The January 14 Selectboard meeting opened and adjourned early, with the Charlotte Library addition and FY20 budget among the agenda items. First, however, during public comment portion of the meeting, Chair Lane Morrison was recognized for his contributions to the board. Bill Stuono said, “Thanks for your years of service to the board. A lot of good things have happened during your tenure here. You are attentive, knowledgeable, run a good meeting, and we will miss you.”
Approximately 25 attendees were at the meeting to hear updates on the library addition and FY20 budget. Jonathan Silverman, chair of the Charlotte Library Board of Trustees, read from a prepared handout. The “Charlotte Library Expansion Project Information” handout outlined key visitor and library program metrics as well as a timeline of activities. Selectboard Chair Morrison asked for an update on the board’s fundraising for the project, to which Nan Mason, the board treasurer, replied, “We have raised $350,000, halfway to our goal of $700,000. Since the last meeting, we got a couple of substantial donations.”
Questions from the Selectboard ranged from plans to raise the remaining $350,000 and plans if fundraising falls short. Both Mr. Silverman and Ms. Mason replied that the library board is still in the quiet phase of its fundraising and have time but, if necessary, would consider adjusting the expansion plan. The Selectboard also noted that a sketch plan review would have to be conducted by the Planning Commission, and Mr. Tegatz volunteered to be the point of contact for the process. The Selectboard then passed Article 8 of the draft warning for Town Meeting, to wit: Shall bonds of the Town of Charlotte in an amount not to exceed $700,000 be issued to finance the construction of an addition to the Charlotte Library?
The FY20 budget was next on the agenda and started off with a discussion about reinstating the Energy Committee budget. John Quinney, the treasurer of the Energy Committee, represented the group and requested the reinstatement, noting that the committee would increase communications to the Selectboard about proposed energy audits to town buildings and an upcoming weatherizing campaign. The Selectboard voted to restore the Energy Committee budget to $4,500 for FY20.
Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services was well represented during the FY20 budget discussion. Mr. Morrison, noting a large group of Fire and Rescue personnel standing at the back of the room, commented “We have all of Fire and Rescue in full force. You are here to make sure the budget goes as you desire.” He paraphrased concerns raised at the previous budget meeting, which were addressed, and no further comments were made. The Selectboard motioned and passed Article 7 of the draft warning for Town Meeting, asking whether the Town shall issue bonds for the purchase of a new ambulance.
As additional budget line items were discussed, including legal expenses for both the Selectboard and Planning and Zoning, Town Administrator Dean Bloch made real-time changes to the budget, with these results: total expenses of $3,264,779, with $1,881,785 raised by taxes and $1,382,994 raised by nontax revenue (for example, zoning permit applications fees, highway grants, Senior Center fees).
This represents an increase of one-third of a cent on the 2019 municipal tax rate, which translates into an increase from $397 this year to $405 next year per $200,000 of assessed valuation.
The Selectboard then passed Article 3 of the draft warning for town meeting, asking the town to approve the Selectboard budget for FY20, and finally passed the full draft warning for the annual town meeting. The warning will be available on the town website, charlottevt.org, later this week.
In other business, the Selectboard approved Duncan Murdoch to continue his forest bathing walks in the Charlotte Wildlife Refuge. This year he is planning to coordinate with ParkRx, a “movement to integrate nature connection into integrative health care,” according to Mr. Murdoch. The board also approved StageWorks to provide sound and lighting for the night before and on Town Meeting Day and Teachers Tree Service to cut branches over the town museums and clean gutters. Finally the board offered employment to Rita Pozirekides as minutes-taker for Selectboard, Planning Commission and Zoning Board meetings; she will be a contract employee with a start date of around February 1.