Town Manager’s Column – November, 2017

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

It’s budget building season. Town departments have begun the arduous process of developing budgets
for the coming fiscal year, July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 (FY2019). These department budgets are due in the Manager’s office by mid-November. Most will be in by the time this is published. I then go through each budget as does the Finance Director, Melissa Currier, first to confirm accuracy of each line item, and then to determine if the proposals are to be included in the budget I send on to the Select Board in mid-December. I will generally meet with each department head to review the final product. The Select Board generally sets two to three work sessions (3-4 hours each) in January to go over each major budget with the department head and the Manager. The final budget, once approved by the Board, is then warned for the vote at March Town Meeting.

On Friday November 17th, a small contingent of people will be heading to Montpelier to present at the second Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC) hearing regarding Bennington’s application for a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. This very important application, if approved, will allow the Town to bond for necessary improvements in the identified district and allow those bonds to be paid back by the incremental increase in the Grand List using State Education Tax monies generated by the new developments. The first hearing held here in Bennington was very well received by the VEPC Board. There will be a third meeting wherein the final decision should be made.

Contractors are well underway on the extension of the North Bennington and Bennington municipal water systems to provide municipal water to hundreds of homes. Testing has been completed in the area known as Phase 2. The results are to be released at the end of December if all goes as planned.

Work continues on the new home for the Public Works Department. We are now shooting for a mid-December occupancy. Much work remains. Staff are focused on getting everything in place and preparing for Winter. The two old garages will then be available for reuse. You will recall that the Town plans to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) to gain an understanding of the interest in the buildings and what uses might be planned.

The Charter Review Committee continues its work. The Committee has made its way through the first five (5) sections of the Charter which include the Select Board make up and powers, the Manager, elected officers such as the Town Clerk and the Treasurer, and taxation. The next public forum is scheduled for November 28th at the Bennington Fire Facility from 5:30 pm until 7:00 pm. Following that on November 29th, the Committee will hold another 3 hour work session from 4:30 pm until 7:30 pm at the Town Offices. Weekly noon work sessions will continue as well. The schedule and agenda are posted on the Town’s website and its Facebook page. Minutes are published on the website only.

On Monday, November 20th, the Bennington Planning Commission and the Select Board will hold a joint public meeting to receive comments on two solar projects, Battle Creek 1, a project in a “preferred” location behind Carbone and Chelsea adjacent to the Apple Hill project. Having revised the project from its original size, the developer has asked the Public Utilities Commission to consider it anew. The Supreme Court appeal has been withdrawn.

Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 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.