Middlebury town meeting preview 2020
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury voters at their town meeting will vote on three major capital improvement projects, elect a new selectboard member, and decide a municipal budget of $11,503,680 that will require a 1.3% increase in property tax revenue.
Residents on March 3 will be asked to bond for a combined total of up to $5.35 million to bankroll projects aimed at replacing aging water main in the Court Square area, fortifying the banks of the Middlebury River to avert future flooding in East Middlebury, and repurposing former sewer plant buildings into storage space for the municipal police department.
Here is more detail on those requests:
• A bond of up to $2.5 million to finance water main improvements to Court Square, including the intersection of Main Street/North Pleasant Street, Court Street (from Court Square to Cross Street); and Washington Street (from Court Square to Seminary Street). Public works officials have had to deal with a large number of costly water breaks in this area, according to town officials.
• A bond of up to $2 million to make a series of flood-prevention upgrades to the Middlebury River in the vicinity of East Middlebury village. The proposed improvements include reinforcing the river berm along Ossie Road with rip-rap; removing sediment from the river; and repairing and reinforcing the floodwall at the Gristmill Bridge.
Here’s the breakdown of the project: Repair the existing flood wall, and extend it 150 feet downstream ($1 million); armor sections of the Ossie Road berm ($800,000); and remove sediment from chute entrances and the top of large sand bars ($200,000).
The so-called “East Middlebury Flood Resiliency Project” has been in the planning stages for several years. East Middlebury village is at the foot of the mountainous trek the river takes adjacent to Route 125 through Ripton.
• A bond of up to $850,000 to rehab portions of the former wastewater treatment plant off Lucius Shaw Lane to use as storage space for the nearby Middlebury Police Department.
Around 20 years ago Middlebury decommissioned its former wastewater treatment plant off Lucius Shaw Lane, and the community later built a new police station at the property. The department has been using some of the former plant’s structures for storage, but they need work, officials said.
While the three separate requests add up to $5.35 million, Middlebury residents won’t be on the hook for nearly that much. That’s because the selectboard has put together a financing plan that includes a large federal grant and surplus revenues from Middlebury’s local option tax fund.
Major drivers for the proposed fiscal year 2021 municipal budget include a $141,846 increase in contracted wages and a $52,700 surge in employee benefits, as well as a proposed $185,358 jump in capital improvement projects throughout town. The town has been making a concerted effort to catch up on deferred maintenance of roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure.
Other articles on the Middlebury town meeting warning seek:
• A quadrupling of the proposed annual appropriation for Middlebury Regional Emergency & Medical Services (MREMS), which provides ambulance and heavy rescue services to Middlebury and several other Addison County towns. MREMS asked for $21,240 for this year and is requesting $84,960 for next year. As previously reported by the Independent, MREMS’s current revenues aren’t enough to help the organization update its ambulance fleet and pay its staff competitive wages. Also, MREMS’s $2.50-per-capita contribution request is far less than the $24-per-capita statewide average than other first-responder organizations ask of their member-towns; White River Valley Ambulance charges $63 per capita, for instance.
• Permission to borrow up to $80,000 over five years to replace two police cruisers and related equipment.
• $5,000 to the Turning Point Center of Addison County to carry on its mission of helping people, their families, and their friends in recovery from substance use disorder and addictive behaviors.
• $5,000 to help the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity provide housing, fuel and food assistance to town residents.
There are no contested municipal elections in Middlebury this year. Running unopposed are incumbent Selectman Brian Carpenter for another three years; Dan Brown, selectboard, three years (for a seat now held by Laura Asermily); Susan Shashok, town moderator, one year; Ann Webster, town clerk, three years Jacqueline Sullivan, town treasurer, three years; Andy Hooper, Ilsley Library trustee, three years; and Gary Baker, lister, three years.
But local residents will field two contested elections for the Addison Central School District board. One of them involves Ellie Bishop challenging Jennifer Nuceder for a three-year term representing Salisbury on the 13-member panel. The other features Christin Gardner and incumbents Mary Gill and Victoria Jette vying for two available slots representing Middlebury.
Local residents on March 3 will join Bridport, Cornwall, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge folks in fielding an ACSD budget proposal of $39,507,837 for the 2020-2021 academic year. The spending plan reflects a 3.74-percent increase that would essentially allow the district to maintain current educational programming for children in pre-K through grade 12.
If approved, the ACSD budget is projected to drive Middlebury’s homestead education property tax rate to $1.64 per $100 in property value, up from the current $1.54.
The proposed 2020-2021 Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center budget of $3,854,752 reflects an 11.42% increase compared to this year’s spending plan.
Middlebury’s annual meeting will be held on Monday, March 2, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Middlebury Union High School Auditorium. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the town recreation center at 154 Creek Road.
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