Selectboard discuss highway, recreation departments budgets

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Monday, Jan. 11, the Rockingham Selectboard discussed Highway and Recreation Department budgets.

To begin the meeting, Municipal Manager Scott Pickup updated the board on Windham and Windsor Housing Trust’s proposed changes to the Bellows Falls Garage project. WWHT’s original proposal was modified due to substantially higher construction bids than previously budgeted. There would be further updates related to Community Development Block Grant funding, but Pickup said the project was “not stalled and basically moving forward.”

Highway Department Director Andy Howarth presented the highway paving budget and explained that he needed to inform the Saxtons River Trustees because most of it was in Saxtons River.

Pickup explained they were in the third year of a five-year resurfacing program and the additional request of $100,000 to the budget would keep the town on track for paving and sidewalks. Pickup said this summer the Highway Department would like to dedicate a crew for ditches and culverts but needed to either hire flaggers or fill an empty position.

Howarth said normally Brockway Mills to Bartonsville was plowed by the grader, but that position had been eliminated. This winter they were using the two-ton pickup, a 2002 International, usually only used in the summer for chloriding dirt roads.

Finance Director Shannon Burbela proposed the board levelfund the highway department and said, “Staff will reduce expenses where necessary.” She explained that there were still substantial funds at the end of fiscal year 2020 in both highway and general funds with $725,000 in the highway fund balance. Burbela anticipated an increase to that fund balance as fiscal year 2021 was under budget.

Chair Gaetano Putignano asked if the proposal to levelfund the budget included a full-time development director. He said he was in favor of a full-time position for Gary Fox. Burbela responded that levelfunding the general fund would bring Fox to full-time.

Parks & Recreation Director Ryan Stoodley said there were savings this past year; however, if this summer looked like last, the recreation department “won’t be able to run our day camp.” He hoped to be open this spring, explaining the day camp was a huge loss of income and staffing hours but “in essence we’ll be able to do what we did [last] summer.”

Stoodley anticipated replacing the last third of the pool’s water lines and said the pool was losing water and had to be filled every three to four days. He reported that the vandalism to the ice rink was repaired but suggested a replacement for next year. The cost eight years ago was $2,000. He also reported that the ski tow was running “pretty good.”

Pickup explained that due to the pandemic no one knew what to expect for the summer but they would report monthly after March.

Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 1 and election Tuesday, March 2. The Selectboard meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House and are recorded on

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