Susan Crockenberg, Contributor
As is typical when the Selectboard entertains budgets requests from town commissions and departments, the meeting on December 18, 2017, was chock full of agenda items. It began at 6 p.m. with an informational meeting with the Charlotte Library expansion committee on a proposed library expansion. A feasibility study will be undertaken in January to assess community support of the project and whether funding can be raised privately or if a bond is needed. If the response is positive, expansion plans will go forward with a goal of building in the spring of 2019.
In addition to outlining the Recreation Commission’s FY2018/2019 proposed budget, Chairman Bill Fraser-Harris and Director Nicole Conley recommended creating a Recreation Capital Projects Fund to cover facility improvements: replacing or upgrading the tennis courts, expanding the northeast section of the beach parking lot, upgrading the beach playground and constructing a bocce sand court. Deb Stone is working on cost estimates for the playground design. Matt Krasnow proposed bonding $140,000 for 20 years to cover the improvement costs, to be discussed at the next meeting. The Recreation Commission is also looking for other ways to raise funds. One idea is to hold fee-paying events at the recreation facilities. Another is to charge event sponsors fees for the time the commission puts into signing forms and presenting at Selectboard meetings. Mary Mead indicated that donations to the Recreation Commission are tax deductible.
Dean Bloch reviewed a draft Selectboard FY2018/2019 budget that included $45,000 for legal expenses; research costs for installing signage at North Shore Road/Thompson’s Point Road that dog owners carry out dog-waste bags or providing a year-round receptacle on site; adding $5,000 to the Improvement and Repair Fund for standing-seam metal roofing on Town Hall and $40,000 for generators for the Senior Center and Town Hall emergency shelters; and the town appropriation for the CVFRS operating budget increase. At the 6 p.m. January 8 Selectboard meeting Mary Mead will update the draft FY2018/2019 town budget as the basis for what will likely be a lively budget discussion.
In other town business, the Selectboard voted unanimously to extend eligibility for health benefits to town employees on Medicare, with costs covered in the same proportion as other full or part-time town employees. As the town cannot pay for Medicare directly, employees on Medicare will be reimbursed. Selectboard members also spoke in favor of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission conducting studies of parking lots in the East and West villages. And in another unanimous action, the board appointed Dean Bloch as deputy health director.
The Planning Commission is revising the Town Plan based on comments received at and since the December 11 Selectboard meeting and will complete a draft by January 8. In hopes that this will be the final revision, the Selectboard warned a second public meeting on the Town Plan to be held on Monday, January 22. At that time the board will determine if the Town Plan will be warned as an article for Town Meeting in March and voted on by Australian ballot in April 2018.