SHAFTSBURY -- Almost seven months after the proposal for a new town garage and salt shed was defeated by town voters by an almost 2-1 margin, the Town Garage Committee is preparing to submit a new plan to voters that is expected to be more palatable.
The new plan, which is still in the early stages, is estimated to be 30 percent less expensive than the original plan, saving Shaftsbury taxpayers around $500,000 over the next 20 years.
The garage committee took into consideration the plans of many other towns in both Vermont and New York that recently built similar facilities. According to a special report that was included in the town's September newsletter, these efforts "helped develop new conceptual ideas, as well as additional areas where money could be saved."
The committee eventually decided on a new facility in Swanton as a less costly model to base its own design on. Basing the new design on an existing design could save the town around $15,000 -- the cost of having an engineer draw plans up from scratch.
"It fits our needs, and fits the site perfectly," said John Endres, a member of the Garage Committee. The new garage would be constructed on North Road, next to the town's current transfer station.
Karen Mellinger, who serves as the vice-chairperson of the Shaftsbury Select Board, as well as on the Town Garage Committee, said that, while "the majority of town really believes that we need a new garage," the $1.5 million price tag of the initial proposal caused many voters to balk.
As far back as 2003
According to Mellinger, at that point, the goal of the committee was clear: "What is it that we can take out of this project [in terms of cost], and still get what we need?" The new proposal will cost voters about $18.47/year for the next 20 years, based on $100,000 appraised home value, a savings of $9 from the initial proposal.
The proposal for a new town garage was brought up as far back as 2003, but first came to vote in March of this year. Since then, the Garage Committee has approached the project in a "very dollar-driven manner" according to Mellinger. In order to get the projected cost of the project below $1 million, the area of the planned building was reduced from 8,500 square feet to 8,000 square feet. Removed from the original design were a mechanical bay that would have been used for repairing town vehicles, as well as office and meeting space designed to take pressure off of Cole Hall, which currently serves as the meeting place for most town committees.
Getting the garage plan approved will be a major step moving forward for the town, committee members said.
"Interest rates are going up every year we delay; it is going to get more expensive," said Rick Kobik, of Blue Heron Construction Corp., who serves on the committee. The committee estimates that even since March, when the initial plan was proposed to voters, interest rates have raised almost 1 percent.
Before the next proposed vote, which is anticipated for Dec. 3, the Garage Committee will start an informational campaign for town residents, slated for the beginning of November, which will include tours of the site and informational meetings.
The committee, which will next meet on Oct. 9, is made up of Mellinger, Endres, Kobik, Ken Harrington of the Select Board, Tim Scoggins of the School Committee, who is one of the candidates for the Select Board position vacated by Craig Bruder, Barry Mayer, Ron Schoof, Terry Stacy, Ron Jennings, Michael Gardner, and Harold Baldwin.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB.