Residents and Neighbors,
After removing a one-cent errors and omission amount based on feedback from VLCT, and including an amount approved by CVPSA, the FY23 budget was set resulting in an overall 1.61% increase in the tax rate. Council considered proposed charter language review by the City Attorney. There are several cleanup items approved, along with new language around capital planning and including sales in the Local Options Tax. After reviewing Council priorities, the manager will identify the top five priorities from staff and report back to Council, while continuing to work on day-to-day and smaller items as time allows. Clerk Dawes provided an overview of the Funding Request Policy that called for Council to review submitted requests and determine funding amounts to be placed in one Article on the Town Meeting Day ballot. Discussion revolved around the four organizations supported in the City’s budget outside of this process and having a more consistent submission process from requesting organizations. Council discussed a general framework for ARPA funds and informally agreed to allocate $1 million for municipal infrastructure, $1 million for housing initiatives, and $500,000 for community innovations. Council will establish a task force to assist with the community requests, while a housing proposal reviewed by Council was provided to the VCRD Housing Task Force for feedback.
Council received an overview from HR Director Rikk Taft on the OSHA Emergency Standard Policy for employees to be tested for COVID weekly unless there is proof of vaccination. Fire Chief Doug Brent stated the vacant building list (26 currently) has been moved into the inspection software to allow for more efficient tracking and reporting. Finance Director Dawn Monahan reviewed the FY22 budget, which is favorable at this time but it’s too early to project an overall outcome. A report will be created on the structural, environmental, operating and maintenance of the Wheelock building. Stephanie Clark and Andy Hill reviewed a draft downtown parking study, which will be refined based on Council and staff input.
Council approved revised Wheelock Building lease agreement, warning for 2022 Annual Town Meeting Day, 2021 Certificate of Highway Mileage, dedicated the Annual Report in memory of Deputy Police Chief Andy Marceau, and approved for public bodies to meet in person, fully remote, or hybrid until January 15th, 2023.
Upcoming items include City Hall (Old Police Station) rearrangement plans, appointments to the Homelessness Task Force, approval of annual report photos, strategic planning consultant selection, Semprebon funds for river access, and Water/Wastewater rate structure recommendations. Council will also hear updates from the CV Public Safety Authority, Aldrich Library, Barre Partnership and BADC.
Stay warm and be safe!
Lucas J. Herring
Mayor, City of Barre