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The Duxbury Select Board has warned a special town meeting for August 15, 2012, at 7 p.m. at the Crossett Brook Middle School. The warning differs a little from the articles discussed at the select board meeting on July 9, 2012, and was approved by the select board at a special meeting held July 13, 2012.
Article 1 asks the voters to approve the town's share of a grant we received from the AOT to repair the Pollander Brook culvert that goes under Crossett Hill Road. The Structures Grant from the state is an 80 percent state-20 percent town allocation and the cost to the town would be approximately $26,000.
Article 2 asks the voters to approve the disbursement of $60,000 for repair of River Road; erosion of the ban is being caused by the Winooski River.
Article 3 asks the voters for funds to replace the town's pickup truck, the amount not to exceed $75,000. We are proposing purchase of either another three-quarter-ton pickup or a possible alternative of a one-and-a-half-ton truck.
Article 4 asks the voters to borrow funds not to exceed $250,000 over five years to stabilize the tax rate.
Article 1 is very straightforward. The culvert washed out in the two storms we had in 2011. Unfortunately, the damage was not severe or extensive enough that it prevented us from receiving FEMA mitigation funding that we were applying for. The engineering estimate for the project was initially $165,000. The bid and contingency figure we now have is approximately $130,000.
We had applied for a road grant from the AOT to repair River Road at the same time as the Pollander grant application. Unfortunately it was not approved. The area needing repair is on the bend on River Road where a waterfall is located. We received a permit from the state to do the work last year and have sought funding to cover the expense with no success. It is a repair we need to move on.
Article 3 addresses the 2004 pickup truck which has accumulated 140,000 miles and has serious structural issues such that we have taken the unit off of the road for safety reasons and are seeking replacement rather than expend more funds.
Under Article 4, the select board is proposing stabilizing the tax rate closer to the rate we had last year. The budget approved at Town Meeting in March set a $0.16 increase as a result of the two storms we dealt with last year. We have chosen to set the target a little high and believe that the amount to be financed will be significantly lower. Given the cost of borrowing at present with interest rates in the area of 1 percent we believe the cost to the town would very minimal.
A plan has been put forward by the town treasurer. This is an option that the select board discussed with the town's auditor on several occasions. This proposal does not take into consideration several variables that have and will impact the town's operation and fiscal planning.
At Town Meeting in March the voters approved use of up to $50,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund for repairs to our highway equipment and purchase of new equipment. To date we have accrued around $35,000 in repairs with several other items to be dealt with. Fortunately, through the efforts of Mo Lavanway, we were able to receive a significant rebate toward the purchase of the new lights for the garage. Additionally, the Emergency Management Committee secured a grant which replaced (five) vehicle radios and provides us with (two) handheld units for use in emergency situations.
Approval of Articles 1 and 2 will reduce our Capital Reserve budget by close to $100,000. We also confront the replacement of our pickup truck, depending on the choice of vehicle, with a cost of $35,000 to $65,000. This leaves two other issues which we need to address.
At Town Meeting in March, the select board agreed to return to a schedule of vehicle replacement that would put us back on an eight- to nine-year cycle. Our oldest vehicle is a 2000 and has required substantial upkeep. We asked that 2012 be a rebuilding year allowing us to determine what impact the storm expenses would have on our finances. We are committed to the purchase of a new truck for our fleet next year.
Along with all of this, we are still awaiting a determination as to Act 250's review of our gravel pit. With no idea at present to the scope of bringing the pit back into compliance with our original permit, we are waiting to answer both the timeframe and cost of this project and its impact on the town. What we have committed and are proposing to commit to is approximately $200,000 in expenditures from the Capital Reserve budget. We do not believe holding off this year's contribution is a wise choice.
We believe our proposed plan minimizes the impact on the town tax rate during these difficult economic times, is fiscally prudent and flexible allowing for earlier repayment if possible and provides a sound operating foundation as we move forward. As we approach the meeting in August, we should have a much better idea of where we stand with regard to storm reimbursements.
I would like to personally thank Maureen Harvey for her tireless effort(s) in putting all of our storm records and expenses into focus. I believe I speak for the select board in stating that we are committed to maintaining the operation of the town in a fiscally responsible manner.
Richard L. Charland is the chair of the Duxbury Select Board.