John Hammer, Contributor
The Selectboard meeting of November 27 was one in which financial items dominated the agenda. Of major significance was a report by the town’s independent auditor, Rick Brigham of Sullivan, Powers & Co. The review of the town’s FY17 financial statements and Management Discussion and Analysis was approved. His words spoke for themselves when he pronounced that it constituted an “unqualified clean opinion. You can’t get any better.” He commended both the town management and Selectboard for their “cooperation and progressive action.”
In keeping with the seasonal reviews by the Selectboard in preparation for the FY 18-19 budget, they received presentations from the Library and the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services (CVFRS). First came the Library, which sailed right through.
Margaret Woodruff, the Library Director, presented a budget estimate that came in with a modest increase of a little over 4%. This represented some minor increases in staffing hours. These were counter-balanced by a 50% decrease in energy costs based on this year’s lower actual costs.
Members of the CVFRS, however, did not have such an easy time. Their budget estimate increase came in at something over 9.4%. In the beginning, Lane Morrison, Selectboard Chair, put it this way,” We’ve been satisfied, in fact more than satisfied, for the service because …there’s been tremendous support for what you guys do… and to date the budgets have been approved.” However, he and others felt that the option presented, in which the costs rose with no additional service for such an increase, might soon meet resistance from the taxpayers.
Tom Cosinuke, the Corporate President of the CVFRS Corporate Board, pointed out that the paramedic and EMT services were ever costlier and a major part of the increase. It becomes a major question of what expectations the townsfolk have for the services they expect. There was a consensus that this question needs to be discussed and surveyed at the forthcoming March Town Meeting. Cosinuke pointed out that the CVFRS Board had taken a very hard look at each budget line item, even changing the health benefit insurance provider, and there was no place to cut. Robert Mack, from the audience, raised his three-year-old demand for a “unified budget” in which all the revenue and expense streams are explicitly presented to the public on a regular basis. This demand was left unanswered at this meeting.
Other matters included the appointment of Shawn Coyle to the Planning Commission; an agreement to contract with Robert Booher to clean the Town Hall for $375 a month; renewal for a 20-year lease for Thompson’s Point Lot 46 at 496 Flat Rock Road to Thomas D. Trainer; and authorization for the drilling of a well at Thompson’s Point Lot 134 at 351 Lane’s Lane, subject to confirmation of isolation distances from adjacent septic systems.
In one further action, the board extended the warranty for the current computer server in the Town Hall.