Plymouth sets tax rate, updates on Hawk sale and building renovation

At the July 18, 2022 Plymouth Selectboard meeting, the board discussed the budget available for renovations throughout the town.

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – At the July 18 selectboard meeting, the Town of Plymouth approved their municipal tax rate at 0.5075%. They also updated the town on the renovation project and Hawk closing.

Rick Kaminski discussed how the town-approved budget of $843,000 will now only cover about half of the original town building renovation project design. The estimate is now at $1.5 million, since “materials and labor have gone through the roof.” Kaminski reiterated from previous meetings that the town can either move forward with the previous budget and do as much as they can with the money, or get a bond and complete the whole project as designed.

Kaminski provided some new information on the town renovation project: there is a code requirement. If you renovate a certain unknown percentage of a building, the rest of the building needs to be brought up to code. This would include insulation, ventilation, and accessibility.

The town can move forward with half the project at the original budget, but costs would be greater in the long run. The original heating system design was based on new doors, windows, and wall panels also being done, so it may have to be re-engineered to carry the additional heat load if all of those things can’t be done with the original budget.

To do the full project, the town would need a bond for $800,000, which was originally quoted at a 3.9% interest rate, and would cost the town $60,000 in the first year, and would go down a little each year. The town would save $15,000 in energy efficiency costs however, bringing that overall payment on the bond to $45,000 in the first year. The two options will be on the November ballot for the townspeople to decide.

Chair Jay Kullman gave an example, saying that if you owned a $250,000 house, your taxes would increase from $1,268 to $1,329 if the bond is approved by voters. He added that the Woodstock school is looking to increase tax rates to raise funds for a renovation to their building, which will also impact Plymouth taxpayers as part of their school district and supervisory union.

The pending sale with Hawk Resort International, LLC that was supposed to close July 1, 2022 has been confirmed for a new closing date of July 29, 2022. The town has a signed contract with the purchasers to be paid in full for all of the back taxes owed on those properties, known as the Valley Floor, in the amount of $292,586.

The board acknowledged a recent concern with speeding on Kingdom Road, which is posted at 35 miles per hour. With recent accidents, they are suggesting lowering the speed limit to 25 miles per hour in those problem areas. It was also suggested that yellow caution signs be erected with a suggested speed limit of 20 mph posted. Kaminski plans to meet with Highway Foreman Larry Lynds to map the location and come up with a plan to bring to the board for approval.

Kullman opened two sealed bids for the Stickney Bridge project, which includes concrete and electrical work, and restructuring the pilaster pieces and pylons. Cold River Bridges bid $349,600 and Daniels Construction bid $370,000.

A letter was submitted to the board from the daycare at the community center regarding an indecent with a child climbing the six-foot berm, which blocks off the dump trucks, loader, and other highway equipment on the other side. Kaminski said that the area is currently a green landscape, and the town is looking for suggestions for a fence or plantings to better block off the berm and keep the children safe, while remaining aesthetically acceptable. He plans to make a site visit and propose a plan.

The board continues to search for a selectboard clerk to take minutes and keep the town website up to date. Kullman reported that Elaine Pauley offered her assistance, and he respectfully declined her offer explaining that she already does so much for the town. Pauley “stepped up in a time of need when our town clerk resigned,” she took on the role of delinquent tax collector, and “she turned the office around” with a great level of professionalism and integrity. Kullman said that the town couldn’t ask her to take on any more, adding, “I’d like to take a moment and appreciate Elaine for all the work she’s doing for the town with a smile on her face.”

The next Plymouth Selectboard meeting will be Monday, Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall and via Zoom, which will include the official vote and decision on Macawee Pond Road.

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