2011 was a year in which the Selectboard continued to deal with necessary long-term issues such as major infrastructure work. We also further refined some of the administrative aspect of day-to-day town operations. We changed some of the vendors that serve the Town in order to obtain better, more efficient and effective services and products.
Though the winter was mild, we still believe we can see real savings from the energy saving insulation and lighting projects done the previous year on town buildings. The solar PV system at the Town Offices has performed better than expected, and produces more electricity than we are using at that building.
The gravel crushing project, funded through a Warrant Article this past March, turned out quite well. Your highway department was able to reduce this year’s budget because of the availability of stockpiled gravel for the town’s roads.
Our selected bridge engineers, Dubois and King developed recommendations for the replacement of the South Road Bridge. We also took a closer look at all of Harrisville’s bridges, and investigations at the 85-year old Busy Brook bridge in Eastview led us to further testing at two other bridges of the same age.
As always, we worked hard to keep the base operating budget as flat as possible. This was especially important this year because we find it necessary to recommend some major spending in special Warrant Articles. The biggest issue we are facing is financing the necessary bridge work.
Between repairs on several bridges and the replacement of South Road Bridge, we need $720,000. The Selectmen will be recommending a bond approach. We propose to withdraw $150,000 from the Bridge Capital Reserve funds; with the balance raised by a 10-year bond for $570,000. We believe this will require a $60,000 appropriation for taxes this coming year.
We also recommend construction of a salt-shed on Town land. Whether we add $50,000 to the Buildings Capital Reserve for the future or raise $50,000 and withdraw $150,000 from Capital Reserve, we believe this is likely to be a $200,000 project.
A recommendation from the Fire Department is expected which will move us toward a contracted ambulance service at a cost of $9000. We understand this to be an emotional topic, but believe the time has come to consider such options to provide a higher level of service.
A warrant article regarding the Land Use Conversion Tax asks that we change the distribution from 100% to the Conservation Fund to 25% of the revenue to the Conservation Fund and 75% to the General Fund.
We remain appreciative and thankful for the ‘regulars’ who continue to volunteer their time, and are happy to see some fresh faces on various Boards, as we sought to broaden the base of participation. We also appreciate all the Town’s employees for the consistently strong work ethic they demonstrate. This year, we thought it would be nice to put as many of their faces as we could on the cover of the Town Report, since many of you may not get other opportunities to connect names with faces.
Jay Jacobs, Charles Michal, Seth Kallman