It was a very tough winter that put a significant burden on our budget. As a result, I imposed a budget spending freeze on nonessential purchases in February to address our concerns at that time. I’m happy to report that as we enter our final month of the fiscal year, the budget looks good and we will end the fiscal year well within the voter approved budget.
Thanks to the work of Public Works Director Dave Allerton we recently received a $175,000 class two paving and a $175,000 structures grant for a total of $350,000 to help us get more projects done this summer. The Town also received financial assistance to improve storm water run-off on a few roads. Since Dave’s arrival, he is responsible for the Town receiving well over $1,000,000 in grants to improve our roads, bridges and storm water infrastructure.
I want to recognize departing staff members Tracey Crocker and Corey Vincelette good work here in Milton. Tracey worked in Planning and Zoning as an Administrative Assistant and Corey was our mechanic in public works. They have both moved on to higher paying positions in their field. We wish them both well.
The Planning and Zoning Department has been reorganized and reduced from a four person department to three. Planning Director Michael Burris, Zoning Administrator Amanda Pitts and Administrative Assistant Lindsey Beaudoin will be happy to assist you with any of your planning and zoning needs. The reduction of staff in that office, which has been very slow for the last eighteen months has allowed us to use savings to bring on another full time engineer in the public works office. We welcome new Public Works staff engineer Ashley Toof to our team. Ashley who comes to us from another community will be focusing on roads, sidewalks and storm water mitigation. It is essential for the Town to have someone focusing on these important parts of our infrastructure going forward. Each year we have more and more unfunded mandates passed down from Montpelier pertaining to storm water. These new regulations combined with years of deferred road, sidewalk and storm water maintenance created the need for this position. The slow workload and departure of the former Planning Director allowed us to move a full time equivalent position to the Public Works Department without adding to the total number of staff. Having worked in the private sector most of my life, I will always try to address these demands without growing the overall size of government.
Delinquent taxes this year are up slightly over last year. The total delinquencies as of May 20, 2019 are $627,064.41. This resulted in cumulative penalties of $50,233.07 on May 16th. Our Town charter states that anyone with an outstanding balance at the end of the day May 15th will be charged an 8% penalty. No one has the authority to waive or reduce that penalty. I want to thank the staff in the Town Clerk and Treasurers office for their hard work and great customer service. This is a very busy time in that office.
The Dog Park opened on Saturday May 18th to a large crowd of anxious residents and their dogs. First, I want to thank the Selectboard and the many residents who have championed for well over a decade the completion of this project. As our community grows, we face more and more demands for recreational facilities. With this demand comes a balancing resources and projects. We will continue to listen to your requests for projects and will work to invest in projects that appeal to more segments of our population. I have also heard from people that oppose this project. I understand their concern and try to explain the delicate balancing act of demand for projects and limited money. I also want to thank our staff, we have an excellent team in the Town offices constantly working together to overcome numerous hurdles along the way. Money is and will always be an issue, permit requirements could have easily derailed this project for another decade had it not been for our talented and hardworking team. Kym has championed this project for years, my office working with the finance department were able to chart a path to completion. Leveraging Town assets such as the valuable timber on this property and talented staff we were able to complete this project. Our highway superintendent Eric Gallas and team member Dan Sweeney worked approximately one week to manicure the beautiful site using a rented large bulldozer and the Town’s excavator. Staff volunteered many hours before and after work to rake and seed the site. This project was a total team effort and I hope the community embraces the park going forward. Since the opening, I have spoken to many people who are very pleased with the park. In order for this park to thrive in the future, we need you to help us maintain and police this site. If users do not clean up after their dogs and it becomes too much of a burden on taxpayers, the site could easily be converted to another use. Please help us preserve this beautiful park!
Please feel free to contact me at the Town Manager’s office 893-6655 or email me and I will be happy to assist you.