Hinesburg Selectboard continues budget discussion

By Sheri Duff

Hinesburg Selectboard members met with committee and department heads on Monday, Jan. 5 to discuss the proposed Fiscal Year 2016 town budget.

The Carpenter Carse Library was the first department to address the Selectboard. Representatives Sue Barden and Katherine Kjelleren presented the library budget noting that programs, books, and media budgets have increased. The library will open two more hours per week which will also increase salaries. The library’s board of trustees now includes a subcommittee to look at finances and handling of endowment funds. As there is no policy in place for the endowment fund, Selectboard member Andrea Morgante suggested one be developed for future use.

Agency Request Review Committee members Kate Dodge, Susan Marino, and Kathy Newton presented the committee’s budget requests. Of the 13 requests, down from 16 the previous year, the group recommended fully funding 11 agencies while only funding $200 of the $500 requested from The Red Cross, and $200 of the $300 requested from the Vermont Center for Independent Living.

Melissa Levy of the Economic Development Committee asked for $1,000 in funding. She reminded the panel that the committees’ report is on the town website and that once the committee delivers the plan they will get back to the task of looking at how the funds will be administered. Currently the committee is looking at ways to keep the money controlled locally. Morgante suggested talking with the Peck Estate to find out who manages those funds and how it works.

Hinesburg representative to the Lake Iroquois Recreation District Michelle Fischer again requested $600. The district is funded by permit fees and the contributions of the four district towns, Hinesburg, Richmond, St. George, and Williston. Williston has maintained the beach and road for years, being reimbursed only for materials, but they are not able to continue. A private contractor could be hired or the four towns could rotate the responsibility. Williston has agreed to take the responsibility the first year and track the costs. It is proposed that Hinesburg would be responsible for year two, Richmond year three, and St. George year four. Selectboard Chair Jon Trefry felt it may be more equitable for the towns to chip in and divide the expenses on a yearly basis. “One year could be expensive if it is a bad weather year,” Trefy added.

Fischer also informed that the district will increase the beach fees and plan to charge the homeowners who use that road an access fee for road maintenance. Selectboard member Tom Ayer agreed that residents using the road to access their property should contribute to its maintenance. Morgante feels that the beach is a great community asset and supports increasing each town’s contribution if necessary.

Finally, CCTA’s Executive Director Karen Walton, CCTA’s Meredith Birkett, and resident Karla Munson presented information on the bus route and the request for funding in the amount of $39,736.

Birkett reports that Hinesburg has the largest share of ridership, about 12 persons a day, while an average of 48-50 persons at all locations use the bus daily. Ayer questioned whether the costs outweigh the town benefits. “I’m having a hard time coming to grips with $40,000,” he said. Morgante responded that one of the benefits of increasing ridership is that it would reduce traffic congestion. “It’s a long-term change in behavior,” she commented.

FY16 budget

As the board reviewed the draft FY16 budget requests from all the departments, Trevor Lashua noted changes in his Town Administrator’s (TA) budget. The changes include moving assistant Renae Marshall to the TA office with a 90/10 salary split between his office and sewer and water department. Lashua’s time split will also change to 80/20 TA and sewer and water.

While reviewing the capital budget, the board questioned the need to purchase the fire truck at this time. Noting the high cost of health care, Ayer suggested an option he is aware of that uses an additional supplemental policy to cover high deductibles.

Other business

The town submitted its preliminary estimates to Vermont Emergency Management prior to the holiday break. Much of the $65,000 estimate is tied to hiring Teachers Tree Service (nearly 2/3 of the total estimate) to assist with tree damage.

The town hired Art Garrison to be its new water/wastewater operator effective Jan. 12. Garrison comes with experience in the municipal water/wastewater business, including a lengthy stint in Milton.

The latest scoping study for Hinesburg can be found in the Selectboard meeting packet online.

The board accepted the recommendation of bond lawyer, Paul Giuliani, and approved the revised Hinesburg repayment schedule amendment #3 for the Mountain View Mobile Home Park bond.

Lashua will draft a notice describing the water treatment bond by Feb. 1.

Moving forward Morgante felt it was important for the board to discuss the water and wastewater treatment policy. The board should know and understand the capacity of both water and stormwater, the policy for the allocation of water, and how it will affect development in town. Ayer concurred stating, “The new zoning regulations may have outpaced our infrastructure.”

The old police dept. building has been winterized but is not on the market yet.