Proctor sets water/sewer rates, VAST gets OK to build bridge


PROCTOR — In a short but fast-paced meeting, the Proctor Selectboard approved water-sewer rates for the new fiscal year, renewed its contract with the Rutland County Sheriff’s department, appointed a cannabis control board, and granted the Chittenden Dammer’s VAST club permission to build a new bridge on a section of the Proctor Water Trail.

Doug Todd, of the Chittenden Dammers, made a presentation to the board describing the proposed bridge replacement, which will be done this fall. Because the trail is on land owned by the town of Proctor, the selectboard had to OK the work. The selectboard told Todd they were all in favor of the proposed fix, and of the work the VAST clubs do to maintain the system’s trails. Todd thanked the board and said he’d keep them up to date with photos of the bridge replacement.

Town Manager Michael Ramsey briefed the selectboard on the town’s right of way situation with trees along the roadsides, noting that they had discovered several lots where trees were growing on the town right of way, rather than on residential property. Because this could impact potential road activities in winter or summer, Ramsey said the town would be sending out notices in the near future to discuss possible solutions with those residents.

As part of the manager’s report, Ramsey noted that the Beaver Pond Committee is planning to make a chainsaw-carved statue of a beaver out of an 8-foot-tall tree stump at the pond, and also work on etching a more noticeable wooden sign (similar to state or national parks) identifying the picnic area at Beaver Pond. Local resident Jim Moore has agreed to do the wood carving of the beaver.

Board discussion also focused on the southern end of the pond, which has a sandy beach for swimming. Because the pond is also a popular place for fishing, a current sign suggests that people who are fishing near the beach move elsewhere when people are there to swim. “There’s just 10 degrees of the lake dedicated to swimming and the other 350 degrees of the shoreline can be used for fishing,” Selectman Tom Hogan said of town’s directive, adding it’s a commonsense directive that will hopefully be satisfactory so more explicit measures don’t have to be put in place.

Ramsey also updated the board on town water delinquencies noting that about 70 households were currently 120 days or more delinquent in an amount over $750. That totaled about $140,000, Ramsey said. That represents about 10 % of the town’s approximately 700 households.

Ramsey said he has been researching how other communities handle such delinquencies, noting that Rutland just shuts people off when they are past due, “but I know we’re not Rutland, we’re Proctor, and we can do things differently,” he said.

Board Chair Judy Frazier said she thought part of the town’s problem is that in the past when agreements were broken, they were just rewritten, rather than having the town take stronger measures.

“I think the weakest part of this past arrangement is that in the past when an agreement was broken, nothing was done,” Frazier said. “We need to make agreements (to help), but if they (homeowners) break it, that’s it.”

Ramsey noted that state aid was available for eligible residents who can’t afford to make utility payments, and while some residents have taken advantage of that help, not everyone who qualifies has applied. He talked about various possibilities of helping residents with that process, but no concrete plan was pursued.

In other action, the selectboard:

  • Discussed paving of Florence Road in coordination with the town of Pittsford, which should happen sometime toward the end of July.
  • Discussed a sewage backup on South Street, with Ramsey noting that while it was a complicated project that went across a number of individual residential lots, he thought there was a fix that wouldn’t be too expensive and would like to pursue options. “Anything we can do to get sewage backups down is a good thing,” Hogan said, a general board comment giving Ramsey the go-ahead to pursue action.
  • As part of the town’s hazardous mitigation plan, Ramsey also got approval to apply for a grant to fund a generator that would temporarily power the pump at the Field Street well, which is the town’s water source, if there is a power failure. The fund would be a 90-10 split, with the town only picking up 10% of the cost, which is a “real good deal for the town,” Ramsey said.
  • Heard from Ramsey that he had submitted an invoice based on reimbursement for the Railroad Bridge Water Line work the town had done prior to Ramsey’s hiring. The invoice would be for $15,000, which would flow back into the town’s water fund, Ramsey said.
  • Heard that Proctor’s swimming pool was “hopping” this past weekend, and Ramsey noted the article in the Reporter last week on the pool that drew lots of local attention. The “pool,” which is a man-made pond that’s about 20 feet at its deepest, is seeing a lot of vegetation growth, Ramsey said, suggesting that the selectboard might want to consider strategies in the next budget cycle to curb some of that growth.
  • Heard from Ramsey that he had been getting a lot of calls about mosquitoes, and noted that the mosquito district’s spray trucks have seemed to be spraying more than usual, according to comments he has seen.
  • Renewed the annual sheriff’s contract for $87,360, which would provide 40 hours of weekly coverage for the year.
  • On a motion by selectman Benjamin Curtis, named the selectboard as the town’s cannabis control board, just as it is the liquor control board. “It’s something we should do,” Curtis said, noting that state statute dictates most things, so the local control board just has to deal with the local formalities.
  • Set the town’s water and sewer rates for the upcoming fiscal year at $525 annually for each equivalent user in a household for water, and $475 annually for sewer rates per equivalent user. That rate was slightly down for the sewer and remained the same for water as the current year.
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