South Tank cell tower debate

Shelburne’s Water Commission is looking to boost its budget in the face of a $422,000 price tag for upgrades and expenditures. Cell antennas attached to Shelburne’s South Tank generate approximately $100,000 in revenue each year. Where that revenue goes was the focus of a presentation by the Water Commission at the Aug. 11 meeting of the Selectboard.

Currently, Shelburne’s Water Commission receives 23 percent of the cell antenna revenue. Commissioner Michael Regan said having the full amount would allow the Water Commission to plan for the future. The commission has been planning year-to-year, rather than looking at the longer term due to limited funding, he said in his presentation to the Selectboard.

“There are going to be capital improvement projects down the road and also maintenance on the tank if we don’t give it to CWD,” Regan said referring to Chittenden Water District.

The commission’s gain would mean a loss of about $75,000 per year, or about 1 percent, to the town’s budget. That would mean either decreasing services elsewhere or increasing taxes.

Selectboard Chair Gary von Stange questioned where that money should come from. Regan countered that the potential tax increase would be less than the water rate increase would be. For 80 percent of town residents who are rate payers.

Regan said this would be financially advantageous for most of Shelburne’s residents by keeping water rates from rising as significantly as they would otherwise. “This seems to be an issue where everyone wins,” Regan said.

Von Stange said, the Water Commission, like every other body in town, seeks a larger share of the General Fund. This discussion between the Selectboard and Water Commission is not an adversarial conversation but, rather, one of cooperation, he said.

The conversation will be continued later this year. The issue of cell tower revenue share was not a decision item at the Aug. 11 Selectboard meeting.
“The water revenue share proposal will be considered during our budget discussions in December and January,” Von Stange said.

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