JB PHILLIPS CONSULTING, LLC, a Vermont-based public finance advisory firm, has been established to serve the capital needs of smaller government and non-profit entities in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.As municipalities, school districts, and non-profits (including hospitals, independent schools and museums) assess the need for improvements, renovations and building projects, alternative funding sources may be considered to avoid deferring facility upgrades.Judy Phillips, Norwich, the firms founder and Principal, is an experienced public finance professional, with over 20 years experience in both the public (NYC government) and private (JP Morgan, Bankers Trust and Merrill Lynch) sectors. She can assist non-profit issuers with their capital plans, through preparation of tax-exempt issues for project financing and as an advisor for investor relations.For additional information about the firm, check the web site: www.jbphillipsconsulting.com(link is external), or call Judy Phillips at (802) 649-2389.###
Montpelier, VT USA Risk Group announced today its expansion of its Burlington offices. They have recently hired two experienced captive insurance account managers, Jenny Denison and Judy McNally to assist in the continued captive growth of the Group.With the two new hires, the Burlington office will be taking new office space in the Gateway Plaza office building at 30 Main Street, Suite 450 in Burlington effective December 12th.USA Risk Group is a leading alternative risk service provider with offices in Arizona, Bermuda, BVI, Cayman Islands, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, and USVI. Business Insurance recently named USA Risk Group the 2nd largest independent captive manager and 7th largest in the world. Further details on USA Risk Group are available at www.usarisk.com(link is external).
For complete survey findings, go to http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org(link is external) on the Web.METHODOLOGYThe Civil Society Institute survey by Opinion Research Corporation was conducted February 19-22, 2010 among a sample of 802 adults comprising 399 men and 403 women 18 years of age and older living in the state of Vermont. Completed interviews are weighted by two variables, age and gender, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total state population, 18 years of age and older. The margin of error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. ABOUT THE CIVIL SOCIETY INSTITUTEBased in Newton, MA, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org(link is external)) is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 25 major national and state-level surveys and reports on energy and auto issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy. In addition to being a co-convener of CLEAN, the Civil Society Institute also is the parent organization of 40MPG.org (http://www.40MPG.org(link is external)) and the Hybrid Owners of America (http://www.HybridOwnersofAmerica.org(link is external)). EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the March 1, 2010 news event at which the Vermont survey results were announced is available on the Web at http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org(link is external).SOURCE Civil Society Institute, Newton, MA. MONTPELIER, Vt., March 4, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ As predicted based on a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) for the nonpartisan and nonprofit Civil Society Institute, the vast majority of Vermont Town Meetings deliberating this week the fate of the Vermont Yankee came out in support of closure of the controversial nuclear reactor by 2012. The final tally of Town Meetings in Vermont opposing the relicensing of Vermont Yankee was 14-1. The town of Rockingham was alone in passing a pro-Vermont Yankee resolution and, even then, only by a margin of three votes, according to reports. Towns voting in favor of shutting down Vermont Yankee were: Thetford, Bristol, Fayston, Brookfield, Montgomery, Woodstock, Moretown, Waitsfield, Danville, Cabot, Huntington, Sharon, and Jamaica. Additionally, Cambridge elected to table the issue.Pam Solo, founder and president, Civil Society Institute, said: “Our survey pointed to the likelihood that the Vermont Town Halls would come out along the lines of the earlier Vermont Senate vote to close Vermont Yankee by 2012. With literally dozens of other reactors plagued with similar tritium leaks, we see a clear message here for a U.S. nuclear power industry: You can’t sell Americans on the notion that you are providing ‘clean and safe’ power at the same time that you are leaking a radioactive substance into wells and other bodies of water. Citizens in other states may not be able to intervene as directly in reactor issues as Vermonters can, but the Town Hall votes and our survey findings suggest that Americans are unlikely to remain silent about tritium leaks and other legitimate safety concerns.”The Civil Society Institute’s scientific survey of 802 adult Vermont residents was based on Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) polling that took place February 19-22nd immediately before the Vermont Senate vote on Vermont Yankee relicensing. CSI believes that the findings resonate nationally in that a main driver of deteriorating public support for Vermont Yankee centered on the leaking of radioactive tritium, a problem that also is playing out at 27 or more of the nation’s 104 reactors across 31 states.Key survey findings reported by Opinion Research Corporation included the following:About two thirds of Vermont residents (65 percent) say “reports about Vermont Yankee leaking radioactive tritium into testing wells and surrounding water” make them “more likely to support the 2012 closure of the reactor.” That includes 44 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents. Of those Vermont residents who heard about the radioactive tritium leak at Vermont Yankee, nearly four in five (79 percent) said they are concerned about it, including more than half (52 percent) who are “very concerned.” Only about one in five (21 percent) of this group said that they were not concerned, with just 6 percent saying they were “not concerned at all.” Even when the 20 percent of state residents who have not heard about the tritium leak are added, the percentage of all state residents who are concerned about the tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee still accounts for 63 percent of the state’s adult population. Overall, 71 percent of state residents are “less supportive now of Vermont Yankee, the nuclear reactor, than [they] were six months ago.” That includes 57 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Democrats and two thirds of Independents. Given a choice, fewer than one in 10 Vermont residents (9 percent) would ask their power company to use nuclear energy to power their homes, compared to 71 percent who selected “wind, solar and other clean-energy technologies.”The fact that Entergy has been unable to find the source of the tritium leaks makes more than three out of fourVermont residents (76 percent) “less confident in the company’s ability to safely manage a nuclear reactor”.About half of Vermont residents (49 percent) see nuclear power as a “power source of yesterday,” compared to compared to 94 percent for solar, 92 percent for wind and 78 percent for hydroelectric as “power sources of tomorrow” that should play a bigger, rather than smaller, role in the U.S. energy supply picture. Nine out of 10 Vermont residents (89 percent) say that Entergy — not Vermont taxpayers — “should have to foot the bill for decommissioning Vermont Yankee.” That includes 83 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats and 90 percent of Independents.68 percent of Vermont residents would support closure of Vermont Yankee in 2012 “assuming that a combination of increased energy efficiency, clean energy, such as hydroelectric, wind and solar and natural gas could be used to offset the electricity from the reactor.” That includes 48 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Independents. 71 percent of Vermont residents would support closure of Vermont Yankee in 2012 “assuming that many new jobs could be created through investments in new clean energy technologies, such as hydroelectric, wind and solar.” That includes 47 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Independents. Only 46 percent of state residents trust Entergy to clean up the tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee, compared to 47 percent who do not.Two thirds of Vermonters now give Entergy a low rating for “trustworthiness” — with 37 percent saying “very low” and 29 percent “somewhat low.” Only about one in four state residents (26 percent) give Entergy high marks for trustworthiness.Nearly three out five state residents (58 percent) give Entergy low marks for “competence” — with 26 percent saying “very low” and 33 percent “somewhat low.” Fewer than one in three (29 percent) give Entergy high marks for competence.Four out of five state residents (79 percent) have heard about the tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee. Only 20 percent have not.
Porter Medical Center, Inc,Governor Jim Douglas today awarded a $1 million Community Development Block Grant to a proposed multi-level retirement community located adjacent to the Porter Medical Center campus in Middlebury. At a ceremony on the 40-acre site of the proposed Eastview at Middlebury facility, Governor Douglas said it was expected to employ 29 people within the first two years of operation and could create up to 45 jobs.‘Not only will these jobs help strengthen the economy of Middlebury, but the seniors of this area will have more options for housing and continuing care in the community,’ the Governor said.The $1 million Community Development Block Grant will be given to the Town of Middlebury, sub-granted to Eastview at Middlebury, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which will construct the new project. It will include 99 units of senior housing comprised of 30 one-story cottage homes; 32 independent living apartments; 19 traditional residential care apartments; and 18 special care suites for residents with memory loss. Planned community facilities include a lobby; dining room; private dining room; cafÃ©; country kitchen; media room/auditorium; fitness studio; and hair salon. The center will also feature such services as an emergency response system; 24-hour staffing; dining service; housekeeping; transportation; and a full range of assisted living services.‘These kinds of projects are an important part of Vermont’s housing stock, particularly as more of our population seeks to ‘age in place’ in their communities with friends, family, and services nearby,’ Douglas said.Vermont receives about $7 million annually in federal CDBG funds, which are used principally to benefit persons of low and moderate income. The state awards the competitive grants based on recommendations of the Vermont Community Development Board and approval of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Kevin Dorn.‘These grants are important because they leverage other financial resources and help address critical needs in our communities,’ Governor Douglas said. ‘The $1 million we are awarding will leverage more than $41 million in other funds from private and public sources.’Source: Governor’s office. 9.7.2010. For information about the Vermont Community Development Program, see the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at: http://www.dhca.state.vt.us/VCDP/index.htm(link is external)
Financial analysts reported Monday night that South Burlington’s pension funding shortfall is still over $8 million, but noted solid gains in attempts to shore up the plan’s finances.According to an annual update for the City Council by Tracy Braun of Peoples United Retirement Services and Annie Voldman of Annie Voldman, a consulting actuary, the unfunded part of the municipal retirement fund dropped approximately $800,000 below last year’s $8.9 million shortfall.During the past decade, elected officials seemingly weren’t aware of the fund’s downward slide until they were revealed by new City Manager Sandy Miller. Paying the unfunded part of the plan through a low-interest bond was a strategy introduced during the council’s discussions.Public safety pensions have played a notably large role in the unfunded obligation, says the report summary. Starting this past July, the whole plan was 57 percent funded. However, only 52 percent of public safety pensions were funded compared to 72 percent for nonpublic safety employees.The fund’s assets, according to Voldman, increased by more than $2 million over last year, but increased expenses prevented the shortfall from continuing to shrink.
Driven by reliability and transmission improvements and increasing power costs, Central Vermont Public Service has asked the Vermont Public Service Board to authorize an 8.34 percent rate increase under the company’s alternative regulation plan. The change would leave the company’s rates among the lowest of the major utilities in New England. It would take effect with bills rendered starting Jan. 1, 2011.The bill for a residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would rise from $78.11 to $84.54, a difference of $6.43. By comparison, the same customer would pay as much as $121.80 elsewhere in New England, according to the Edison Electric Institute.Since 1999, CVPS rates have risen at a fraction of the rate of inflation in the energy sector, with a handful of increases and decreases, including a 1.15 percent decrease in July. Overall, rates in 2011 are expected to be 21.8 percent higher than in 1999. Based on the latest federal data available, the Consumer Price Index for Energy has increased 81 percent.‘Controlling costs has been one of my primary goals over the years, and we appreciate the effect any increase has in this economy,’ President Bob Young said. ‘The increase is largely due to increases in power costs and a large increase for reliability improvements and regional transmission costs. I wish we could put off these kinds of costs, but the improvements are critical to customer service and reliability.‘Despite this increase, thanks to solid power supply decisions and a focus on internal cost controls, our rates will remain among the most affordable in the Northeast,’ Young said.Other Vermont utilities have received rate increases ranging from 3.11 percent to as much as 30.76 percent in the past six months.The new rates will serve as the base rates for 2011 under CVPS’s alternative regulation framework. Under the plan, CVPS’s rates are adjusted up or down every quarter to account for specified changes in power costs, and annually for specified changes in other costs and earnings.Source: CVPS. 11.3.2010
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz presented the 2010 Democracy Awards to seven Vermont citizens and organizations at a ceremony at the Vermont Statehouse on December 21.‘These awards honor people who have promoted the tenets of democracy in Vermont. Each of this year’s recipients is a shining example of leadership in the democratic process,’ says Markowitz.The National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award will be presented to Frank Bryan, University of Vermont professor and author; the Burlington Free Press; and John Cushing, Milton Town Clerk/Treasurer.Receiving the Vermont Secretary of State’s Enduring Democracy Award are student interns Ellie Beckett, Katie Levasseur, and Courtney Mattison who helped usher through Proposition 5; and Susan Clark, Middlesex town moderator and author.The Medallion Award was established by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) in 2001 to honor individuals, groups, or organizations with a record of promoting the goals of NASS in one or more of the following areas: improving elections, with special emphasis on voter education and increasing voter participation; civic education, including the teaching, promotion, and study of this subject; and service to state government–specifically, as it relates to improving democracy in the state.The Vermont Secretary of State Enduring Democracy Award honors individuals and organizations that have shown an outstanding commitment to promoting democracy in the Vermont.Frank Bryan, University of Vermont ‘ Frank Bryan is considered an expert on Vermont politics, in particular Vermont’s town meeting tradition. He has authored several books and publications, including the 2005 ‘All Those in Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community.’ Over the years he has been a vocal champion of Vermont local government and the town meeting tradition. In 2007 his testimony was instrumental in passing Act 124, making town meeting a holiday in Vermont.Burlington Free Press – The newspaper is being honored for its extraordinary, bipartisan, in-depth coverage of Vermont’s election. In addition to its regular election coverage, the Burlington Free Press posed questions to the candidates and published candidate responses on its front page and on its opinion page almost daily for months leading up to the election. In addition, the newspaper hosted multiple live web debates and sponsored a political blog that kept Vermonters informed and engaged in the election process.John Cushing ‘ John Cushing has served as the Milton town clerk/treasurer for over 40 years! He is recognized as a leader among his peers and served as the president of the Vermont Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Association and on the secretary of state’s town clerk advisory committee. Over the years he has been instrumental in getting key legislation passed relating to the administration of elections in Vermont.Ellie Beckett, Katie Levasseur, and Courtney Mattison – While interning in the Vermont State House, these three students proposed a constitutional amendment that would permit 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in the primary election. They put this forward to Senator Jeanette White and testified on the merits of the amendment (which became known as Proposition 5) before several legislative committees. The amendment passed out of two legislatures and Proposition 5 was approved by the citizens of Vermont in the 2010 general election.Susan Clark ‘ Susan Clark is being recognized for her commitment to enhancing Vermont’s local democracy. Not only did she coauthor of “All Those In Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community,” but she has been an ardent advocate of town meeting. Through her efforts we now permit towns to adopt a representative town meeting and individuals have the right to take town meeting day off from work. Not only has she contributed to enhancing democracy for the state of Vermont as a whole but she has contributed greatly to her own town, spearheading efforts to energize citizen participation and serving as the town moderator.Visit www.sec.state.vt.us(link is external) for more information about programs offered by the Secretary of State’s Office.
Total Labor Force359,800361,400360,200-1,600-400 Employment339,300341,500338,300-2,2001,000 Unemployment20,50019,90021,900600-1,400 Rate (%)184.108.40.206.2-0.4Vermont’s labor force, employment and unemployment statistics are produced from a combination of a Statewide survey of households and statistical modeling. The data are produced by the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program (LAUS) a cooperative program with the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Vermont Department of Labor. July2011June2011July2010June2011July2010 Changes From The Vermont Department of Labor has announced that the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for July 2011 increased by two-tenths of a percent to 5.7 percent. Although this reflects the third month in a row that Vermont experienced an increase in the statewide rate, the Vermont July 2011 unemployment rate is .4 percent lower than in July 2010, and 3.4 percent lower than the national unemployment rate. Total employment showed a similar pattern, with numbers down from June 2011 but up from July 2010 (sse table below).‘The July numbers reflect mixed indicators on the economic recovery. While the increase in the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is concerning, there were positive job numbers in Vermont in industries such as Manufacturing and Leisure & Hospitality. The country’s economic transition means that job seekers have to translate their current experience – and willingness to learn – to meet the needs of employers who are hiring. There is tremendous opportunity to match-up Vermont’s unemployed, under-employed and ‘discouraged workers’ with the job openings in Vermont. To do this, we need Vermont employers to list their job openings with the Department of Labor, and we need job seekers to register on Vermont Job-Link and work with our regional office staff so we can connect employers with people who are job-ready and available for work. The Department can also provide assistance with training money for employers (Workforce Education & Training Funds) and for workers (WIA, Wagner-Peyser, State Apprenticeship, etc). The best way to find out jobs and eligibility for training money is to visit a regional office’ said Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan. State of Vermont OverviewThe Vermont seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percent in July to 5.7 percent. The United States decreased one-tenth of a percent to 9.1 percent over the same time period. The seasonally-adjusted Vermont data show declines to both total labor force and total employment ‘ 1,600 and 2,200, respectively. Total unemployment increased by 600, though this change is not statistically significant. An analysis of the not-seasonally-adjusted household numbers reflects the opposite – increases to the Vermont labor force and total employment coupled with a decrease to the number of unemployed. July unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 3.7 percent in Hartford to 8.2 percent in Newport (note: local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted). For comparison, the July unadjusted unemployment rate for Vermont was 5.6 percent which is unchanged from the June level. This unadjusted statewide data is down two-tenths of a percent from a year ago. Analysis of Job Changes by IndustryThe preliminary ‘not seasonally adjusted’ jobs numbers for July show a decrease of 6,150 jobs when compared to the revised June numbers. This reported over the month change does not include the 200 job decrease between the preliminary and the revised June estimates due to the inclusion of more data. Overall, this monthly change in the ‘not seasonally adjusted’ numbers between June and July (a decline of 6,150 jobs) is typical. As detailed in the preliminary ‘not seasonally adjusted’ July data, Total Private reports an increase of 3,650 jobs, and Government reports a decrease of 9,800 jobs. In the private sector, Leisure & Hospitality (+1,750 jobs), Construction (+700 jobs) and Education & Health Services (+550 jobs) reported the largest nominal increases. The majority of the reported over the month job loss was concentrated within Local Government Education (-10,250 jobs) which is typical between June and July each year. The seasonally adjusted data for July reports no change from the revised June data. As with the ‘not seasonally adjusted’ data, this over the month change is from the revised June numbers which experienced a downward revision from the preliminary estimates of 500 jobs. A review of the seasonally adjusted July numbers shows Vermont’s Private Industries with an increase of 1,300 jobs which was offset by an equal decline in Total Government. The two sub-industries of note with positive job gains over the month were Accommodation & Food Service (+700) and Durable Manufacturing (+500). Industries with job losses of note were Local Government (-1,500), State Government (-300) and Retail Trade (-300).Vermont Labor Force Statistics (Seasonally Adjusted)