Selectboard addresses natural resources, budget changes

By Heather McKim

At the June 24 meeting of the Shelburne Selectboard, Police Officer Chris Morrell and police dog Buck were recognized for their service to the town of Shelburne. Morrell and his canine partner are retiring from the force.

State Representatives to Montpelier Joan Lenes and Kate Webb were present at Tuesday night’s meeting to give an update on what is going on in the state. A few highlights were:

Act H 526 goes into effect shortly. This act would be a subject of discussion at the June 26 Planning Commission meeting where representatives from the Department of Environmental Conservation would be in attendance.

A $665 million investment in transportation was passed.

Waterbury is making a post-Irene comeback, and the state has entered its final stage of commitments made to the town in the wake of devastation.

Gail Albert of the Natural Resources and Conservation Committee read the committee’s charge before the board, which included developing a vision for the town’s development and natural resources, developing and maintaining the Open Space Plan, education, and outreach.

Of the maintenance of open spaces, Albert said, “I think it’s going remarkably well”. She spoke of the removal of invasives and improvement of paths. “We’ve done a lot of removal of poison parsnip.”

The committee is concerned by pollution levels in McCabe’s Brook. Lawn care has played a significant part in contamination. Albert emphasized finding less harmful alternatives.

When asked how Selectboard can do to help, Albert said that she would like the Board to seek their advice, share information, and to come out to walk the conserved lands. Her emphasis was on building dialogue.

The police services contract between Shelburne and Charlotte was on the agenda, however the Charlotte Selectboard decided at its June 23 meeting to enter a contract with the state police instead. This ended a highly debated arrangement between the two towns. Shelburne will extend its current arrangement, if needed, until July 31 to allow for Charlotte to make a smooth transition.

Board members voted to approve a $1,791,000 wastewater budget for fiscal year 2015, an increase of 6.6 percent over the 2014 budget.

Major budget changes include an increase of $24,300 in operating costs, $25,000 added to the Capital Improvement Fund, $35,000 for sludge disposal and $30,000 for tank clean out.

The Board also authorized the Town Manager to submit an application for the town to become a Bicycle Friendly Community. The designation from League of American Bicyclists could be beneficial in grant applications.

Member Toni Supple opposed the application due to concerns about the necessity of such a designation and concerns over unintended consequences. She called the proposal “audacious” for its characterization of cul-de-sac as “dead ends” and pointed to the fact that real estate is a significant revenue source for the town.

The Board voted to approve:

A one-time change to the town’s personnel policy relating to health insurance premium share.

A request by Habitat for Humanity for partial waiver of fees in connection to duplexes at the Harrington Village project.

The renewal of two one-year capital equipment notes with the Bank of Middlebury for $13,800 and $49,200.

Setting the interest rate for late property tax payments for fiscal year 2014-2015.

The final item approved ensures that the town is in conformance with all state Open Meeting Law changes effective July 1. This affects every committee in town, and sets three designated locations for posting announcements for meets: Pierson Library, the post office and the bulletin board outside of the Town Clerk’s office.