The Town of Colchester has a long list of goals and priorities for the coming year.
At the selectboard meeting last week, those goals and priorities, which include developing a plan for a reassessment and the completion of the design for a Colchester Recreation Center, were unanimously approved by the board.
A Sept. 8 memo from Colchester Town Manager Aaron Frank lists the goals divided into different sections based on different town entities. At the Sept. 13 meeting, Frank ran through the goals during a presentation.
This is the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago that the town has taken the steps to have a robust list of goals in a public setting, although the town had shortened versions during that time.
Frank said the pandemic has pushed many things back and some of this year's goals have been on the docket in years past.
He said when setting goals for this year, the town is facing challenges with increased costs of goods and services. Frank specifically mentioned the price of vehicles and equipment.
“We're trying to navigate this in the best way we can for the taxpayers,” he said. “We extended the life of some vehicles by patching them up, but eventually they do need to get replaced.”
Frank said the town has been put on notice that Colchester is in the zone where they should be preparing for a town-wide reappraisal, meaning property values in Colchester are reaching levels that will soon trigger the process.
Frank said the town is aiming to develop a timeline and plan for the reassessment, mapping out staffing and a budget while also laying out the appeals process for people who disagree with the assessment of their property value.
For that appeal process, the town is working on an online appeal site, where property owners could submit their information and schedule a hearing without going to the town offices.
Parks and Recreation
Frank said Colchester Parks and Rec is looking to complete the design and price estimation for a Colchester Recreation Center that will then be shown to the selectboard, which will determine whether the project will go to a public vote.
Frank said that once the plan is ready it will first go in front of the Recreation Advisory Board for input then the selectboard this fall.
Fire, Rescue and Police
Colchester Fire is looking to recruit and maintain volunteers.
Frank said the department was really challenged by this through the pandemic, despite efforts to have Zoom training. The department is also looking to replace some of their air packs as well as aging portable radios.
Colchester Rescue is looking to continue the education work that it’s done in past years as well as recruiting more volunteers.
Frank said that previous education efforts have been successful for the department, making sure volunteers are comfortable in multiple different working positions while on duty.
The Colchester Police Department is continuing its preparation for big administration and supervisory changes in the near future.
In January of this year, Colchester Police Chief Doug Allen said the department is getting ready to see 182 years of experience leave the force, as five officers are looking to retire including himself and Deputy Chief Jeffrey Barton.
Frank said the department is preparing the next group for leadership and getting ready for some mid-level promotions.