Selectboard and state remember McCarren’s accomplishments

(This story has been corrected. It originally included an incorrect figure for how much more than was budgeted Charlotte has collected from interest on its bank accounts. The town has actually collected $94,000 in interest when it expected to collect $40,000 by this time in the fiscal year.)

On May 20, at the Charlotte Selectboard’s last regular Monday meeting of the month, a week before Memorial Day, the board paused to memorialize one of its own.

The board began its meeting by pausing to remember late selectboard member Louise McCarren, who died Feb. 16.

On May 4, the Legislature unanimously passed a resolution recognizing McCarren for her accomplishments in both the private and public spheres, at both the state and local level, and as a triathlete and paddler.

“She served on the boards of leading Vermont corporate and nonprofit organizations and, in recent years, was an active community volunteer in Charlotte, and she had returned to public service as a current member of the Charlotte Selectboard,” said the resolution, which was submitted by Charlotte representative Chea Waters Evans.

“If you take a look at her accomplishments, it’s really quite remarkable,” chair Jim Faulkner said.

Budget update
One of the first things on the meeting’s agenda was a review of where the town budget was for the year-to-date with town clerk and treasurer Mary Mead.

On the plus side, Mead said that the delinquent tax list was low so far this year and that Thompson Point rent was coming in on schedule.

However, Mead said, revenues that were budgeted to come from her office were below expectations, at about 68 percent for recording fees, which is the lion’s share of the budget her office brings in. This is a result of the housing market.

“People are not running to the bank to refinance and there’s not a lot of sales going on,” Mead said. “That is probably also part of the reason for the planning and zoning revenue budget, which is even lower at 46 percent.”

A winner on the revenue side is the senior center, which had been budgeted for revenues of $37,000 and actually brought in almost $46,000. This should go up even more with another month’s worth of program revenue to come in.

Recreation programs have also beaten their projections so far this year, bringing in just over $70,000 when revenue was budgeted at $61,000. Although beach revenue is just 40 percent of what it is supposed to bring in, Mead was confident that this would be made up during May and June when people become excited to buy town beach passes.

The interest the town has made on its bank accounts is also up, having budgeted to get $40,000 but so far having gotten more than $94,000.

Another unexpected revenue is a $10,000 Efficiency Vermont grant that wasn’t included in the budget for the solar panels on the town garage, but she said she doesn’t have a good picture yet of what the town will save in energy costs going forward.

“All in all, I think that we’re in good shape with revenues and they will most likely come in higher than what we budgeted for them,” Mead said.

Employee benefits “is right on target,” she said.

Health insurance was budgeted for $213,000, and so far, the town has paid just under $178,000, but there are still other insurance costs to come with another month to go.

With the fiscal year winding down, other areas of the budget where expenses are looking good in relation to what was budgeted include recreation, the library and the town hall.

“The senior center is quite good. They’re only at 71 percent,” Mead said, citing as an example how low maintenance costs for the year were so far, with $8,000 budgeted for the center, while only spending $2,900.”

“I don’t know what that’s about but it’s good,” she said. Costs are also down because the senior center has just recently hired a volunteer coordinator after having gone with that position unfilled for a good while.

“I think it’s probably important that I point out, since I had asked the senior center to bring in more revenue, that they did, so thank you senior center,” board member Kelly Devine said.

Mead said that it seems like, if things continue as they have so far this year, the town will end up adding to its fund balance.

Tree planting
The selectboard again was discussing tree planting and the process by which that should happen, but it was not so controversial a conversation as of late.

Before appointing a tree warden to replace Mark Dillenbeck, who resigned recently, the selectboard approved, by a unanimous vote of the four board members who were present, an updated tree-planting application to be used by future tree wardens and landowners.

Former selectboard member Matt Krasnow was the only remaining applicant to be tree warden. There was another applicant who withdrew his bid for the position before the selectboard meeting after reading Krasnow’s letter announcing his interest.

Krasnow said he began his career working for Landshapes, a landscaping design and installation company. During this time the company started its own nursery, so he was involved with working with bare-root trees brought in every day.

“I learned a lot working in the dirt, how to take care of trees right from the get go and also the joy of working with them,” Krasnow said.

In response to questions about working on the process for determining where and how trees are planted by the town, Krasnow said, “The most important thing is that we have a viable process that’s open to the public and accessible to the public and will kind of stand the test of time. That’s my goal.”

He was approved as tree warden by a 4-0 vote.