BESB: Business Enterprise Managers' Committee 2006-2007

 

Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors FY 18


Keith Haley, Chairman

Rich Braccia, Vice-Chairman

Brandy Altergott

Mark Dombkowski

Amos Fatorma

Frank Roberts

Chad Farr


James Ferguson, First Alternate

Peter Vlandis, Second Alternate

  


BESB Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors Meeting Dates for 2017:

March 7, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. (teleconference); May 18, 2017 (Special teleconference meeting at 4:00 p.m.); June 6, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. (teleconference); September 16, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. at BESB Office (annual meeting); October 18, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. (Special Meeting); December 5, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. (teleconference). Contact Edward Owens at (860) 602-4198 for additional information and teleconference instructions.

BESB Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors Meeting Dates for 2018:
March 6,  2018 at 4:00 p.m. (teleconference); June 5, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. (teleconference); September 15, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. at BESB Office (annual meeting);  December 4, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. (teleconference). Contact Edward Owens at (860) 602-4198 for additional information and teleconference instructions.

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Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors

Minutes of the October 18, 2017 Special Meeting

 

DRAFT

 

Attendance:

 

Committee:

Keith Haley, Frank Roberts, Brandy Altergott, Amos Fatorma, Rich Braccia, Peter Vlandis

                       

Bureau:

Ed Owens

                               

A roll call of members in attendance was taken.

 

This special meeting of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors was called to review the Request for Proposal issued by the City of Hartford for a food service provider for Goodwin Park.

 

The Committee discussed the content of the RFP and

Frank Roberts made the following motion:

To wave the operation of the restaurant at Goodwin Park in Hartford but to retain the rights to any vending machine opportunities that may arise.

Seconded by: Brandy Altergott

Vote: Yes – 6, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

As there was no further business on the agenda, a motion was made by Peter Vlandis to adjourn.

Seconded by Frank Roberts

Vote: Yes – 6, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Meeting adjourned at 4:25 p.m.

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Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors

Minutes of the September 16, 2017 Annual Meeting

 


DRAFT


 

Attendance:

 

Committee:

Keith Haley, Frank Roberts, Marc Dombkowski, Brandy Altergott, Amos Fatorma, Jim Ferguson, Stephen Hillyer

 

Managers:

Charles Cote, Chad Farr, Anthony Ford, Dave Pelaggi, Peter Vlandis, Elise Zompanti

                       

Bureau:

Ed Owens, Craig Bliven, Tina Rafala

                               

A roll call of all present was taken with each manager stating the facility they manage.

 

The minutes of the June 6, 2017 were brought up for action.

 

Motion made by Brandy Altergott to accept the minutes as presented.

Seconded by Frank Roberts

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Mr. Owens gave an overview of the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) budget. There are still several unknowns. Without a state budget in place, the bureau awaits news on whether the rest areas will be closing. This will affect those located on I-84 and I-91 and North Stonington on I-95; 7 facilities in all.  The operational hours of the buildings at the rest areas had previously been reduced to first shift only. There has been a 50 percent decrease in commissions realized from these locations due to the reduced hours of operation.

 

This reduction does not affect the Merritt Parkway, Wilbur Cross Parkway, and 1-95 rest areas.

 

Overall, FY 17 non-Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program income was down by $20,000. In FY 18, the bureau started the first of 5 annual payments of $50,000 for the opening of vending facilities at 450 Columbus Blvd. This expense may be offset by the projected reduction of expenditures in the categories of new facility openings and initial inventory, which are not anticipated for FY 18. The managers’ insurance coverage increased $18,000 for FY 18.

 

There is no news yet on the re-allotment of Federal Vocational Rehabilitation dollars. The Business Enterprise Program utilized $150,000 of VR funding in FY 17. This may not be available in FY 18.

 

Congressional bill HR 1990, proposing the commercialization of rest areas, is a concern for the program nationally. Almost 400 managers operate rest areas as their business. If passed into law, this could dramatically impact the program. There would not only be the loss of these entrepreneurial opportunities, but also reductions in income to the programs, as many of those states have a set-aside.

Commercialization of the rest areas is also expected to be in the budget that President Trump sends to Congress. It is expected to be a part of the infrastructure improvement plan.

 

Under the topic of Healthy Vending Options, the bureau has set a standard that all vending machines placed under the statewide vending contract must have 30 percent healthy options. This standard became effective on July 1, 2017.

Thirty percent is the level at which the vending industry notes that healthier options may be offered and still allow the machine to be profitable.

 

The American Heart Association has sought Executive Orders from some Governors to enact healthy vending policies. Recently, the state of Louisiana enacted such an executive order. The executive order calls for “The vending machine standard shall be consistent with or stronger than those developed by the American Heart Association or by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/General Services Administration, or by the National Alliance for Nutritional Activity.”

 

Vending facility managers need to be aware of what healthy items they have on the menus and highlight them to their customers.

 

The existing program regulations were discussed. It has been 30 years since the regulations were reviewed in their entirety. In many places, they refer to terms which are now obsolete such as “Board, Executive Director” and “Division of Industries.” Also, back then there were no micro-markets.

 

The revision of the regulations is a lengthy process, which starts with the selection of a sub-committee of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors to work with the bureau on proposed changes. They are then reviewed by Rehabilitation Services Administration for consistency to the federal regulations.

 

With the election of the 2017-2018 Committee, the bureau will ask the Chairman to appoint such a sub-committee.

 

A question has arisen as to whether fees associated with the operation of a Point of Sale (POS) system are a business expense of the facility or a program operational cost.  With the advancement to the Point of Sale units versus the traditional cash register, there are fees associated with the POS system which are not incurred with a cash register. A POS system requires the use of software, which has an annual licensing fee for its use and maintenance. This fee is $595 per register. The facility in question has three registers, representing an annual cost of $1,770.

 

This appears to be similar to the software fees associated with micro-markets. This Committee had previously addressed the issue of micro-markets fees and motioned it was an operational fee of the business. The manager of the operation in question has paid the POS fees but is seeking an opinion from the Committee as to whether they see this as a business expense or a program expense.

 

Motion made by Brandy Altergott that fees associated with the operation of a Point of Sale System are to be a business expense of the facility.

Seconded by Marc Dombkowski

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Facility repairs were discussed. Last year the bureau spent $110,000 on repairs. When an invoice is received at the bureau for processing, the field representative is to call the manager and verify the number of hours being billed. Under the current contract with Commercial, travel time to and from the facility is not to be charged. However, if the technician has to go to pick up a part, that is chargeable time. The bureau is asking all managers to document the times spent on a repair so that the bureau can confirm the hours billed.  This covers all companies, not just Commercial. Repairs may not always be the best option. It may not be cost effective to repair older units. This will be based on the condition and repair history of the unit. If a decision is made to replace the existing unit, it will need to remain on site until the surplus process is complete.  The building manager may be able to offer an alternate spot for short term storage. All decisions on whether to repair or replace will be done on a case by case basis.

 

The National Federation of the Blind Entrepreneur Initiative (NFBEI) offers technical assistance on the Randolph-Sheppard Program. The renewal of the Committee’s membership will be coming up soon. As a smaller state, BESB pays half the amount of a larger state.  Last year the fee was $1,750. That could change slightly for this year. Last year, the Committee motioned to continue its membership. The members were asked if the Committee wishes to continue its membership for the coming year.

 

Chairman Haley spoke positively about the membership in the NFBEI.

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts to renew membership in the National Federation of the Blind Entrepreneur Initiative and to invite a member of NFBEI to present at the next annual meeting.

Seconded by Brandy Altergott

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

In the category of BEP staffing, it was announced that Field Representative John Faenza will be retiring at the end of December. Based on the budget concerns, the bureau will not be seeking a replacement at this time. Staff has been advised of facility reassignments that will be starting in January.

 

The vacation policy was discussed. When the vacation policy was first introduced, BESB had 7 field representatives.  With Mr. Faenza’s retirement there will be only 4 remaining. It may become difficult to provide field representative facility coverage for vacations of the facility managers. The operational needs of the program must first be addressed. This will explained further when the vacation notification process letter is sent out in December.

 

Dates for 2018 Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors meetings were reviewed. The dates proposed were

Tues. 3/6/18, Tues. 6/5/18, Sat. 9/15/18 and Tues. 12/4/18.

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts that the dates of the 2018 will be March 6th, June 5th, December 4th at 4:00 pm. and September 15 at 9:30 a.m.

Seconded by Brandy Altergott

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

A site survey of The New Haven Library was reviewed. The library had advised BESB of their plans to establish a food service at 153 Elm Street. Nick Palermo did a site survey which was emailed to the Committee members. Concerns noted were the off-site food preparation, costs, and heavy competition.

 

BESB currently has a soda and snack machine, with average sales of $60.00 per month for each machine.  These machines are in the employee lounge.

 

Motion made by Brandy Altergott to waive the operation of the proposed snack bar facility at the New Haven Library but to retain our rights to the vending machines at this location.

Seconded by Amos Fatorma

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Separately, the Committee suggested that the Library be approached to see if the machines could be relocated to a public area.

 

September 30th is the close of the federal fiscal year. BESB staff will be working on the RSA-15 federal report. All business reports for September and prior months must be received in October.

 

Mr. Owens noted that there are currently no facility transfers under consideration. Mr. Owens has spoken to Vocational Rehabilitation staff, seeking candidates who would like to consider the program as an option. The Gift Shop at DOT will be relocated across the hall as DOT needs to take over the current location in their expansion of the Highway Unit. DOT is assuming the costs of this move.

 

Committee elections were held. The ballot was reviewed and it was asked if there were any additional nominations from the floor. The additional nomination was added to the ballot. All managers were instructed to vote for only three candidates. The top three vote recipients would be the regular committee members joining the four who remain to serve the second year of their terms. The fourth and fifth highest vote recipients will be first and second alternates.

 

A training session was given on the upcoming changes in the Health Code.

 

Public Act 17-93 -- An Act Concerning the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Recommendations Regarding Adoption of a Model Food Code calls for the adoption of the FDA Food Code beginning July 1, 2018.

 

Some of the points reviewed included:


-- Requirements for registration with the DPH before a permit can be issued by local authorities.


-- Focus on prevention.

-- Revisions to the health code every 4 years with supplements in between.

-- Danger Zone Temperatures: 41 – 135 degrees.

-- Air Temperatures: 33 – 37 degrees.

-- Class 2-4 must have a Certified Food manager.

-- Corrections can be made at the time of the inspection.

-- No numeric score on inspection. Letter based.

-- Class C misdemeanor for failure to cooperate during a food –borne outbreak.

-- ServSafe must be current.

 

Under the agenda item of Open Forum, it was noted by Mr. Owens that each manager has received a summary of their inventory balances. Some managers have agreed to apply their entire commission payments to their balances. They have signed an agreement which acknowledges that it is taxable income and it is to be entered on their business reports.

 

While this is appropriate in some cases, it may cause a hardship to apply a full commission payment to inventory balances in other instances where the facility income is low. Managers may elect to assign a portion of their commissions towards their inventory responsibility. A percentage can be inserted into the agreement. 

 

Date of the next meeting is December 5, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.

 

All members on the ballot were elected to the Committee. As some ballots were electronically sent, the determination of who would be the regular and alternate members was made at the conclusion of the meeting. Chairman Haley assisted in the oversight of the ballot counting.

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts to adjourn.

Seconded by Brandy Altergott

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


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Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors

Minutes of the June 6, 2017 – 4:30 p.m.

                   Quarterly Meeting

 

Attendance:


Committee:

Keith Haley             Rich Braccia          Frank Roberts 

Brandy Altergott    Amos Fatorma        Jim Ferguson                       


Bureau:


Brian Sigman         Ed Owens               Nick Faenza                               


Everyone introduced themselves. 


The minutes of the 3/7/17 and 5/18/17 were brought up for action.


Motion made by Rich Braccia to accept the minutes as presented.


Seconded by Brandy Altergott


Vote: Yes – 4, No – 0, Abstained – 0


Vote count is 4 as two members joined the call after the motion was voted on. 


Chairman Hailey updated the Committee on his trip to Washington, DC to attend the Randolph-Sheppard Fly-In. Meetings were set up with Congressional Representatives   to discuss issues affecting the program. The topics included the award of contracts at Defense Facilities to Ability One without the recognition of the Randolph-Sheppard priority; the lack of opportunities offered by the Veterans’ Administration to Randolph-Sheppard; and the proposed commercialization of the interstate rest areas. 


The participants of the fly-in sought greater communication between the Department of Defense and the Veterans’ Administration with the Department of Education which oversees the Randolph-Sheppard Program.

On the topic of the commercialization of the rest areas, the facts were presented of how this proposed change would negatively affect entrepreneurs who are blind as well as many other small businesses located in the vicinity of the rest areas. The Committee members thanked Chairman Hailey for his involvement in this important effort.  


Ed Owens stated that the recently released Presidential budget includes an allowance for the commercialization of the rest areas. 


Mr. Owens reported that the vending sponsorship payment from Coca-Cola was received. Vocational Rehabilitation, which has been a source of funding support to the BEP has had a budget rescission and funding is very tight. The Legislature will be going into special session to address the state budget for FY18.


Mr. Owens advised the Committee that Coca-Cola, as permitted in their contract, is requesting a 2% increase in the cost of product sold to BEP facilities. A price sheet with the specifics has been requested. The Department of Administrative Services is handling this request. New prices will take effect in July. 


Mr. Owens also spoke of the partnership with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) to develop healthy recipes for over the counter facilities. BESB has already set the standard with vending partners to have 30% of items offered in vending machines to be in the healthy options category. 


BESB’s cooperation with DPH dates back several years. This commitment has been recognized and BESB staff were invited to participate in a recent webinar with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials in a presentation of how to engage agencies in other states which oversee the Randolph-Sheppard Program to become a partner in the healthy choices initiative. 


Mr. Owens spoke of the open Insurance Enrollment period. The options planner was sent to all of the facility managers and a new co-pay rate will begin as of July. 


Motion made by Rich Braccia to adjourn.


Seconded by Brandy Altergott


Vote: Yes – 6, No – 0, Abstained – 0


Meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m. 


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Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors

 Minutes of the May 18, 2017 – 4:00 p.m.

Conference Call

 

 

Attendance: Committee:

Keith Haley             Marc Dombkowski         Frank Roberts

Zac Shaham

                       

Agency:

Brian Sigman          Andrew Norton               Ed Owens

                               

This meeting was called to review the waiver previously issued to the New Haven Parking Authority for the concession operations at Union Station due to expire on June 30, 2017.

 

After a review of the status, the following motion was made.

 

Motion made by Marc Dombkowski to waive the concession operation at Union Station, New Haven but to retain our rights to all vending machines.

Seconded by Frank Roberts

Vote: Yes – 4, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Chairman Haley then reviewed the efforts made in contacting state legislators to advise them of the Committee’s position on the budget proposal which would close the rest areas.

 

The topic of proposed federal legislation which would allow for the commercialization of the highway rest areas was also discussed. Chairman Haley will be going to Washington, DC to discuss with members of Congress the potential impact this proposed legislation would have on the Randolph-Sheppard program. He will update the Committee at their June meeting.

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts to adjourn

Seconded by Marc Dombkowski

Vote: Yes – 4, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Meeting adjourned at  4:40 p.m.

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Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors

 Minutes of the March 7, 2017 – 4:30 p.m.

   Quarterly Meeting

 

 

Attendance: Committee:

Keith Haley             Marc Dombkowski          Zac Shaham

Amos Fatorma        Frank Roberts               Jim Ferguson

Brandy Altergott     Rich Braccia

                       

Agency:

Brian Sigman          Andrew Norton               Ed Owens

Nick Faenza

                               

Everyone introduced themselves.

 

The minutes of the 1/10/17 and 2/8/17 were brought up for action.

 

Motion made by Brandy Altergott to accept the minutes as presented.

Seconded by Amos Fatorma

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

The Transfer & Promotion sub-committee presented their recommendations to the full committee for action. Chairman Hailey noted that the sub-committee followed the criterion as stated in the regulations regarding eligibility for transfer or promotion.

 

Motion made by Marc Dombkowski to accept the recommendations of the Transfer & Promotion sub-committee as presented.

Seconded by Brandy Altergott

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

 

A budget update was given. Mr. Sigman advised that a staff member formerly in BEP has been transferred to Adult Services, as the primary service coordination and advocacy needs of the clients served by this employee have changed from vocational to more of an independent living focus over the years. All thing remaining equal the current income is projected to cover program expenses. The Committee was advised that this is a very tight budget year.

 

Two site survey requests were reviewed by the Committee. The first is a request by the Town of Glastonbury for a Vending Truck at Riverfront Park. The second request was for the establishment of a micro-market at New Britain City Hall.

 

The Committee addressed both locations in the following motion:

 

Motion made by Rich Braccia to waive the Food Cart Operation at Riverfront Park in Glastonbury and also waive the Micro-Market Facility at New Britain City Hall.

Seconded by Marc Dombkowski

Vote: Yes – 7, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Andrew Norton advised the Committee of Senate Bill 796, an effort to incorporate “person first” language throughout existing statutes where there are references to individuals with disabilities.

 

Mr. Norton also indicated that guidance from the Governor’s Legal Counsel has been obtained, affirming the Agency’s position that no legal requirement exists for the Agency to collect a three percent health insurance increase from the BEP Managers, since these individuals are not state employees and do not fall under the terms of the SEBAC agreement.

 

Results of the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to seek other concessionaires at State Parks were reviewed. DEEP did receive one response, suggesting food trucks for various locations, including the locations where DORS operates concessions. DEEP did note that this plan could be easily implemented at parks in which DORS does not operate a concession; however at locations where DORS does have facilities, the statutes would need to be amended. 

 

Mr. Owens gave a summation of the RSA-15 figures for FFY 16.   Program-wide sales were $5.6 million. BEP Manager’s average income was $39,185. Program-wide, managers employed 80 individuals. Program spending increased by $564,314 with the opening of two new facilities.

 

The Committee was advised that the vending contractor has agreed to the implementation of a healthy vending initiative in all vending machines program-wide. The initiative will include clear signage of the healthy selections and each vending machine will offer 30 percent selections that meet healthy vending product criteria.

 

It was noted that going forward all agendas and minutes of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors meetings will be posted on the Secretary of State’s web site. Agendas must be posted at least one week in advance.

 

A question was asked if managers are receiving requests to use environmentally friendly containers. There have been some requests made by patrons at certain locations. BEP staff is looking into options. Initial research has shown that environmentally friendly containers have higher costs and are less secure in holding food. More research will be done.

 

It was noted that the current budget proposal calls for the closing of the 7 rest areas that are a part of the vending contract.

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts to adjourn.

Seconded by Marc Dombkowski

Vote: Yes – 6, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

Meeting adjourned at 5:35 p.m.

 

 


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Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors

Minutes of the February 8, 2017 – 4:00

Conference Call

 

 

Attendance: Committee:

Keith Haley             Marc Dombkowski Frank Roberts

Brandy Altergott     Jim Ferguson

 

Agency:

Ed Owens

                               

This meeting was called to review multiple site surveys. The Committee requested the review of all operations to be considered in one motion.

 

The first location was Minnechaug Golf Course in Glastonbury. This is a restaurant located on a 9 hole golf course in a residential section of Glastonbury. While the course is open April through December the town is looking to have the restaurant open year round.

 

The Fairfield locations were then reviewed. They include: Marine Fuel Dock Concession, Lake Mohegan, Jennings Beach and the Penfield Concessions.

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts to waive Minnechaug Golf Course, Fairfield Marine Fuel Dock Concession, Lake Mohegan, Jennings Beach and the Penfield Concessions.

Seconded by Marc Dombkowski

Vote: Yes – 5, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

The establishment of a Transfer and Promotion Sub-Committee was discussed. Chairman Haley will appoint the members who will review the applications received in January.

 

Keith advised of the opening on the State Rehabilitation Council and the potential for a BEP Manager who is an employer to serve on the Committee. He felt that while he would like to serve, his business needs would not permit him to. Marc Dombkowski offered to have his name submitted to serve.

 

The status of the park locations was discussed. Jim Ferguson stated that he not yet received his contract for the 2017 season. Ed stated that he had requested an update on the status and will follow up. All three park managers were on the call and they requested if we could take a look at their contracts and identify if we see any changes. Ed asked if they received their contracts in electronic format. They said that they did not. They only receive it in print. Ed stated that he will request that they also receive it in electronic format so it will be accessible and they could then share with us.

 

There was no further business to consider for this conference call

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts to adjourn.

Seconded by  Brandy Altergott

Vote: Yes – 5, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

 

Meeting adjourned at 5:00

 

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Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors

Minutes of the January 10, 2017 – 4:00

Conference Call

 

 

Attendance: Committee:

Keith Haley             Marc Dombkowski Zac Shaham

Frank Roberts        Brandy Altergott             Jim Ferguson

 

Agency:

Ed Owens

                               

This meeting was called to review two site surveys. The first was a request from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for seasonal food service at Burr Pond, Lake Waramaug and Mt. Tom State Park. The Committee reviewed the information and discussed that we had previously operated Lake Waramaug.

 

Motion made by Frank Roberts to waive the locations at Burr Pond, Lake Waramaug and Mt. Tom State Park.

Seconded by Brandy Altergott

Vote: Yes – 6, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

The second location was the Griffith E. Harris Golf Course in Greenwich. The Committee considered the location and transportation, the need for a liquor license, the availability of a manager and the start-up cost.

 

Motion made by Marc Dombkowski to waive the Griffith E. Harris Golf Course in Greenwich

Seconded by  Frank Roberts

Vote: Yes – 6, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

There was no further business to consider for this conference call

 

Motion made by Brandy Altergott to adjourn.

Seconded by  Frank Roberts

Vote: Yes – 6, No – 0, Abstained – 0

 

 

Meeting adjourned at 4:30

 

 




 

 





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