By Michelle Fields, Standard Correspondent
Woodstock Village voters will gather Tuesday to consider a budget that is very similar to last year. In fact, the $1,454,850 budget actually results in $2,010 less to be raised in taxes compared to last year meaning the tax rate will remain the same. The $.2050 rate results in a village tax of $512.50 on a $250,000 home.
In addition to the Village budget, voters will also consider a number of special articles related to local tax exemptions for the properties of nonprofits such as The Homestead, Mertens House, The Woodstock Little Theater and Recreation Center, and the Simmons House. A final special article asks whether voters wish to vote on questions related to the construction of a snow dump via Australian ballot at an Annual or Special Village Meeting.
Last year voters approved the purchase of a snow dump at annual Village Meeting only to find out later that one of the funds, a parking reserve fund, could not be used as those funds were earmarked by the state legislature for parking only (legislation submitted by Representative Alison Clarkson to allow parking meter funds to be used as general municipal revenue has just passed out of the House sub-committee to be considered by the full House later this session). Sustainable Woodstock stepped in with donations of $32,500 to complete the purchase, which will be done later this spring. Article XVII relates to how to approach the further development of that lot into a snow dump.
Village Manager Phil Swanson notes in his annual report that there has been interest in moving the snow dump away from its current location adjacent to the river. “Another benefit of moving the snow dump is the East End becomes more viable for development without a snow dump so near.” In another portion of his report, he notes that the development of the seasonal River Park in the location of the current snow dump has already begun with a clean up and plantings this summer and fall.
One area of change in the proposed budget is an increase from $38,000 to $55,000 in road construction. Swanson notes that plans call for finishing the resurfacing of Lincoln Street and fixing the numerous potholes that have appeared on Route 4 this winter. “We have a lot of work to do on Route 4,” he says. The 1929 concrete roadbed under Route 4 is disintegrating making any repairs temporary as the road continues to shift, pushing the asphalt patches out of the pot holes.
“Unfortunately, pot holes are here to stay,” says Trustee Chair Candace Coburn in her report. She further notes that a Route 4 paving project by the State a few years ago “was scaled back due to hardship on our local businesses, we now see the real consequences when the base, in this case the old cement road, is not fixed correctly.”
Salt prices have also increased causing an increase of $5,000 on this line. “We’ve over spent now,” says Swanson about this winter’s salt spending that is 15 percent over budget thus far. Savings in employee benefits due to the plans chosen, have decreased some costs reducing the budget overall. Municipal Employees will be switching to the new state insurance, Vermont Health Connect, later this year when it is fully active.
Village Voters can vote for Trustees (both Coburn and Chris Miller are running for re-election) by Australian ballot from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Town Hall. They are also invited to attend Village Meeting to consider all monetary matters beginning at 7:30 p.m., also at Town Hall.