Hawley talks budget, sprinklers

VERGENNES — In addition to discussing goals of each alderman, Vergennes City Council members at last Tuesday’s meeting:
• Heard from City Manager Mel Hawley that he will present a first draft of the city’s fiscal year 2011 budget at the council’s next meeting. Aldermen must adopt a new budget and set the municipal tax rate by the end of June. Hawley said the revenue side of this year’s budget looks strong, and department spending is on track, but that a $500,000 drop in the assessment for VELCO’s North Main Street substation will probably mean little or no growth in the Vergennes grand list.
• Were told by Hawley that the design for the new sprinkler system for the Vergennes Opera House and city hall proved to have inadequate pressure to reach the top of the building and would require an additional pump that could cost as much as $20,000 more. Hawley said the project is being delayed while the problem is being studied.
• Appointed Carrie Barrows to the development review board. 
• Heard from Hawley that he will advertise for the new position of pool director now that the city is operating the swimming pool, but that longtime pool manager Roland Guyette may be interested in staying on for another season.
• Heard from Alderman David Austin, a skate park committee member, that adult volunteers are still needed to supervise the facility; Austin may be reached at Main Street Footworks.
• Licensed a second driver for “Small City Taxi,” a new taxi service based in Vergennes operated by Rick Loyer.
• Heard from Hawley that the city had received a $40,000 check to add to an almost-depleted revolving load fund created by the sale of the Maynard Building on Main Street several years ago. The fund is intended to be used to back new ventures in the city. Aldermen tapped it to lend money to Shear Cuts when that business set up on Main Street.
• Were told by Hawley that Verizon Wireless had exercised its option to put cell phone broadcast equipment on the city’s water tower behind City Hall. Verizon will pay Vergennes about $2,000 a month for the privilege, and the equipment is expected to improve the company’s spotty coverage in the area.
• Heard that the city’s community garden had earned a $740 grant to improve its soil. At last word, the garden, on a corner of the Northlands Job Corps campus, had available slots. Information on getting a spot is available at City Hall.
Andy Kirkaldy is at [email protected].

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