Selectboard continues 2021 budget work

The Town of Charlotte, VT

The bulk of a lengthy December 9 Selectboard meeting was devoted to hearing FY2021 budget requests from the town clerk, road commissioner, tree warden, and CVFRS and the Charlotte Historical Society.

Town Clerk and Treasurer Mary Mead cited an increase in revenue from recording fees and requested funds for a part time assistant clerk / treasurer.

Tree Warden Mark Dillenbeck requested a level-funded budget, as well as additional funds for green spading the Town Hall trees.

Road Commissioner Jr Lewis requested a level-funded operating budget, with the $20,000 ash tree removal costs currently in his budget shifted to the tree warden’s budget as a new line item. Lewis also recommended adding funds to the reserve highway fund for the Monkton road repair. “It’s a safety issue,” he said. Dubois and King presented their findings on the repair earlier in the evening. According to the engineers, the recommendation to remove and replace over 300 feet of roadway will incur a cost to the town, whether or not they obtain a VTrans grant. The board agreed with Lewis’s recommendation and added $30,000 to the reserve highway fund for the repair.

Later in the meeting Town Administrator Dean Bloch and Lewis discussed the flea market as a potential location for a new salt shed and maintenance garage.

CVFRS Board President Tom Cosinuke and Business Manager Patrice Machavern spoke to the board regarding their budget request, citing no changes from their previous presentation at the end of October. Machavern said the CVFRS board accepted the budget as presented and asked if they could “assume this is the budget we are going forward with for 2021.” Krasnow replied in the affirmative but added that, in the longer term, CVFRS was proposing two large purchases, one in 2022, the other in 2024, both of which would be funded, at least in part, by the capital reserve fund. He noted that if one of those purchases could be delayed a year it would help secure the solvency of that fund.

Dan Cole of the Charlotte Historical Society requested consideration of adding internet services to the building, as well as the purchase of a preservation environmental monitor to record heat and humidity. Information from the monitor would be collected and interpreted gratis by a consultant in the community. He also asked the board to consider a future investment in storm windows to protect the glass. “The place has been there since 1850 with no storm windows – it can wait a year a two.”

Town Administrator Dean Bloch presented the Selectboard budget to the board noting that the main changes were requests to conduct an update of pay rates, adding funds to the improvement and repair reserve fund for the Town Hall roof, the potential repair of the lighting bollards at Town Hall and repainting the fog lines in the west village. Bloch said a final version of the Selectboard budget will be discussed at the next meeting.

Solar RFP and the Charlotte library
John Quinney of the Energy Committee brought the board up to date on activities related to the net metering agreement and the proposed solar array on the Charlotte Library roof. Selectboard member Louise McCarren, noting the estimated annual energy cost savings of $750, said, “We’ve got to be doing this for other than the money.” She also raised concerns about possible future changes to net-metering rules and ownership of the system, “Rates can change. Technology can change.”

Selectboard member Fritz Tegatz agreed, citing his experience with installing a system on his barn roof. “Within less than nine years the rules have already changed once,” he said.

Other business
The Selectboard approved renewing a 20-year lease for lot 124 at 910 Flat Rock Road on Thompson’s Point. During Selectboard updates, the board approved change orders for the Charlotte library addition, including site work to finish removing the fuel tank, the purchase of entry doors and sidewalk removal. The change orders were briefed by Tegatz.

The board then went into executive session to discuss litigation related to Charlotte Solar, LLC, the company that owns the array on Hinesburg Road. In October, the company asked to amend its certificate of public good, including a reduction in a fund set aside for decommissioning, which the board declined.

The next Selectboard meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on December 16.