BY ANGELO LYNN
PROCTOR — Delinquent water bills were a big topic of discussion at the Proctor selectboard meeting Monday night, as the selectboard and Town Manager Michael Ramsey reviewed the page and a half list of accounts due and what process should be followed to collect before shutting off the water to past-due accounts.
The selectboard said they started the process several years ago — “two town managers and also our second town attorney ago,” said Selectman Bruce Baccei — and, while they had whittled the list down from four pages to less than two full pages, it was still a problem.
The board debated the legality of shutting the water off from delinquent payers (totally within the town’s right), and also of making public the names and/or addresses of those delinquent (it’s part of the public record) and noted that the delinquent list used to be published in the annual town report, but — after some talk of just cutting the water off to anyone significantly past due — opted to do a bit more research and study over the next two weeks before defining a deliberate policy.
The selectboard did, however, let it be known that those residents behind on their water payments would be facing consequences in the near future, so pay up now or enter into a agreement to make payments on the bill — one of the highest is $3,700 — before the water is shut off.
Facing an April 30 deadline to decide whether the town should adopt a standard allowance for American Rescue Plan projects, the selectboard voted unanimously to adopt the allowance that allows the town to use the funding for most General Fund expenses concerning town operations. The allowance was a recent change in how ARPA funds could be expended, allowing towns with less than $10 million in funding to use it for most all town operational expenses, compared to far more limited parameters when the measure was first announced more than a year ago.
No decision was made on how the town’s $476,780 of the federal money would be spent, but the town has until Dec. 31, 2024 to obligate the funds to specific projects and until Dec. 31, 2026 to spend the money.
In other news, the selectboard:
• Reminded Proctor residents that the town would be hosting a dump day for bulky waste on May 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as a day to drop of hazardous waste at the transfer station from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event coincides with Green Up Day that same Saturday, May 7.
• Heard from the Beaver Pond Recreation Committee, who noted the picnic area was now open but Dale Christie cautioned hikers to stay off the trails while they were muddy to minimize damage to them. Christie also reported the docks would be going in soon and that more volunteers were always needed if folks were interested. The recreation committee also reported that the skating rink would be opening for the summer on May 30, and that the skating rink building would be re-stained this summer.
• Ramsey cautioned the selectboard that high fuel costs were being passed on to the town from major contractors such as Cassella’s and for police protection, amounting to over $1,000 per month for just one third-party contractor, and that the town would have to manage for the potential shortfall that would create in the current budget. Ramsey said the administration should be able to manage for that, but that it would need to be monitored closely.
• The selectboard also unanimously approved a facility use agreement policy for town assets like the skating rink, the pool, and the ball fields.
• Initial plans for the upcoming Memorial Day Parade and ceremonies were discussed, as was the preliminary discussion of a town-sponsored triathlon to be held later this summer.
• An executive session was held to discuss the open position for summer pool director, which has so far remained unfilled.