Select Board Sets FY24 Budget
by Gazette Staff
WOLCOTT – At its January 18 regular meeting, the Wolcott Select Board discussed topics including the Schoolhouse Revitalization project, next year’s town budget, and live-streaming town meeting.
Salvador Morales, planner with Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC), updated the board on recent activities on behalf of the Schoolhouse Revitalization Committee. The committee has been working on what will be required to rehabilitate the building. A request for proposal (RFP) was sent out seeking an architect to conduct a feasibility study on the condition of the building, conceptual designs, and preliminary costs. Three architectural firms replied and a site walk was conducted. SHKS, of Burlington, was selected as the contractor. Morales reviewed with the board a four-step proposal. The $10,000 of approved funds will cover step one. Steps two through four would require an additional $9,000, for which ARPA funds could be used. The board agreed to go forward with step one. The decision to go forward with the remaining steps can be made after step one is completed about mid-March. The same architectural firm can be used without having to go through the RFP process again. The architect with SHKS will be invited to attend the March 15 select board meeting.
Morales stated that a municipal planning grant is under review. That grant would be for a site utility study addressing exterior issues at the old Schoolhouse. Morales noted that receiving these grants makes the town more competitive when applying for future grants covering other parts of the project.
Board Chair Linda Martin reported that she has been working on the equipment purchase spreadsheet, computing payments and appropriations to develop a long-term plan.
Martin reported that she was informed that the Vermont Department of Corrections is closing the shop that produced road and 911 signs. Signs for the town-wide 911 sign project will have to be ordered elsewhere. Martin is waiting to see what vendor the State of Vermont will now use for signs.
On the topic of next year’s budget, it was reported that the fund balance has been determined and the budget can now be finalized. The overall budget amount is $1,708,300, which would represent an increase of 3.06% to taxpayers. Board vice chair Kurt Klein stated that in this environment and considering inflation, such an increase seems pretty reasonable.
The transfer station budget is tight; income is close to expenses. Appropriations requests are the same as last year. The highway department budget is up 12% but the general budget is down 4%.
The road crew will put up signs on either side of the bridge on Gulf Road. The signs will indicate a one-lane bridge ahead and to go slow.
The board discussed Article 4 as it appears in the warning. Town voters will be asked if they wish to allow the select board to negotiate the purchase of the 0.34 acre parcel on Rte. 15 owned by Champlain Oil Company. The town is currently awaiting the results of a brownfield study. LCPC is working on that with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
It was noted that there are two positions open for library trustee. One is for a five-year term, and another is to complete a three-year term that is vacant.
Dolan Patrick offered to live-stream and record the town meeting. Following discussion, the board agreed to allow the meeting to be live-streamed and recorded for later viewing. Although it will be live-streamed, town meeting will not be interactive, meaning only those physically present can speak or vote. Board members will give thought to what else they would like to see during town meeting. Further discussion will take place at the February 1 meeting.
Treasurer Belinda Clegg stated that nine Wolcott parcels are scheduled for tax sale on February 7. An individual needs to be appointed to represent the town at the sale. Usually that person is the treasurer. The board voted to appoint Clegg to represent the town at the upcoming tax sale.