by Gazette Staff
WOLCOTT – At its October 18 meeting, the Wolcott Select Board’s agenda included an update on budget requests, flood mitigation planning on Flat Iron Road, and applying for a loan to pay for flood damage repair.
It was noted that Tammy Westover informed the board that she has applied to the state for a buyout of her house and property on School Street. Board chair Linda Martin said she will assist in this endeavor.
The Cemetery Commission submitted a written budget request seeking an increase over last year’s budget due to the anticipated increase in mowing expenses. They are in the last year of their multi-year mowing contract. Mowing bids will be sought later, which will then determine the actual cost. The Litter Committee’s request was for the same amount as last year.
The board discussed engineering ideas to mitigate flooding along Flat Iron Road. Jessica Louisos, senior water resources engineer with SLR Consulting, and Doug Osborne, associate water resources engineer with SLR, presented the results of the Flat Iron Road Flood Mitigation Analysis. The board was provided with six alternatives for consideration. Alex Jones, with the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC), explained that LCPC would pursue grants to cover the design phase and planning of whichever alternative the board chooses. Martin noted that an engineer associated with FEMA is already designing the reconstruction of Flat Iron Road. After discussion, the board requested that LCPC pursue grant funding to address the feasibility of removing the old railroad bridge and material from the river, and lowering the floodplain.
Kurt Klein reported that his focus has been on FEMA and Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) insurance claims. Coverage on the fire station and town garage building was reviewed, as well as contents of the town garage and town hall. Martin has been working with the fire chief in applying for FEMA reimbursement.
After discussion, the board then voted to elect Michael Paradee as its vice chair.
There was a discussion about applying for a flood loan. The town has incurred unanticipated costs of up to two million dollars to repair flood damage. Town Treasurer Belinda Harris Clegg spoke with a representative of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding a loan of up to two million dollars. The maximum amount that could be borrowed would be based upon FEMA’s estimated damage costs. The interest rate would be 2.375 percent, starting when the loan is awarded. The application deadline for the SBA loan was October 31. Union Bank offers a fixed rate of 4.75 on a one-million-dollar loan. With Union Bank, funds would not need to be borrowed until needed for projects, which would probably start in the spring. Options were discussed. The SBA loan can be applied for, but would not have to be accepted. The board voted to authorize the treasurer to apply for a loan with SBA for up to $1.5 million, or the maximum FEMA will allow. The board also agreed to accept the VLCT offer to advance the town $50,000.
Martin reported that she had received notice that Wolcott has been preapproved to receive free assistance through the Vermont Municipal Technical Assistance Program. Assistance is offered by the state through the Regional Planning Commissions. The idea is to provide technical assistance to towns to help advance eligible projects. After discussion, the board voted to register for the Municipal Technical Assistance Program.
No bids were received to do repair work on the town garage and fire station building to address a mold issue following the flood. The board discussed options. VLCT does not provide coverage for mold issues. It is unknown whether FEMA will reimburse expenses incurred for work done on a time and material basis, rather than a bid review. The board will try to find a contractor to do the work. The work needs to be completed as soon as possible so the road crew can prepare its equipment for winter.
The town enters into a preventative maintenance agreement for the generator at town office. The board discussed options and agreed on a contract that includes one service call per year at a cost of $426, if paid prior to November 1.
The new heating system is scheduled for installation on November 7. In the meantime, Lloyd’s is providing space heaters. Additional electrical outlets should be installed. The new water heater was installed last week.