Residents will cast ballots on $1.65M town garage in Starksboro

STARKSBORO — Voters in Starksboro will soon have the chance to weigh in on a proposal for a new town garage.
Selectwoman Susan Jeffries said the town selectboard plans to warn a vote on a $1.65 million bond for May 26.
For many residents, the vote couldn’t come soon enough. Asked what’s wrong with the current garage on Route 116, Jeffries said asking what isn’t wrong would provide a shorter answer.
She listed a litany of problems with the structure. It’s too small to hold all the equipment. It doesn’t have proper ventilation, insulation or drainage. There’s no potable water on site. The structure sits atop a steep hill that’s difficult for the trucks to traverse, especially during snowstorms.
If that isn’t bad enough, the ceiling on the garage is too low for crews to work on trucks while they’re parked inside.
“That may not be bad on a nice day in June, but it’s miserable at two o’clock in the morning in February,” Jeffries said.
Last August, the selectboard formed a committee to come up with a proposal for a new garage. Now, the town is prepared to put a proposal before voters.
The 7,000-square-foot garage would be almost twice as large as the current facility. It would be built north of the town offices on Route 116, on town-owned land near the fire station. It would be able to house all the road crew’s equipment: three trucks, a tractor, a grader and other smaller pieces of equipment.
The current estimated cost for the project is $1.69 million. The bond the town will ask residents for will total $1.65 million, since the town pledged a previous year’s surplus to offsetting the cost of a new garage.
Jeffries said she believes the selectboard and garage committee will be able to convince voters to approve the bond.
“Everybody who has seen the town garage and everyone I’ve talked to has said this needs to happen and should have happened 10 years ago,” Jeffries said.
She said the garage committee’s first estimate for the project was $2.3 million, but the group worked to make sure taxpayers would get the best bang for their buck.
“We’ve worked really hard to cut everything out of it we possibly can, and still have a building for the next 50 years,” Jeffries said.
The selectboard detailed how the bond, if approved, would affect residents’ taxes. The length of the bond would be either 25 or 30 years and be decided after the vote.
A 25-year bond would add 7.07 cents to the property tax rate, a 30-year bond would add 6.518 cents. That translates to an additional $141.40 annually for a home valued at $200,000 for the 25-year and $130.36 annually for the same house for the 30-year period. For a $300,000 home, the tax bill associated with the bonds would be an additional $212.10 or $195.54, respectively.
Jeffries said the Starksboro selectboard in coming weeks will distribute to residents an informational pamphlet about the project. The town will also hold an informational meeting ahead of the vote on May 18 at the Starksboro Public Library at 7 p.m.

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