TOWN MEETING: Voters agree to purchase new grader, dump truck and police SUV

ON THE COVER: Chester’s annual Town Meeting gets under way. Photo by Claudio Veliz

By Cynthia Prairie

It was a relatively pain-free Town Meeting in Chester Monday night, with about 110 voters showing up to support almost unanimously every one of 13 fiscal articles that had to be voted on, including raising $2.4 million in property taxes for this year’s budget.

Heather Chase asks about the discrepancy between the capital budget request and actual costs of vehicles.

Heather Chase, standing in back, listens to an answer following her questioning the discrepancy between the capital budget request and actual costs of vehicles./Photo by Cynthia Prairie

Following much discussion, the $540,000 capital budget request in Article 3, which included purchase of a new dump truck, police SUV and grader, was approved unanimously by voice vote. Town manager David Pisha said the Capital Budget plan, which has been in place for three years, helps keep equipment replacement up to date at a “nearly level” funding rate.

Before the vote, several residents wanted to know the ages, mileage and hours that the vehicles that are to be replaced have been operated, as well as the trade-in value. The grader, Pisha said, was purchased in 2002 and was scheduled to be retired in 2011. Its trade-in value is $40,000, he said, adding that the town has not decided whether to trade it in or keep it.

Wanda Purdy asked if the town would consider buying a police sedan as opposed to a police SUV. Police Chief Richard Cloud responded that the SUV is much more versatile on town roads, especially during mud season. Pisha also said that vehicles are traded in after five years, “when the warranty is up and when the value starts to plummet.”

Heather Chase pointed to a discrepancy in the cost of the police cruiser requested in Article 3 and what Police Chief Richard Cloud contended an item would cost. Explaining that estimates are high to cover unforeseen cost increases  Pisha said, “We can’t spend more than is approved. The money, if it isn’t spent, can roll over into another (capital item) use.”

Sean Whalen holds his son in his lap as he listens to a resident speak during town meeting.

Sean Whalen holds his son in his lap as he listens to a resident speak during town meeting.

Last year, the town voted to replace another dump truck at a cost of $105,500. Due to be purchased in 2014 are a dump truck, a pickup truck a fire truck and a police cruiser. In 2015, the town has scheduled purchase of another dump truck and a loader. In 2016, a dump truck, excavator, police cruiser and pickup are scheduled for purchase. And in 2017, another dump truck, a pickup and a police cruiser are scheduled for purchase.

Other items in Article 3 include $60,000 for sidewalk replacement; $19,100 to be spent on a fire truck pump rebuild; $6,500 for a cemetery survey; $4,500 for a pool lift; $20,000 for upgrades to the Whiting Library; and $7,500 for upgrades to Town Hall.

Also discussed was the proposed purchase of a new fire truck that did not make it into the Town Warning, which The Telegraph wrote about in mid-February. It’s likely that the Select Board will vote during its public meeting tomorrow night to take out a lease on the new truck. The urgency is to meet a deadline to secure a discounted price for the truck.

The lease would be for $87,000 a year for three years at an interest rate of 2.95 2.59 percent, said Pisha. The town would take possession of the truck in 2014, and town voters would then have the chance to either vote it up or down in next year’s capital budget article during Town Meeting.

Other fiscal articles approved were:

  • accepting $250 each for the care of cemetery lots from Sherryl Shield; Jon Clark; John Capen; Gerald and Georgia Ethier; Norman Wright; Carol Rogenski; Roland and Irene Saulnier; Nell Boni Hughes; William and Janice Whitney and Helga Allen.
  • appropriating $8,649 for the Springfield Regional Development Corp.
  • appropriating $13,807 for the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of VT and NH.
  • appropriating $3,044 for Health Care and Rehabilitation Services Inc.
  • appropriating $2,500 to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA).
  • $1,200 for Senior Solutions the Council on Aging for Southeastern VT Inc.
  • $2,250 for Connecticut River Transit. At the time this was approved, Bruce Parks volunteered to represent Chester for the organization’s board.
  • $2,700 for Meals on Wheels Program.
  • $800 for Windsor County Partners.
  • $400 for Green Mountain RSVP & Volunteer Center of Windsor County.
  • $1,800 for Community Cares Network of Chester & Andover Inc. and
  • $3,000 for the Chester-Andover Family Center.

 

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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