Hinesburg Selectboard juggles costs, upkeep

By MADELINE HUGHES

The Hinesburg Selectboard met Monday night for its third meeting this month to discuss the budget and capital improvement plan. Board members hashed out the details line by line, fine tuning the budget for approval at the next meeting Jan. 28.

“The board is trying to prioritize taking care of what we have and planning more to incrementally save for future needs,” Town Administrator Renae Marshall said.

This year, town departments were asked to keep their budget growth to a minimum. With no growth expected to the town’s Grand List, any increase will translate to a larger tax rate.

As of Monday night, the total proposed expenditures for FY20 is at $3,957,950. This is a 2.67 percent increase from the current year. The estimated tax rate is 0.5326 per $100 of assessed value, which is $532 per every $100,000 of assessed property value.

“We keep stretching a small budget, and we do an amazing amount with it,” Marshall said.

In considering the capital improvement plan, the Selectboard reviewed a request from the Highway Department to purchase a screen plant, which is a piece of equipment used to sift construction aggregate. The department currently contracts to bring in a screen plant every summer to do that work.

Highway Foreman Michael Anthony suggested the purchase to help the department with time management. A used screen plant costs about $70,000. The Selectboard initially opted to break that payment into two parts, allocating $35,000 from this year’s budget for it.

However, on Monday while fine tuning the budget, the board decided to push that purchase off by a year, removing the $35,000 item from this year’s budget, moving it on the capital plan to next year.

The Selectboard also has some questions to put directly to the voters at Town Meeting. One involves spending an estimated $50,000 for work at the intersection of Charlotte Road and Vermont Route 116, which would be added to the general budget.

The dollar amount is not yet certain, and the board hedged against adding the estimate to the budget. Instead, Board Chair Phil Pouech is working on developing the proposal into an individual article for the Town Meeting Day ballot.

It’s possible that Hannaford Brothers Co. could potentially pay for these changes to the intersection as directed in a Development Review Board decision, which is pending court approval. However, even if that was decided,  it could still take years for the company to complete that project.

The Selectboard will finalize the budget and special articles at Monday’s meeting.

Other news

  • Jonathan Slason was appointed to the Development Review Board as a full member. He was previously an alternate. The board has two remaining vacancies.
  • Marshall reported to the board that town officials are working with Champlain Valley School District to make the calls on the “hill roads” for snow days. School officials were alerted some roads were not plowed on a recent snowy morning, but Marshall said the highway department’s records showed that the roads had been plowed, but it had continued snowing. Ultimately school district officials decide whether to cancel or delay school due to weather and road conditions, she said.
  • The Selectboard is moving forward with creating a committee to fill the police chief position after Chief Frank Koss recently announced his retirement.

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