc. common stock and $12.00 in cash, subject to an overall proration to 70% stock and 30% cash. The cash and stock consideration would be equivalent to $44.02 for each share of Merchants Bancshares common stock based upon the closing price of Community Bank System, Inc. common stock as of October 21, 2016. The merger is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by the shareholders of Merchants Bancshares and required regulatory approvals. Additional information about the transaction can be found in the joint press release issued on October 24, 2016, which is available on the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website at is external).ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND WHERE TO FIND ITIn connection with the proposed merger with CBU, CBU will file with the SEC a registration statement on Form S-4 that will include a proxy statement of the Company and a prospectus of CBU, as well as other relevant documents concerning the proposed merger.  Investors and stockholders are urged to read the registration statement and the proxy statement/prospectus and the other relevant materials filed with the SEC when they become available, as well as any amendments or supplements to those documents, because they will contain important information. A free copy of the proxy statement/prospectus, when available, as well as other filings containing information about the Company and CBU, may be obtained at the SEC’s Internet site ( is external)).  You will also be able to obtain these documents, when available, free of charge from the Company at is external) under the heading “Investor Relations” and then “SEC Filings” or from CBU by accessing its website at is external) under the heading of “Investor Relations” and then “SEC Filings & Annual Report.”  Copies of the proxy statement/prospectus can also be obtained, free of charge and when available, by directing a request to Merchants Bancshares, Inc., P.O. Box 1009, Burlington, Vermont 05402, Attention: Investor Relations, Telephone: (900) 322-5222 or to Community Bank System, Inc., 5790 Widewaters Parkway, DeWitt, New York 13214, Attention: Investor Relations, Telephone: (315) 445-2282.PARTICIPANTS IN SOLICITATIONThe Company and CBU and certain of their respective directors and executive officers may be deemed to participate in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of the Company in connection with the proposed merger.  Information about the directors and executive officers of the Company and their ownership of the Company common stock is set forth in the proxy statement for its 2016 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on Schedule 14A on April 15, 2016 and the definitive additional proxy soliciting materials for the Company’s 2016 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on May 3, 2016.  Information about the directors and executive officers of CBU and their ownership of CBU common stock is set forth in the proxy statement for its 2016 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on Schedule 14A on April 1, 2016.  Additional information regarding the interests of those participants and other persons who may be deemed participants in the transaction may be obtained by reading the proxy statement/prospectus regarding the proposed merger when it becomes available.  Free copies of this document when available may be obtained as described in the preceding paragraph. % 6.94 Return on average stockholders’ equity 50,695 1,173,701 14,371 4,844 Net loans $ Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, short-term September 30, 302 % 571 206 Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, short-term $ 0.00 (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) 61.24 (0.06) — 3,048 (7) 1,414,717 148 $ Merchants Bancshares, Inc $ (43) 1,670,727 606,200 20,619 % % 59.80 Total noninterest expense 59.72 $ $ % $ $ % September 30, 0.01 3,047 7,629 2015 3,680 Bank premises and equipment, net Short-term borrowings Total noninterest income 1,257,932 December 31, % 595 2016 0.61 % Total deposits $ 4,366 123,929 22.99 285,723 1,957,782 1,394 (133) Core deposit intangible amortization ALL as a percent of NPLs (2) 286,639 13,297 (72) 40,879 64.09 363 319 $ % 3.30 975 1,264 (226) 132,646 41,360 $ 665,271 281 667 Weighted average diluted shares outstanding Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Income before provision for income taxes % 6,332,663 1,890,580 51 631,244 616 % 456,132 476 Non-interest bearing deposits Savings, interest bearing checking and money market accounts 7,972 2016 102,868 968 Net (charge-offs) recoveries (0.03) % 4,303 $ 12,420 $ 1,360 — 6,878 30,605 734 6,866 Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust Weighted average diluted shares outstanding % 195,044 % 1,818,341 2.95 $ 42,400 Financial Highlights (unaudited) 1,327 Average cost of interest bearing liabilities 7,388 % 0.97 1,258 $ 150,069 Short-term borrowings 4,196 $ $ Financial Highlights (unaudited) $ 196 $ 14,943 577 218 186last_img read more

Vermont Climate Action Commission to host statewide ‘listening tour’

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Vermont Climate Action Commission will be hosting a series of public scoping sessions through the state in September and October to gather input and recommendations from Vermonters.  The Commission hopes to hear people’s experiences in dealing with the effects of climate change, as well as their ideas for potential actions that the Commission could recommend to the Governor’s office.   The Climate Action Commission was formed by Governor Phil Scott to unify Vermont’s ambitious climate and economic goals.  It is chaired by Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Peter Walke and co-chaired by Paul Costello, Executive Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development.  Other committee members come from a wide variety of fields in both the public and private sector, and represent business, energy, and environmental organizations.“Vermont’s response to climate change presents a tremendous opportunity to continue growing the state’s economy while protecting the environment and improving our quality of life,” said Deputy Secretary Walke.  “We want to know how this issue is affecting Vermonters and to hear their ideas for how we can address climate change in ways that align with Governor Scott’s goals to strengthen the economy, make Vermont more affordable, and protect the most vulnerable.”The public hearings are from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. as follows:Wednesday, September 13 – Kingdom Taproom community meeting hall, 397 Railroad Street, St. Johnsbury, VTThursday, September 21 – Hunter Seminar Room, Tuttle Memorial Library, Burr and Burton Academy, 57 Seminary Avenue, Manchester, VTThursday, September 28 – City Hall Auditorium, 100 North Main Street, St. Albans, VTThursday, October 5 – Marlboro College Graduate School, Room 1-E, 28 Vernon Street, Brattleboro, VTReasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities are available upon request.  Please include a description of the accommodation you will need.  Individuals making such requests must include their contact information.  Please send an e-mail to [email protected](link sends e-mail) or call 802-828-1294 (direct voice) or 1-800-253-0191 (TTY).More information about the work of the Vermont Climate Action Commission is available at: is external)Source: Vermont Climate Action CommissionVBM vermontbiz.comlast_img read more

Leahy details major Lake Champlain funding

first_imgVermont Business Magazine In Senator Leahy’s first full year as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, funding to protect and restore Lake Champlain is at an historic high water mark. In a statement, Leahy said this is despite a spending plan from President Trump and his administration that would have eliminated many clean water programs.The EPA Lake Champlain Program is funded at $8.399 million, an increase of $4 million over FY17.  The $4 million increase is to be targeted to implement Vermont’s 2016 Phosphorus TMDL while the base of $4.399 will fund ongoing work in Vermont and New York.  While still being finalized, the $4 million will enable two new programs targeting the biggest problems:Developed Lands Implementation Projects:  $1.805 million $100,000:  Saint Albans integrated storm water management and phosphorus control demonstration plan.  The City of Saint Albans will work with private property owners and businesses to assess storm water control needs and opportunities and to design solutions that achieve optimal reductions across both the public and private landscape.$250,000:  Municipal storm water innovative grants.  Competitive funds for municipalities to undertake cross-sector storm water planning as being demonstrated by St. Albans. $1.3 million:  Combined Sewer Overflow/Green Streets Infrastructure/Storm Water prevention Grants:   Competitive grants that complement and add to the $780,000 enhanced implementation grants through Lake Champlain Basin Program from the $4.399 base funding.    $130,000:  Waste water treatment plant phosphorus removal optimization.   Technical assistance funding will help Vermont Waste Water Treatment operators improve phosphorus removal.Agricultural Phosphorus Reduction Projects:  $2.195 million$722,000:  Enhanced implementation of USDA conservation programs.  Additional engineering and technical assistance will be provided to address bottlenecks now reducing access to larger ($20M in 2017) USDA EQIP funding opportunity.  The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program will be supported pending resolution of USDA rule change excluding Vermont from the program.  Farm agronomic practices will be promoted through on the ground technical assistance.$755,000:  Lynchpin wetland restorations by the Resource Conservation Partnership Program. $158,000:  Riparian tree plantings.$115,000:  Quantification of phosphorus storage in wetlands.175,000: Implementation of Vermont Basin Wide phosphorus optimization tool. Missisquoi Bay Municipal Roads Storm Water Grants This will complement the new municipal storm water grants.  Senator Leahy previously earmarked funds of about $4 million for work on the Route 78 causeway that have been reprogrammed in prior year federal spending language and now in 2018 will be used for roadway storm water improvements in the Missisquoi Bay watershed.  Of that amount, more than $2 million that will go in 2018 to municipal road storm water grants administered by the Northwest Regional Planning Commission.Great Lakes Fishery Commission:  $5 millionThis is an increase of $1.5 million over 2017.  The highest priority use of these dollars is to fund the highly successful sea lamprey control program at a cost of between $750,000 and $900,000 per year (varies depending on streams being treated).  The remaining funds of just over $4 million are allocated by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to a range of species and habitat restoration projects as well as water quality work, research and environmental education.  Specific allocations for 2018 are not yet final but generally are likely to include the following work in Vermont and New York:Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) including boat launch stewards.LCBP water quality monitoring.LCBP competitive grants for schools and non-profits for education and outreach and invasive species work.Riparian buffer outreach and education, LCBP.Lake trout research, University of Vermont.Riparian habitat restoration including fish passage work and stream bank stabilization. River run land locked Atlantic salmon restoration.Wetland restoration.EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund The EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) is the federal government’s most important source of grant funding for municipal sewage treatment, storm water and similar infrastructure work.  The CWSRF funding has been on a general downward trajectory for decades.  Senator Leahy made this national program a priority.  Working in a bipartisan approach in his first full year as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the CWSRF saw its first increase in many years.  For 2018 there will be $300 million more available for a total of $1.693 billion nationally, with Vermont’s allotment going up more than $1 million to a total of $7.9 million.US Army Corps of Engineers.  As a result of Senator Leahy’s efforts in 2018 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have the necessary dollars to continue funding water chestnut control work on Lake Champlain at a cost of more than $300,000. Lake Champlain Sea Grant.   Not yet final and not being formally announced at this time, Senator Leahy’s work on the legislation funding the National Sea Grant Program makes it highly likely that the Lake Champlain Sea Grant program at the University of Vermont and SUNY Plattsburgh will see its funding more than double in 2018 to at least $1 million.  This should be confirmed later in the summer.Source: Leahy 6.4.2018last_img read more