Tax Rate Set, Better Back Roads Grant Accepted

by Doug McClure
photo by Doug McClure
The Wolcott Road Crew now has a new excavator

WOLCOTT – At the regularly scheduled August 19 meeting, Wolcott’s Select Board received a proposed tax rate from Town Clerk Belinda Clegg. The board was also given an update on the ongoing Fort Hill Bridge Project.

Lamoille District 2 candidate for state representative Kate Donnally introduced herself to the board. The road crew proposed a Better Back Roads grant for Morey Hill Road with a town match and informed the board it received the new excavator and plans to put the old machine up for sale.

Clegg said the grand list for this year was $153 million. From that figure, Clegg calculated the tax rate for Wolcott’s municipal tax at $0.8839.

“It’s a little bit of a hike,” she said. The rate is up from $0.7622 for FY20, an increase of 9.4%. Education taxes, which are set by the state, also increased. The FY20 homestead rate of $1.6060 increased 4% to $1.6757 for a combined tax rate of $2.5096.

For nonresidents, the education tax rate of $1.7045 is a 7% increase and the total tax for non-residents is $2.5384.

The town just held its tax sale, she said, and of the seven properties up for tax sale, two were redeemed, four sold, and the town bought one, a trailer, that the owner can buy back by paying their taxes within a year.

Nature Conservancy Senior Conservation Ecologist Paul Marangelo updated the board on the Fort Hill Bridge project. He said the pandemic had at first caused delays, but currently “we’re pretty much on schedule.” Construction is slated to begin around September 1.

After consulting with the Vermont State Historic Preservation Society, Marangelo said the bridge is “in such poor condition that it would be really tough” to salvage, so it will be scrapped and recycled instead.

Next, crews will remove the headwalls and clean up the site, which he said will hopefully reduce flooding and ice jams.

“There’s also a thought that ice forms up behind the abutment, so maybe that will reduce some of those problems,” Marangelo said.

He said the contractors have to be out of the river by mid-September and the job should be completed by sometime in mid-October.

Kate Donnally is running for the Lamoille-2 seat vacated by Rep. Matt Hill on the Vermont House of Representatives. She introduced herself to the board and said she recognized “how much our communities run on volunteer efforts.”

Board member Michael Davidson asked Donnally about broadband as a focus of her campaign. Donnally said she sat in on some of the early meetings of the Communications Union Districts.

The board approved a $20,000 Better Back Roads grant for Morey Hill Road. Five thousand dollars of the grant would be a town match. Part of the work will involve culvert replacement, with a projected completion date of sometime this year.

Road Foreman Dillan Cafferky said he did not see the timeline as problematic. Cafferky also mentioned that the excavator Wolcott is leasing has arrived and is in service. The town’s old excavator will be put up for sale. Cafferky said the new equipment has already “made a big difference” in the pace and efficiency of the road crew’s work.

The board briefly discussed an as-yet-unnamed applicant for the administrative assistant position. With only a week of ads run thus far, the board invited the sole candidate to speak with them at length about the position.

In other news, the board discussed amendments to the town hall rental form reflective of COVID-19 concerns. New guidelines will be added to the form. Board member Linda Martin met with Efficiency Vermont regarding the depot ahead of the library’s planned move, which may take place by October.