Bellows Falls Trustees consider water main projects for 2020

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Bellows Falls Village Trustees met for a special meeting to consider additional water main projects using the rest of the bond money of $510,000 and to begin the process in hiring a new police chief.

Chrissy Haskins of the Dufresne Group explained different scenarios for annual payments, based on the current contracts with projects from Mill, Burt, Blake, and Park streets. She said, “Based on the million in bond money, the village would pay back about $400,000 or $20,000 per year under current loan terms with 0% interest.” With additional spending, the village would pay roughly $30,000 per year.

Jonathan Wright mentioned his biggest concern was that the bond money was approved by village voters for a defined cap. He said, “I’m in favor of holding off. We need to get our financial situation and rates stabilized.”

Welcome to Bellows Falls. Established 1792.
Welcome to Bellows Falls. Established 1792.

Stefan Golec wondered if they should move forward, and Municipal Manager Wendy Harrison answered, “It is my understanding this is the time to make the decision.”

Haskins explained that construction must occur in 2020 to utilize the bond money and bids should be out as soon as possible.

Golec reminded the board that rates will be raised another 10% and “It would be nice for users to know the impact [of this project] on rates.”

Harrison replied that there would be no impact on rates and Jonathan Wright said it would impact the general fund.

Water Department Director Brian Josyln explained that Pine Street was in the worst condition and said the department had already made two repairs on Pine Street on “two bad valves.”

Harrison said the additional improvement would not be an irresponsible decision. Jonathan Wright agreed. “We are improving infrastructure. It’s a matter of exceeding the vote. The voters defined plans to borrow a certain amount of money for certain projects.” He wanted more planning.

Gary Lique made the motion. “We proceed with what Brian said is the worst – Pine Street.” The Trustees approved the design for the Pine Street water main including trench pavement, 3-1 with Jonathan Wright opposed.

A committee of two community members, two Trustees, and three law enforcement officials was approved to begin the search for a new police chief, following the annoucement of Chief Ron Lake’s retirement in March. Harrison said, “The process needed to be fair, deliberative, and thoughtful.”

Lister Paul Obuchowski volunteered and Jonathan Wright nominated Village Trustees James McAuliffe and Gary Lique for the search committee.

The Village Trustees next meeting is Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Bellows Falls Opera House.

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