City council readies for loss of cell tower revenue

VERGENNES — Vergennes aldermen at their April 8 meeting heard from City Manager Mel Hawley that the city will lose one cell phone contract, from Nextel Partners, to hang broadcast equipment on the city’s former water tower behind city hall. The city now has four contracts that contribute about $100,100 a year to the Water Tower Fund that helps pay for downtown improvements.
Hawley said he had been expecting to lose the $30,000-a-year lease because Nextel merged with Sprint, which also leases space on the tower. It is not clear whether payments will stop this October or a year from then, he said.
Meanwhile, Hawley said AT&T is negotiating with Vergennes to hang more equipment on the tower, and he expects an additional amount approaching $8,000 to come from those talks.
Also at the meeting, aldermen reached a consensus to extend city sewer lines into neighboring Ferrisburgh to serve Denecker Chevrolet (see story in April 10 edition), and they:
•  Approved spending up to $19,000 from the Vergennes Burying Ground fund to install what Hawley called “high-quality, ornamental, period-style fencing” around some of the perimeter of the city-owned Mountain View Lane cemetery. 
•  OK’d another season of the Vergennes Farmers Market on the city green. The market will do business along the front of the park on Thursdays from 3 to 6:30 p.m., beginning on June 12 and ending on Sept. 25.
•  Appointed Hawley and Mayor Bill Benton as the city’s delegates to the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. 
•  After discussion, decided to leave unchanged rates for using the city’s Sam Fishman Pool this summer. Hawley said aldermen would take a close look at the pool’s finances after this season because poor weather in 2013 suppressed pool use and left only a small fund balance.
•  Agreed to contribute $1,630 toward the $21,355 cost of restoring and reinstalling the Vergennes Opera House marquee in front of city hall. Hawley said that amount, requested by theater backers, represents the portion of the project that will improve lighting in the courtyard.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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