ALL ABOUT TOWN: Water bond vote, part II
Congratulations to Bakkerij Krijnen. This local business has been recognized as a 2014 Editor’s Choice winner in Yankee Magazine’s Best of New England.
Congratulations and welcome to LaFlamme’s Furniture. Chris and Angela have decided to acquire, renovate, and reopen in the former Alcaro Motors building in Bennington’s downtown. This should be a great addition to downtown.
The Select Board has voted to warn a second bond vote for the water system improvements project last considered in March. The project has been redesigned to reduce the cost by $300,000 to a $3 million project. The engineer has found a more direct, but slightly more complex, route for the water mains to service the water tank from the pump station. As many of you know, this project is mandated by the state to address water pressure and fire flow concerns in higher elevations in the southerly part of the water system.
The current system is made up of a number of pressure zones. The current configuration can not provide the mandated water pressure and necessary fire protection to the affected neighborhoods. There is no way to do minor modifications and solve this problem. A new pressure zone must be created.
This project is the most cost-effective way to do that. We have an opportunity to save an additional $500,000 by moving forward now. The additional savings arises from allowing Southern Vermont College to tie into the town’s system at its expense, a connection strongly supported by the state. Opponents have raised concerns about the long-term impact on water rates. It now appears, after a diligent review of upcoming capital projects, that we can minimize that impact.
Looking at the FY2015 budget just presented to the board, it is a budget with no increase in the rates. Looking into the future, we forecast that capital expenses will decline allowing the depreciation cost to increase to match the current projects without an increase in the budget.
In 2018, when the bond payments begin, we foresee adding those to the budget with little impact on rates, using available reserves if necessary. We plan to illustrate this at the public hearing, now scheduled for June 9. The vote will follow on June 17. We originally planned to hold the second vote in September; however, that falls between the Primary and General elections adding an additional burden to the Town Clerk’s Office’s already busy schedule.
On May 12, the Select Board voted to support a housing grant application for Shires Housing. In the presentation, John Broderick indicated that the development, if built as proposed, would pay $24,000 in taxes. Actually, it will pay a minimum in the range of $64,800 in taxes. Mr. Broderick was referring to town taxes only. The project pays at least 90 percent of the levied school taxes as well.
My comments to the Select Board about the new opportunity for donated land at 336 Main St. for a public park described it as a "quiet, restive place." I meant "restful." Michael Keane reminded me that "restive" means uneasy, agitated, just the opposite of what I was trying to portray.
The Select Board continues its efforts to fill slots on boards and commissions. We have available two Lister positions and two Housing Authority positions. If you are interested, please contact my office for details. 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.
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