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Posted on: January 2, 2024

Manager's Message: December 2023

December 2023 Managers Message

When we turned the calendar page to December, despite the weather outside, the holiday spirit was alive and well in the Town offices. The lack of snow, wet weather and unprecedented winter flooding did not diminish the joy and excitement of the holidays. The soft glow of the holiday tree lights glistening on the town offices as each workday ended. The festive light displays along the ride home reminded me of this special time of year. How wonderful it is to bring cheer and brightness to some of the shortest, darkest days of the year. We are fortunate to have no shortage of cheer or brightness within our municipal staff/team as well. Our offices were abuzz with activity as we worked to close out 2023 and prepare for the New Year.

FY25 Town Budget Process Wrapping Up

After budget presentations at five separate Selectboard meetings in December, I am happy to report that the Town’s FY25 budget is set to be finalized at the Selectboard meeting on January 2. Department Heads worked closely with me, Finance Director Amber Baker and the Selectboard to present a budget to the public that meets the needs of our growing community while remaining fiscally responsible for taxpayers. Once approved by the Selectboard, the proposed budget will be posted on the Town website at miltonvt.gov/vote.

The Town budget proposal, as it stands today, has an overall spending increase of 2.4%, which equates to approximately a 1-cent property tax increase. The proposal also incorporates a minimal increase in projected revenue, which comes from interest income, rescue billing and rental income from Lamoille Terrace solar array. Furthermore, the FY24 budget contingency line increased in anticipation of additional labor expenses related to collective bargaining. Done to prevent compromising the Towns bargaining position at the time, there is no longer a need for those funds in the FY25 budget, now that the new contract has been ratified. 

The upward pressure in expenditures reflected in this budget comes from increased salaries and increases to health, property, casualty and workers’ compensation insurance. This is understandable, as we have seen increases in town property values, vehicle costs and labor costs. Additionally, new to the Town’s budget this year are the operational costs associated with the new public works facility and the new employer/employee paid childcare tax.

If you have questions about the budget or if you would like additional information, please visit the Town’s website at miltonvt.gov/vote.

Update on December Flooding

Just as we submitted the Town’s claim for FEMA public assistance after the July flooding, we found ourselves responding to rising waters as a result of heavy rain and melting snow on the evening of December 18.  While the resulting flooding caused several road closures and a new pile of debris at River Street Park, we are happy to report that the damage was minimal by comparison to the July flooding. I would like to thank our highway crew and first responders for your preparedness and your dedication to the safety of our Town. 

Office Decorating Contest Winner“Deck the [Town] Halls” Office Decorating Contest Winner

For the third year in a row, Town staff “Decked the Town Halls” at the Municipal Offices in hopes of winning the coveted grand prize, complete with a custom-made trophy (by Highway Crew member, Keith Spaulding), some holiday treats and most importantly, bragging rights for the coming year. Officially clinching the title of “undefeated champions”, the Finance Department took first place, with honorable mentions for the Highway Department and Town Clerk and Treasurer’s Office. Congratulations, Finance Team! Everyone did a great job decorating and bringing cheer to our workspaces. 

In picture (left to right): Keith Spaulding (representing the Highway Department), Amber N. Baker (representing the Finance Department) and Jocelind Knapp (representing the Town Clerk and Treasurer’s Office)

Construction on the New Public Works Facility Continues

I’m happy to share that we were able to get the foundation poured for the new public works facility before winter officially arrived. The unseasonably warm weather has worked in our favor on this project to date. Construction will continue throughout the winter as weather permits. We are still on track to be in the building before winter of 2024.  

A Few Staffing Notes

Doris Trainque, our payroll/accounts payable clerk for the last five years, retired on December 15th. Doris did an incredible job during her time with the Town, and we will certainly miss her. Additionally, Public Works Director Lisa Schaeffler and Highway Senior Equipment Operator Bruce Trombly had significant surgeries in December. We wish them both well and a speedy recovery. 

Farewell to a Festive Month of Recreation Events

The month of December is always a busy and festive time of year for the Recreation Team. We had beautiful weather for our Holiday Tree Lighting on December 2, which drew about 350 visitors to the Municipal Offices for hot cocoa, cookies, pictures with Santa and the warm glow of holiday lights. We collected 185 letters to Santa, making sure each one got a response directly from the big man himself. At our Holiday Concert on December 10, we saw 250-300 attendees. Our annual Holiday Decorating Contest had 9 competitors, and 1,019 votes were cast. We rounded out the season on Thursday, December 21 with our annual Holiday Light Parade, when 32 vehicles decked out in holiday lights traveled a 24.75 mile route around Milton, spreading Christmas spirit. Thank you to all who participated in this fun tradition!

As we bid farewell to a glorious holiday season, we look forward to welcoming in a new year. Watch the Recreation Department’s facebook page for upcoming information on the Winter Festival in February.  

Update Regarding Damage in Parks

We were recently heartbroken to discover several of our park structures, including four of our recently restored murals, had been vandalized. The police have identified two juveniles as responsible for the damage and are working on potential restitution. We will look forward to working on repairs in the spring when the weather allows. 

As always, I hope this message finds you and yours well. Our team looks forward to seeing you in our offices and around town soon. Happy New Year!

Don Turner, Jr. 
Milton Town Manager

P.S. – If you would like to receive text or email notifications when these monthly Manager's Messages are posted, sign up for "Community News" at miltonvt.gov/notifyme.


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