All About Town – Town Manager Stuart Hurd

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

The Safety and Equity Task force has been formed. It is made up of 10 people from a variety of backgrounds, chosen after interviews with the Select Board. The first meeting of the group was October 7th. They will meet again on October 21 via zoom to continue the discussion on a community advisory/oversite committee to work with the Bennington Police Department on community policing issues and concerns. The group elected co-chairs and a note-taker. They will continue to work with NACOLE (National Association for Civilian Oversite of Law Enforcement) for the next four months to draft a report outlining their recommendations on a future committee. The plan is to meet on the first and third Thursday either in person or by zoom to using the Bennington Fire Facility as the public meeting space. Meetings will begin at 4:30 pm and last approximately two hours.

At its most recent meeting, the Select Board opened a discussion on how the community funds its downtown advocacy efforts. Currently contracting with the BBC (Better Bennington Corporation), the efforts are funded through the Downtown Improvement District, a taxing district established by Charter some years ago. The tax is levied only on properties and portions of properties within the District that are used commercially. It places an extra burden on those properties by adding an additional $0.236 on the tax rate these properties pay to the Town. On a $100,000 property, it amounts to $236 annually. The BBC’s current allocation from the Town is just over $82,000. If the Select Board were to decide to place the BBC in the General Fund budget, it would be then treated similar to the Libraries and the Rescue Squad having its budget reviewed in January of a given year. If this were done, the current allocation would amount to an additional $0.008 on the Town’s tax rate. All properties in Bennington would pay this additional amount, approximately $8.00 annually on a $100,000 home. The Board plans to continue this discussion at its October 25th meeting.

The Board also heard a report on the use of the SVC athletic fields. Although the baseball field really never dried out to make use possible, the soccer field was heavily used thereby relieving strain on our other fields. The Board agreed to continue the agreement for a mutually agreeable time but no more than two years as SVHC continues its deliberation on ultimate use of the entire property.

The Citizen Survey has been launched. It will be available on- line at www.benningtonvt.org/survey, by mail upon request 802-442-1037, in person at the Town Offices, the Community Center (Rec Center), and the Senior Center on Pleasant Street. It will close November 5th. Please take the time to answer it. It is one way we can hear from our citizens about the many things local government provides. It will also help provide direction for the Select Board and staff looking forward.

The Town has adopted a mandatory vaccination or testing policy for all its employees. It will take effect November 1, 2021 and remain in place indefinitely. Those employees who are unvaccinated will be required to test weekly and file the results with the Town. It is our hope that encouraging vaccinations for our entire workforce will keep our employees and their families safe and healthy and keep our interactions with our fellow citizens safe as well.

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.