SHAFTSBURY >> At their first of two February meetings before Town Meeting Day, Selectboard members discussed in more depth some of the articles that will appear on the ballot on March 1.
"Our continuing philosophy on the budget is to, as we come out from under this debt service that we accrued when a bunch of equipment broke a few years ago, put a big chunk of that money into reserves so that in the future we won't incur debt as we regularly replace big pieces of highway equipment, and taking the bulk of what remains and putting it into material for the roads," said Chairman Tim Scoggins, who said the goal is to have all the roads in good enough shape to get through mud season without incident.
Scoggins also explained some of the reasoning for this year's ballot articles, starting with the purchase of property on North Road. "There were two residences right next to the landfill, right by the entrance. When one of them became available for purchase last year, we purchased it to consolidate those grandfathered residences into our industrial land, and to add a buffer around the landfill of industrial water use." The ballot article asks the voters to approve $30,000 for the purchase of that .23 acre property.
Scoggins also spoke about the decision to put a non-binding article asking if town-owned property adjacent to the landfill site is an acceptable location for a new town garage. "This Selectboard believes strongly and unanimously that the answer to that question is yes," he said, "and we had been proceeding in that direction, toward another garage bond vote, but we started to hear a lot of rumblings about citizens that are concerned about that site, for a number of reasons."
"It was worth getting the pulse of the people on this," he continued, "before we put another bond vote up, have it potentially go down again, and again find ourselves having to guess, was it because it was too expensive or was it because of the location?" He said the board is asking the people of Shaftsbury to vote on whether or not that site is acceptable to them, not on any other concerns about the garage. The board has stated that it hopes to have a proposal on a garage bond ready for the November election.
"This is town-owned land," said Vice-Chairman Mitch Race, "If we can't put it there, chances are we'll end up purchasing land, at a premium, most likely."
The Shaftsbury Select Board meets the first and third Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Cole Hall on Buck Hill Road in Shaftsbury. Full recordings of their meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.