Town officials talk budgets and spending
by Mike Eldred
Dec 27, 2012 | 1734 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILMINGTON- Budget issues dominated discussions at last week’s selectboard meeting.

Library treasurer Louis Clark presented the Pettee Memorial Library’s 2014 budget request, which included a request to create a capital fund for a roof repair. “The roof is in need of repair now,” Clark said, responding to a question from the board.

“You were looking for a capital contribution, and start saving to pay off the roof repair you need?” asked town manager Scott Murphy.

Murphy suggested a faster and less expensive way the library might repair the roof. “Put out an RFP and get some estimates to repair it now, and use the money in the library endowment fund to pay for that, and the town can put that money back into the endowment fund over the next couple of years. That would save the debt service cost.”

Board member Susan Haughwout asked if a capital expenditure was allowed from the endowment fund. Clark said such an expenditure would be allowed, but different bequests had been used for certain expenditures over the years. “One is a general endowment of $104,000 and that’s totally unrestricted. Then there’s a Janet Pool bequest of $25,000, and a Nancy Willard bequest of $13,000 which, although there’s no restrictions, has been used for community service grants and scholarships.”

Haughwout said repairing and maintaining the building was a priority for the town. “The architecture is beautiful, and maintaining it is part of keeping the building sound and the collection safe.”

“I do think it’s a legitimate use of the endowment funds,” Clark said.

“Except that it’s the town’s responsibility to keep the library building in good repair,” noted board member Meg Streeter. “I don’t think the trustees have thought that any of the money given to the library would be used for the building.”

“But we could borrow from the endowment and pay it back,” suggested board member Diane Chapman.

Clark agreed. “I’d like that to be a formal document that specifies an annual contribution,” he said.

Board members agreed, and voted to give Murphy and Clark the go-ahead to work out an agreement, pending approval from library trustees.

In other budget discussions, board members were at a loss to define how much they should contribute to a joint Dover/Wilmington education funding lobbying effort in Montpelier. Dover funded the first year of the effort, after Tropical Storm Irene left Wilmington with a number of budget demands. Earlier this year, Wilmington agreed to make a $5,000 contribution to the effort, and to consider more funding for the next fiscal year. The total cost for the work of the lobbyist firm KSE Partners is $50,000.

“I can tell you Ann (Manwaring) and I share an interest in being able to support this in some way,” said Haughwout. “I wonder if we should get some kind of read from Dover to see if they have some kind of expectation, or if we should just choose a number.”

Streeter questioned whether the funding should be included as an article on the warning, or if it should be included as a line item in the budget.

Board members agreed to seek more information from the Dover Selectboard.

In other matters, Murphy said the town’s application for the state’s designated downtown program was nearing completion, thanks to the work of Gretchen Havreluk. Havreluk is working for the town two days per week as an economic and community development consultant. In addition to downtown designation, Havreluk is also working on hazard mitigation buyouts and Bitown Economic Development Committee work.

“Much progress has been made on the downtown designation application,” Murphy said, “and Gretchen has formed a small work committee to get the application through the process.”

Murphy said the application should be ready “before the end of February” and should be approved by spring.

After an executive session, Murphy announced that the town had been awarded a Municipal Park and Ride Grant from the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Wilmington will receive, $41,300, the full amount of their application. The grant will be used for improvements at the municipal parking lot on South Main Street.

In other transportation news, the town has also announced that construction of the Haynes Road bridge has been completed and is now open to traffic. “This was the town of Wilmington’s last repair work to be done after Irene,” said Murphy. “Although it took 16 months, at long last the bridge is open.”

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