Weston board sets homestead rate at $2.17 Citing enforcement issues, questions about authority, votes down mask mandate

By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Town Treasurer Kim Seymour at the Weston Select Board meeting on Tuesday, July 14 said the combined homestead tax rate will be $2.17 cents per $100 of property valuation and $2.19 cents for non-residents. Seymour said this is down from last year. According to the minutes for last year’s meeting, the homestead rate was approximately $2.16 cents and $2.21 cents for non-residents.

Weston board chair Denis Benson, appearing on Zoom, suggested delaying replacement of the Trout Club culvert.

The rates were determined after the board agreed with board chair Denis Benson’s motion that the Trout Club culvert not be replaced this year — a project estimated to cost $250,000 — and more drastic cutting be done the next fiscal year. The town did receive a $170,000 structures grant from the Agency of Transportation for the project. 

The board also agreed to not impose a 3 percent late fee for homestead filers this year. 

Board Administrative Assistant Natalie Boston read a letter from Jane Worley, an advanced practice registered nurse, asking the town to “consider an emergency mandate to require all its citizens to wear face masks in public.”

The board agreed with board member Anne Fuji’i that while they support residents wearing masks, they believed that they did not have the authority to impose a mandate nor the ability to enforce that mandate. A day later, the Londonderry Select Board voted to mandate masks throughout that town’s business community, which the town of Manchester did earlier this year.

The Weston Board voted to reauthorize enforcement of zoning issues and allow board members to contact town lawyer Robert Woolmington of Manchester. to talk about the best way to approach discrepancies in zoning. Board member Jim Linville said he will focus on signage in talking with Zoning Administrator Will Goodwin after first talking with Wilmington.

Painting the lines

Board member Anne Fuji’i said there was no way that the board could enforce mask-wearing.

Road Foreman Almon Crandall told the board that the paving on Lawrence Hill Road is completed, except for painting the yellow lines, which paving contractor Fuller Sand and Gravel is responsible for. He said Fuller will probably wait until all their local paving is done before calling in the painting contractor.

Fuji’i expressed concern about the lack of lines on the triangle near the Post Office, saying that drivers get confused about which side of the center they should be on. Crandall said he would ask Fuller when this will get painted and added that he and his crew will paint the white lines for parking.

The board tabled two items related to emergency preparedness and communication. One was to discuss the amount of paid training for new Emergency Management Director Michael Smilovich. Linville suggested 10 to 20 hours a quarter for the first quarter, then 10 hours per quarter.  Administrative Assistant Boston will  reach out to former Weston EMD Birgit Sutter-Davis and Londonderry EMD Kevin Beattie for their advice.

The second item was to sign up with Vermont Alert. At the previous board meeting, Linville said he wanted a way to communicate with town residents in an emergency. Boston said Vermont Alert is a free state service in which the town decides how to communicate with the community. Treasurer Seymour said information about Vermont Alert can be added to tax bills to be sent out in August.

Administrative Assistant Natalie Boston explains the Vermont Alert program.

The also agreed to authorize a survey of the land between the Post Office, owned by Tom Foster, and the town property occupied by the Little School.  Linville said he wants the survey because Zoning Administrator Will Goodwin told him there is a 10-foot set back requirement for generators in a flood zone, so the board “really needs to understand where the property line is.” The board is planning to purchase a generator to serve both the Little School and the Town Office building.

As for the generator, the board agreed to buy a 30Kw generator, which has the same engine as a 24Kw generator, uses 20 percent more fuel, and costs about $1,200 more. An energy audit costing about $300 to determine the load heat pumps would add to the energy demands of the two buildings was rejected as unnecessary.

 

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