COLCHESTER — The majority of the Colchester selectboard’s virtual meeting on Tuesday night was devoted to facilitating public hearings on the Fiscal Year (FY) 22 municipal service budget and public safety capital plan.
Though no members of the public called in to ask questions or offer feedback, at least three people were watching the livestream on LCATV.
The board subsequently approved both plans, sending them to the Town Meeting Day ballot to be voted on by the public on March 2.
Here are the two most notable takeaways from the meeting.
1. The municipal service budget approved unanimously by the selectboard will increase property taxes by 2%.
This means a resident living in a $300,000 home will see their taxes increase by $34 next year.
“I believe this is one of the best municipal budgets we’ve had in some time,” Vice Chair Tom Mulcahy said, referencing the relatively limited change.
The budget of $13,482,862 will be placed on the ballot in March for voter approval.
During the public presentation, Town Manager Aaron Frank said that this year, FY 21, Colchester has the third lowest taxes per resident among the seven inner Chittenden County communities.
This is because in June 2020, the selectboard set the FY 21 town tax rate as $0.5480 per $100 of property value. This rate was less than the rate of $0.5530 set eight years ago for the FY 2013 tax bills.
2. Deputy Town Manager Renae Marshall presented and explained the Five-Year Capital Safety Plan.
The Capital Safety Plan funds the specialized equipment needs for the Colchester Rescue, Technical Rescue and Police Departments. It needs to be approved every five years by voters. It was last approved in 2016.
Equipment paid for by this plan includes items like cardiac monitors and defibrillators, radios and communication equipment, search cameras and police boats.
For the owner of a $300,000 home, this plan would cost approximately $4.15 a year for the next five years. The previous five years of funding cost the same homeowner approximately $2.53 a year.
This increase stems from an increase in demand, meaning as the town grows in population size, so must its rescue and police departments.
“We see about a 1% increase in town growth every year,” Frank said.
Here’s what else you need to know.
The board approved an amendment that will allow the Colchester Police Department to enforce traffic laws on the newly built, Vicenza Way.
Vicenza Way is a new, a 0.8 mile roadway that services about 12 residential homes, Town Engineer Amanda Clayton said during the meeting.
The street intersects with Windemere Way, located north of the Winooski River.
CPD will now be able to enforce the street’s 25 miles-per-hour speed limit, it’s stop sign and no parking designations on both sides of the roadway.
The board moved to support Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s acquisition of a 61-acre parcel of land currently owned by Vermont Gas Systems.
The parcel includes approximately 47.5 acres of forested area and 15.2 acres of non-forested natural or naturalized area, according to a Dec. 16 memo from Catherine Gjessing, general counsel to Fish and Wildlife to the selectboard.
The property also includes approximately 15.8 acres of rare Pine-Oak-Heath Sandplain Forest and approximately 32 acres of rare soil series. The property supports habitat for the uncommon Vermont plant, Nabalus trifoliolatus.
Fish and Wildlife will continue to allow all non-motorized recreational uses on the property.