Village Trustees discuss the 2018 budget and police staffing


Bellows Falls sign. Photo by Robert Miller.

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt.– The Trustees Meeting, held in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House, on Oct. 24, 2017 was called to order by Village President Myles Mickle at 6 p.m. At the time of the meeting, 22 of the 29 street box alarms have been removed with the remaining taken down on Thursday. A motion to terminate the Municipal Alarm System was passed unanimously.

When reviewing the FY2018 budget, Municipal Manager, Shane O’Keefe, mentioned that there had been a lot of funds taken out for the fire alarm system that will need to be reimbursed. Ann Dibernado, board member, asked what was anticipated to happen with the alarm boxes once removed and if they are if any value. Stefan Golec and Police Chief Ron Lake mentioned options for the boxes, including value and who may have interest in owning one or more of the alarm boxes. Golec asked if there are any fire departments that may have personal interest in salvaging the boxes. Police Chief Lake answered, “It’s possible. We will put a list together after the project is completed.”

Continuing on with the 2018 budget, the finance office amount decreased by 8.8 percent. The fire department overtime payroll is set for $10,000, and their budget has decreased by 24.7 percent. O’Keefe suggested to keep employees as part-time, including that funds have already been shaved quite a bit. Wastewater funds are distributed at 20 percent of the budget. The village attorney’s pay has increased by 66.5 percent. O’Keefe recognized the attorney, Ray Massocco, for the service he has provided the village.

Deb Wright addressed the speeding issue in the downtown area. “Residents are concerned about their safety due to the recent accidents with the civilians being hit in the crosswalks,” Wright mentioned, referring to an accident that took place recently on Rockingham Street involving a pedestrian. “We need to make a plan. Residents are concerned, and it’s the drivers who are causing concern.”

Chief Lake responded saying, “Enforcement is easy in the square. Twenty-five miles per hour is acceptable. What I need is people who are observing the issue to call and make a complaint. I need to hear from the community.”

The police department will be moving from a ten-hour shift to an eight-hour one, which is the first time the police have been staffed for eight hours shifts in the last ten years. On Nov. 1, seven bid shifts will begin with nine employed officers. Lake intends to keep a tight leash on overtime.

At the beginning of the meeting, O’Keefe mentioned that the sprinkler system pipes have been connected with more information to be available on Nov. 2 about delinquent water usage. There are plans to purchase a designated vendor after reimbursement is done. James McAuliffe moved the motion to revise the sprinkler system policy and it was passed. Insurance coverage has been increased by 9 percent in each category, that being an estimated $625. NVP provides 80 percent of the coverage with plans depending on the needs of the individual. The insurance plans will need to be renewed by December of this year.

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