LUDLOW, Vt. – The Ludlow Selectboard meeting Monday, Nov. 2 marked the first discussion about next year’s budget as well as covering infrastructure.
The Selectboard and town review of next year’s budget began with the whole budget in rough form expected in approximately two weeks. As the board began to go over some of the budget numbers in this meeting, Board Chairman Bruce Schmidt made a point to direct Ludlow’s Municipal Manager Scott Murphy to be mindful of the “little things that add up,” and to be sure that figures in the budget reflected the amounts that were spent the year before.
After some additional discussion, the board agreed to direct Murphy to try to level fund the budget as much as possible or with very little increase. “I’m concerned with what we’re going to be facing this winter, heading into next year…We just have to look at what’s going on in the world to see that things are not the same,” Schmidt said.
Murphy agreed to approach the budget with that in mind and said he could do that with the “every day, mundane line items” for the town. He did warn the board that there were going to be one or two major ticket items that the board will have to make hard decisions on.
Discussion turned to high EMS overtime numbers for the ambulance service leading to a short discussion about thwarted attempts to pursue a regionalized ambulance service in the past, a topic that may be discussed during the upcoming budget meetings. The next budget meeting has been scheduled for Monday, Nov. 23 at 5 p.m.
Murphy confirmed that tax revenue has been strong, with delinquencies not any higher than in past years.
The Ludlow Selectboard approved a per diem lease for Okemo Mountain Resort to use Stern’s gravel pit area for parking during the 2020/21 season. The lease would allow the resort to pay for daily usage of the additional parking lot only when necessary. If the season should prove to be robust, the per diem costs would not go beyond their usual lease amount. Schmidt, who is the general manager of Okemo Mountain Resort, recused himself from the vote.
The board awarded Daniels Construction with an emergency bridge repair needed on Vail Bridge in downtown Ludlow, to the decking only, which is currently coned off. The amount of $7,700 was approved with the town providing some in-kind work. The work will begin as soon as Daniels Construction can schedule the repair. The state has confirmed the bridge structure itself is safe. Full refurbishment of the bridge is slated for the summer of 2022.
An engineering report on Mieles’ property on Commonwealth Avenue was provided to the town and board with four options suggested to help deal with ongoing flooding the property owners have dealt with for years. Property owners were not present at the meeting as expected so the Town Manager Scott Murphy will discuss the options with the Mieles and put the topic on next month’s agenda. Schmidt suggested Scott also research the timeline for a permit that would be required for one of the options.
The board agreed to have Murphy apply for Municipal Roads Grant-in-Aid funding to be used for upgrades that were made to Old Weston Road, which will be finished in the spring. The grant is run through the Regional Planning Commission to help bring road segments into compliance with municipal road standards. Grant money received comes with a 20% match from the town, but that amount can be accomplished through in-kind services, meaning there is no financial outlay for the town.
The board has agreed to amend the town of Ludlow’s purchasing policy, mirroring a recent change made by the Village Trustees. The changes impact the bid process, warning for opening bid timing and results, and including those details in the minutes of the meetings.
Murphy has submitted an application, with help from the Regional Planning Commission, for a grant for a micro-transit feasibility study to look at adding supplemental shuttle transit service in the evening.
The town will receive $26,500 in lieu any Class 2 Roadway Grants from the state, which were suspended due to financial impacts of Covid-19.
The Veterans Day parade has been canceled this year as well as the fly over.
The town is continuing to move forward with the town charter. Murphy has been in discussion with a charter attorney to get information on options. The Selectboard was seeking a charter to have the authority to determine whether any particular topic could be voted on through Australian ballot. Schmidt asked Murphy to continue pursuing more information including final costs.
The next Ludlow Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Heald Auditorium, on the second floor of the town offices.