"We are not over budget at this time," explained cemetery commissioner Forrest Hicks, "The reason we would go over budget (is) that we had an over-aggressive goal; we started a lot of stones and underestimated the amount of cement required for the foundations."
The original estimate for the restoration project was $4,000 - $4,500, but nine pallets of cement have already been used, and the number of headstones needing new foundations has grown. Hicks estimated that South Hill Cemetery would need another year of work due to the "ancient" condition of many stones, most dating back to the early 19th century. Over 100 foundations are still in need of repair. "We got in a little deeper than we anticipated," Hicks told the board, "(but) once you’re into it, you can just leave it, or you can continue what you’re doing." For the last four years the town has given $5,000 annually to the cemetery commission for the restoration effort.
"The work that's going on up there merits any money they need," chimed in resident Rodney Salamone. "That cemetery especially, it was a mess up there. I think it’s money well spent."
As the agenda shifted to taxes, selectboard member Teddy Hopkins made a motion to adjust the town's local share and municipal rate for the year. The local share, which covers tax exempt properties such as the South Readsboro Community Center, also covers a portion of property tax for disabled veterans. Noting that a resident is using the partial exemption, Hopkins bumped the local share up to 0.0079, while the municipal rate was raised to 0.8875. Hopkins explained this as "a slight fractional difference to cover $115 of municipal tax."
Policy language and employment took up a good portion of Wednesday night's meeting, as town administrator Mark Shea looked to clarify job descriptions, job experience requirements, employment policy statements, and standards. The board approved new language requiring wastewater technician applicants to have or acquire their CDL within a six-month period after being hired.
Job descriptions for selectboard clerk and utility clerk were also changed, to clarify state and federal law requirements for the positions. "This is a lot of information this board has had to digest in its accumulation of statutes,” Shea explained, "Federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act; you see job descriptions maybe as new as five or six years ago, and they don't include these (statutes) in their job descriptions, and they open themselves up to a lot of risk." Shea believes better job descriptions lead to a better vision for towns and their employees.
The selectboard also engaged in a preliminary discussion concerning the Vermont byways system. The "Scenic Route 100 Byway" currently runs from Andover to Pittsfield, however, plans to extend the byway continue to creep south and west. Vermont Route 100 runs directly through town, and is also known as the 43rd Infantry Division Memorial Highway.
Shea expressed enthusiasm for the idea, citing positive feedback from other towns, the development of regional marketing strategies, and promotion of Readsboro as a scenic destination. Board members Ray Eilers and Teddy Hopkins expressed reservations.
Eilers, who admitted he was "a tad skeptical," wondered what type of financial and maintenance stipulations the federal route recognition would bring. Hopkins cited the need for a mission statement before consideration.
The board added the discussion to next week's agenda so an official dialogue can begin.