Recently, at a scheduled work session, the select board approved the Water and Sewer Fund budgets. Rates will be set at the June 23 board meeting. I am pleased to tell you all that there will be no increase in either water or sewer rates for fiscal year 2015.
At the June 9 board meeting, the public hearing required before the water bond vote was held. The vote was successful on June 17. The margin of victory was 150 votes out of just over 600 votes. This is an important project for the Town's water system. Thank you all for your support.
One of the agenda items postponed until June 23 due to the length of the public hearing is the Applegate to Willowbrook pathway project. The Bennington County Regional Commission is seeking town support for a VTRANS Bicycle and Pedestrian grant application to install this pathway. It will be lighted, safe, and allow the children of Applegate to walk to school and to safely access Northside Drive. A full presentation will be made at the next Board meeting.
Have you noticed the Bennington in Bloom plantings in the downtown? Placement of urns and hanging baskets were altered last year, first for a desired impact, and second, to accommodate the catamounts now prowling throughout Bennington. We maintained the same locations. New planting designs were incorporated this year. Bennington in Bloom is sponsored by the Town of Bennington and individual and corporate donations.
I should note that the fundraising for this year's July Fourth fireworks is underway. The town relies on donations to help present the show each Independence Day. This year a shortfall still exists. We are currently lacking approximately $1,000. With your help, once again, the fireworks should be special this year. If you wish to donate, please contact me.
We are approaching the end of fiscal year 2014. Overall, it appears that the town's budget is in good shape. The winter played a little havoc with the Highway Fund, but our year-end projections still have us in the black. All other funds look good. Looking forward to FY 2015, we hope to see the Benmont Avenue Bridge project go forward. Reserves are already in place for the local share. We also hope to conclude our reimbursement efforts with FEMA. This has been a long haul. I can tell you that the state and our congressional delegation have been very supportive. We believe we will be successful. We also plan to begin remediation work under the state's guidance at the former Kocher Drive landfill site, now lower Willow Park. Fencing and some surface remediation in spots will be completed this summer. Long-term monitoring will begin in the Fall. The Coleville Road bridge project will most likely go forward next Spring. We are attempting to secure additional grant funds to reduce the impact on taxpayer dollars and allow us to do more paving.
We have been working on a program to deal with the drug traffic in the community and to help those addicted find necessary help. There are many agencies and organizations developing plans. It is our hope that we can pull everyone together under one roof, so to speak, to focus our collective efforts.
Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 802-442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.
Stuart Hurd is Bennington's town manager. He writes a monthly column on town issues for the Banner.