During the Colchester Selectboard meeting on April 13, the FY22 stormwater utility budget along with the FY22 wastewater utility budget were approved.
These budgets include new construction projects on underground pipes and roadways. There are many planned projects for the coming year, including roadway improvements on Galvin and Coon Hill roads which are part of the Phosphorus Control Plan. The Shore Acres Stormwater Project will help improve water quality in that area.
The budgets also include the purchasing of a new street sweeper, pipelining or restoring structural integrity of pipes by lining them and the BLUE program.
The proposed FY22 Stormwater Budget increased by 3% this year going from $962,733 in FY21 to $991,615. For the first time since the start in 2017, the Equivalent Residential Unit rate or the base fee rate increased by 2.8% going from $52 to $53.50.
The Selectboard meeting consisted of discussing these budgets, approving the updated 2021 local emergency management plan and hearing about the progress of the merging of three Colchester Fire Departments.
Here are two major takeaways:
The BLUE program is entering its third year offering incentives, or financial rebates, to residents for stormwater improvements they make on their properties.
Karen Adams, the technical services manager in the public works department, presented the stormwater utility budget.
“Every little bit of stormwater that can be managed on a homeowner site is less that comes into the town system, and it improves water quality overall,” Adams said.
The BLUE program will be advertised in the utility spring newsletter, where people can sign up to participate in the program. In past years, using the newsletter has helped fill all of the spots.
A survey was done to see how the program can be improved. Now, instead of flat rebates, the program is offering $1 per square foot of impervious surface mitigated up to a certain cap.
This will hopefully incentivize larger projects, said Adams.
The merging of all three of the Colchester fire departments has been successful, and Fire Chief, Steve Bourgeois, has been training new members via video conferencing.
Certifications were able to be maintained because of the ability to meet via video call. But with vaccines rolling out, fire department members will soon be able to train in person without masks or social distance if they are all vaccinated.
“It feels great to get back together training in person,” Bourgeois said.
The Colchester Fire Department is continuing to work on integrating and standardizing equipment, painting the station, upgrading lighting and heating and more. Bourgeois said the volunteer program hasn’t really been affected by Covid-19 and levels are in a good spot at the moment.
The Colchester Selectboard approved the purchase of an E1 fast attack fire engine using funds from the fire capital fund.
Here’s what else you need to know:
Green-up day is Saturday, May 1, and Green-up Day bags will be available at the police station starting the week prior, on Monday, April 26. Green-up Day will be from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Julie Hulburd resigned from the Colchester Selectboard to start her new position as one of three governor-selected appointees on the Cannabis Control Board.
Burning of any kind is not allowed for the time being. The National Weather Service put out a red flag warning due to extremely dry conditions. Bourgeois said it is difficult to regulate who is burning and how, so it is easier to eliminate the issue altogether by denying anyone the ability to burn. Once the season gets more humid, burning will be permitted again, which will probably be in the next few weeks, he said.