Selectboard Meeting Notes – I See Those Rates and Raise Them , Too

selectboard may 7 2024

The Brattleboro Selectboard is contemplating just how much to raise Utility rates, specifically the cost of water. Rather than a 1% increase in FY25, they are thinking of raising it 5%, and 5% every year until 2030. But, it might go up even more because of the new expert study of utility rates they will commission for $75,000.

In good news, all the major roads of Brattleboro that the state has a hand in will be repaved in 2025-2026. And the Charter Commission is taking a deep dive into all sorts of issues related to Town Meeting and asking for your input.

Comments | 8

  • Preliminaries

    As is often the case in this modern age, they start late. It’s 6:20 before they actually get started.

    Chair Daniel Quipp – thanks to Elizabeth for chairing the last two meetings. I was out of town for a death, then was sick. I watched them on video. It was great. A couple of things about last weekend. A great first Gallery Walk to kick off the season – a new mosaic is planned for Pliney Park. I thank John Potter for preparing the event with Jim Baker at SIT the other week. A meeting with numerous community partners and a powerful day. A reminder that I’m still new and it helps if you raise your hands if you want to speak.

    Town Manager John Potter – a number of things. First, the Town will be using OpenGov financial software for the next Utility billing cycle and there are some improvements – online access to your bill, paying online with a credit card, a copy of the bill emailed to you, and over time, you can track consumption of water utility period over period. Town staff will keep people posted. Dog licenses are still available. After June 4th, fines may occur. People can request August primary absentee ballots now. The symposium last week – Jim Baker and Sue Graff planned it. Thanks to state agency folks who came down, and others. Town will hold first committee fair at the library. Reps from various committees will be there, people can apply, all at the library. Want to help? Contact Ton Manager’s Office. Town IDEA committee will hold a Juneteenth week art event. Town really wants to hear about trash, recycling and compost in our online and print surveys. Deadline is May 17th at noon.

    Liz McLoughlin – the committee fair – could it be warned so more selectboard meeting members can go?

    Potter – if you attend and don’t talk or make decisions you can attend.

    Richard Davis – will OpenGov do all those things for all their bills from the Town?

    Potter – working on it!

    Franz Reichsman – I’ve been holding office hours for people to talk to me. For the first time, I won’t be there the next two times. Don’t show up. I’ll be back the week after next. I’l talk about community safety event at SIT which was excellent and a new opening to discuss all this – about what it means to be safe in Brattleboro. Wow held off on that since last summer, delaying and waiting for this turn of events. Now that the conversation is reopened I hope people will be vocal.

    Liz – Franz doesn’t have the only avenue to discussing with the public – we’re all available to discuss and get in touch with if you choose.


    Rikki Risatti – I’ve been working on a proposal for poison ivy removal along the Hinsdale to Brattleboro walkway. The area is a flood zone and to prevent erosion we could invest in sustainable landscaping. Poison ivy is for people and dogs, not just itching, but ripping claws, too. It’s a construction zone and the ticks have increased . That area is owned by Hinsdale and we would appreciate it since there will be increased pedestrian traffic when closed to cars. There are over 30 licensed herbicide contractors. One company got back to me – under $1000 and they filled out the permit. The main highlights would be to use two applications on the left hand side for a few days. … any questions or comments.

    Daniel – we did get your email with your request and have asked Patrick to reach out to Hinsdale.

    Patrick Moreland – I did.

    David L – I would impose the Town as it works with Casella to retain a robust recycling and compost program as we go forward.

  • Consent Agenda

    A. Tobacco License – Super 8 Convenience Store

    B. Parade Permit – AIDS Walk Fundraiser

    C. Municipal Finance Yearly Questionnaire


  • SEVCA Board of Directors Brattleboro Appointments

    Daniel – before we discuss this, this is my employer. I don’t report to the board of directors. I am a lowly middle manager.

    Potter – we received this request to appoint John Couleur and Kevin Kennedy, both Brattleboro residents, as representatives to the SEVCA Board for the public sector.

    Franz – we remember that this was on the consent agenda and I asked that it be removed. I did that because there are some wording problems that led me to be confused and it came up in an unusual way. The letters we received recommending them say that they will be represented as the Brattleboro Selectboard representatives. Then it says they are public reps and they’ve already been appointed but need to be approved by a public body to meet the criteria for public representation. What they are asking is that we give our blessing to put them on the board as public reps. We should approve it and these people seem qualified to serve on the board.

    Daniel – anyone from SEVCA to speak on this? No. More discussion?

    Liz – I’m in favor. SEVCA has appointed them because they live in Brattleboro. Other towns have reps who live in their towns.

    Daniel – public? No.

    approved 5-0

  • Charter Review Commission Update

    Daniel – we’ll have some reps here to join us

    Kate O’Connor. I’m the chair, here with Peter Elwell and Denise Glover. Every 15 years the Charter has to be reviewed. In 2022 7 people were appointed and we’ve been working ever since. Since October and upcoming is what we want to discuss. We’ve discussed regular open town meeting and representative town meeting. WE’ll be talking about procedures for RTM, but also the districts. Maybe we should do it by neighborhoods, talk about a line item veto of the budget, how people get on the ballot, and lots of topics to go through Thursday night. In June, on the 20th, we’ll talk about the finance and human service committees, and talk about Capital Grants Review board. In Jul we’ll discuss work that Peter and Denise and Joy are doing about charters in other towns.

    Peter – I reiterate public participation in our process. We hope for more, especially on the issue of RTM vs open town meeting. We want to hear any ideas people have to share. Three of us are reviewing other Charters. Under VT statute – some places that would be special districts elsewhere are municipalities in VT. Some are for wastewater. Dozens of others are more like what you think – 252 towns and villages – and about 1/5 have a charter of some sort. We are interested in what is in each of those. Progress is slower than expected. Actively in the work right now.

    Kate – one thing we haven’t figure out yet, but soon, is what out timeframe is. It can’t go on forever. There is process when we are done… it has to go to town meeting, plus public info meetings, and then to the Vermont legislature. It won’t be done next week. It could be be 2025 or 26. Don’t want to go past 2026 election day. We’ll come to you to warn a special meeting next year. Take part now by zoom or in person.

    Daniel – any comments or questions?

    Liz – thanks for your service.

    Franz – anything you want from us?

    Kate – we will have a discussion about the selectboard. Your former Chair had some ideas about the role of the selectboard. We will be asking you about that eventually, other than what Ian mentioned to us.

    Daniel – There was an email to town meeting members. Send again for these?

    Kate – yes – Patrick is super helpful to us to send it out.

    Daniel – line item veto?

    Kate – if you go now, town meeting members can’t cross out a single item in a budget. It’s all or nothing. It’s unknown – not written anywhere you can’t line-item veto… it’s’ been a practice. My father as town moderator, he did it. It’s not written anywhere, though.

    Peter – Bob Fisher has attended most of our meetings. His advice has been helpful to us. He’d say there is some case law that applies. Our moderators have been saying this on advice of lawyers. In those moments, if RTM members are very clear, and they want to cut $100k, under the law RTM can’t remove that item, but Bob says woe unto the Selectboard that disregards RTM’s advice.

    Kate – trying to clarify things.

    Liz – it was frustrating for RTM members to not have as much say in the budget. We have many meetings here and more RTM participation would be the way to go. The Congress makes a budget and the President doesn’t have a line item veto.

    Franz – Pandora also had a budget. Once opened, town meeting never ended.

    Kate – none of us are advocating for anything – we’re going through identifying things to look at. Not with an agenda to do anything. Some things have come from the public. We’ll get better at it. Haven’t made any giant decision yet.

    Peter – we spent one year collecting info, then 4 months working with that info, agreeing on what we got and what we need. Not quite there yet.

    Daniel – public?

    Frick S – I hope you got the energy committee’s submission (yes). As a citizen, I was wondering if you came to this work with the Charter as it is, or starting from scratch.

    Kate – looking at what we have…

    Peter – we are doing more than just looking at the charter and tweaking it, we are considering things not in the charter.

    Frick – people tried to get the right of recall in there last time to hold people accountable. I am a big fan of RTM as it is. A fantastic example of democracy at work. Thanks for disclosing the SEVCA connection. I thought you’d recuse yourself. Appearances.

    Franz – Super nerdy here, it isn’t quite true that RTM can’t reach into budgets under current rules. Rather, some motions at town meeting have specific numbers in them, and anything in the motion can be amended. When there is one single big budget you can’t reach into it. You can change the other articles. It’s a procedural matter as to which town meeting has direct access to.

    Daniel – thanks!

    Kate – May 16 is the next meeting.

  • BDCC Economic Update

    Daniel – this is a substantial report.

    Adam Grinold – before we get into this report, let’s highlight what isn’t is it. The silent things that go unknown. Economic development is under the hood and the data isn’t always there . The mission of BDCC is to invest in levers of the economy for southern Vermont to thrive. We help employers with employees, gap financing, etc. Three years ago we focused on the loss of a business – Vermont Bread – we worked closely and supported two companies. The jobs were gone. We’ve spent three years trying to reactivate that space. Two weeks ago we purchased the property – the space is available – and to emphasize the long game of what we do.

    Jen Stromson – other things not in here. Aashna is a returnee to the region and she’s helped us run the numbers. Some things not in here are big things about the economy. Not everything is tied with national trends – changes in the paper industry, for example. Some data has a big lag on it. We look at some manufacturing data – we’re doing fairly well in the region. But it is a change. When I say positive things, there are also downsides. We have to pick our battles about granularity. Vermont has higher education data – highest level of graduates, but consolidation as well. They are national trends. They affect Brattleboro and your neighbors. Some other changes in the last few years – 300 refugees have come in to southern VT. The pandemic had an effect. We are part of a multi-state economy. There era plates from all three states at manufacturers. Parts of this are meant to be educational, about where we go for data. There are some drivers of change that we are trying to get at – demographic changes, changes in labor forces? We hold the strategic plan for the region. Try to take a 5- 10 year view, so your kids can have good jobs. Lots of it is long and slow, and sometimes it doesn’t work. The CEDS is a renewal year- it’s being redone this year. We’re doing stakeholder engagement, then public information gathering. Data is being created right now by CEDS consultants. I found interesting and surprising: the changes in child poverty and housing – older wealthier people mask what is going on. Labor force losses are on us with aging population. Not enough to replace them all. A forced recession – recessionary push. We have jobs at risk if they are empty. Brattleboro’s role in the region – the local option tax to invest in yourself as a hub, has most of the multi-resident housing in county. Good place to live without a car! Town plays a unique role for a wider variety of people than a bedroom community. Job diversity and acidity is a gift to the wider region. We also expanded the tax section – looking at concerns about the Grand List – normalizing for inflation, you.. the Grand List is important for your budget. If it can’t keep up with inflation, you are doomed from the start. We spend a lot of time and energy about how things get spent, but not how it gets generated. Try to talk about generative activities. You can make stuff nicer, add new stuff, or hope the market rises. The first two you have control over.

    Liz – thank – a lot of information here that the Serlectboard needs to know. All of us will digest this. There is a lot of discussion about the purpose of economic development. You have a line here: the residential section of the Grand List pays the majority of the taxes instead of the commercial properties, and part of the goal is to rebalance that equation.

    Jen – in MA, we can split taxes. It is expensive to do business in Vermont, and get more from them by levying more taxes. We try to stimulate the companies to grow and do improvements.

    Adam – we try to work with Town staff to see what it used to be like…it used to be that the Grand List was supported by the commercial Grand List – every time that goes up, it is off the back of the residents.

    Richard – when I reviewed the budget for the first time, the imbalance even got to me even as a non number person. One of the first ideas is that you can’t squeeze more out of people living here, so we need to attract new and larger businesses to town. In my imagination, a fantasy, say Amazon called and liked the location and wanted to put a fulfillment center her. The people working there couldn’t find housing and we wouldn’t have the labor force. WE can’t accommodate a big new business?

    Adam – god points – what is success. Now, when we can’t measure it by creating new jobs, it is on quality of jobs, and a life cycle of jobs. Can a region with a fixed number of individuals accolade a new firm- yes! If they are good jobs they will attract people to the area. All jobs are important. If a new company comes here, we can help them fill those positions through a variety of techniques.

    Jen – yea, I’ll contradict ourselves. We are here to help Windham County – if someone leaves NH to work here, that’s a win. We can compete in that way. And wage growth. We lost well paid jobs with Vermont Yankee, and we were already lagging behind.How are we doing compared to Franklin and Cheshire counties? We’re on par at this point. We’ve had more population growth. Little bits.

    Adam – a location quotient was used to show how many people work in a field. You can identify a good location to move to. Knowing how to find that is good for an employer considering the region?

    Richard – there’s an idea business size?

    Adam – all of them!

    Jen – we need them all. We are diversified. We don’t rely on one big employer.

    Frick – the report is available where?

    Jen – on our website

    Frick – my issues with workforce are skill sets. I’d urge anyone to try to support the trade schools and apprenticeships and get kids away for screens and put a hammer in their hand and get them doing something. Get them out of the basements. We’d have robust workforce. Does anticipating refugees for climate or political issues – we could get overwhelmed by that without planning for it.

    Jen – I can’t talk about housing.

    Adam – contribute to CEDS. Info on our website. Our newsletter will inform you.

    Jen – in June look for public stuff.

    Franz – Is Brattleboro a good place to start, run, or grow a business – in reality and by reputation, and can the board help?

    Daniel – you can put it in writing to us.

    Franz – I didn’t see that question in your report. I hear complaints or praise. If that were available, especially what can be done, I’d like to hear it.

  • Summer DPW Work Update

    Potter – DPW…

    Dan Tyler – it is an ambitious list but we think we can do it. A lot of our infrastructure knowledge and budgets and grants go into planning, plus other projects going on around town. We added some new Open Gov asset management data. Last fall we learned of Vtrans plan next year 2026-207 will pave all Class 1 roads in town (all the main ones). Western Ave has been 20 years. Main St has been 15 years. So we want to get ahead of those projects. Don’t want to cut up their new roads. We emphasize sidewalks – Vtrans will do roads but not sidewalk improvements. Worst is Western Ave so we’ll have sections out to bid. We’ll do some other work ourselves throughout the Class 1’s. Other areas of sidewalks in neighborhoods – Swedesville, Oak Grove… those areas we can do ourselves and need to be paved. Set them up for years to come. One other section of Western Ave sidewalks is really bad near Greenleaf – we don’t have the budget and resources to do it ourselves. Could use some capital paving money – $250k – it is hard because roads need paving. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come often so we want to get as much done before they pave. We will do some paving and crack sealing. We have applied for some grant funding for Class 2 paving. Lower Birge Street is bad – we’ll loo at repaving that neighborhood. Other stormwater improvements, designs for new walls and bridges, a bunch of utility work in these neighborhoods – some work on water and sewer lines and general maintenance. Pleasant Valley should wrap up in the next month. WWTP has summer maintenance cleaning and fixing. A lot here. Darren’s list outlines each project and gives more detail.

    Daniel – thank you to you both. Darren wrote the memo.

    Liz – the list is really clear and easy to understand. Do you hire summer help? (Positions are available) How much done by DPW vs contractors ? (the larger sidewalk work and paving projects… it is a pretty good split.) Can you explain why it is easier to do sidewalks before paving?

    Dan – they will pave right to the carbine – they will pave to our new curb if it is there. But if we go in after it won’t be as well sealed because we open it up. More potholes.

    Darren – we want to put curb in in some places.

    Liz – what about the Western Av bike lane and striping? How will that pan out when the state paves?

    Dan – that was a scoping study through VTrans with lots of community input – we implemented it too fast and it was incomplete – we will repair it all this summer. The old lines are work off. Ewe need to give it another chance. Vtrans is look at it. They may make suggestions.

    Daniel – I drove earlier today and noticed some striping on the bike lanes – that is great. The rough texture in the middle is rough and seem like you are in the wrong place in the road.

    Richard – are these list prioritized? (no?)

    Dan – our fiscal year and work year doesn’t align. We may get to some next spring.

    Liz – the Birge street area really is a new park…

    Franz – one item is the Williams Street wall repair – I thought it would be part of the envisioning project. It might depend what happens with the parking lot and VT Contry Deli – are you really ready to go ahead with this?

    Dan – ideas were looked at for the stability of the road it needs to be repaired regardless. A FEMA grant has been applied for. The board allocated fund, but FEMA will cover 90% if we get it.

    Franz – that section of the Whetstone brook is beautiful – there is a pipe running through it, but it is picturesque – the wall that has been there has blocked visual access. Could you let us see it more clearly.

    Dan – the bank is too shear for a viewing area. You can look over but not a viewing area per se.

    Daniel – thanks to you and your team!

  • Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance, First Reading (

    Daniel – a first reading to hear about it and comment.

    patrick Moreland – a proposed change tonight – alcoholic beverage section – to provide alcoholic beverages on public property. There can be an exemption for special events if the Town Manager signs off. They had a beer tent at Gallery Walk this weekend, for example. We’re coming back again. We want restaurants serving meals on sidewalks to be able to serve wine or beer with dinners. Town Attorney says this ordinance doesn’t cover it. I said the event was dinnertime. He didn’t buy it. The changes here are to allow the Town Manager to allow them at events or for a restaurant for a period of time. Public place no longer includes school-owned property. We won’t issue a license to school properties, but it removes that option from consideration.

    Liz – thanks. Is it clear that the consumption is tied to meals? food?

    Patrick – it is not written in that way, but it depends on the judgment of the Town manager. WE concluded as management team that events have worked out, so if a restaurant serves a meal out from that we didn’t have any objection to serving drink with a meal.

    Liz – the protection of children and minors – the prohibition of open carry in Brattleboro. It’s not normed. I’d like it to mention meals, so we don’t have a series of bars on the sidewalk.

    Franz – at Gallery Walk -if there wa s beer tent, was food served? Was it required? If there are cases that have been reviewed where food might interfere with the plan?

    Patrick – I didn’t attend Gallery Walk. Beer and food were served at the event, but I don’t know if they were eco-served.

    Peter case – so Gallery Walk – we’ll serve beer and you can walk around and get a hot dog if you want, but the beer person doesn’t have to serve food, but at a restaurant downtown that wants tables outside, will they have a drink with a meal? Or will Town manager need to give permission every night.

    Patrick – it could piggy back on the liquor license and be an annual …

    Peter – if we approve it they wouldn’t need to bother the Town Manager every night.

    Patrick – it would be annual.

    Liz – my understanding is to do that, but I want to make sure alcohol without food is not allowed.

    Peter – I see your concern. I’d have to think about that. I know open air bar shouldn’t be a thing.

    Liz – a meal, then a drink with the meal. I want to avoid alcohol without meals.

    Peter -w ant a drink only? Go inside…

    Daniel – you removed schools from “public places” – is there something about how liquor license are issued? What are we trying to achieve?

    Patrick – restaurants have outside consumption permits on their properties. There are none on public properties. There is a restaurant that wants to serve food on the sidewalk, and there is room. They want to serve beverages with the meals. It doesn’t address Liz’s point of someone just ordering a beer.. up to you to discuss.

    Franz – personally I’d like to go drink a beer. There are lots of laws. I’d be okay without including it in the ordinance.

    Daniel – at second reading we’d like to hear more about outdoor consumption. Current permits cover their properties?

    Patrick – this wouldn’t be about that. It would then include public lands rather than just what they owned.

    Daniel – lie Hermit Thrush’s beer garden during COVID? (yes) And Liz wants meals also served as a provision. Others?

    Peter – I’m with Franz, which is terrifying. Two adults can have a beer on a nice night. We are focused on the small amount that upset that rule. Food can be part of the stipulation.

    Potter – permits are revocable – if it doesn’t work out we can revoke the permit.

    Liz – so responsibility lies with the license holder.

    Peter – okay, I’ll say two responsible adults can have a drink without food.

    Daniel – public? Okay for second reading? OK. Five minute break!

  • Proposed FY25 Utility Fund Budget

    Patrick Moreland – it will be a bit of a team effort. I’ll introduce the budget, then Dan Tyler will talk about Caprial, then I’ll take it up again, then we’ll talk Utility rates. The proposed budget has an increase of revenue of 1% – $ 6million+ . That is what our ordinance calls for. It raised $600k+ . So a 1% increase in revenues. On the expense side – it is a 7% increase, $468k+. Where is that increase? It is not in salaries and benefits.

    Daniel – isn’t it $393k+?

    Patrick – current expenses are increased $468k… it is possible there was a last minute addition a day ago. I may have missed that in my edit of the memo. The increase in cost is $468k+. Where is that in the budget? It isn’t in staff salaries and benefits. Thy get their increases, but as older more expensive employees retire we hire younger less expensive staff. At water treatment facility we promoted a n additional water chief operator to focus on the new plant. For 2-3 years we’ve had two chief water operators, and that project is about to come to a close. There is a decrease in staffing and benefits. Also a reduction in heating costs – only one plant to heat now. The major increase is in operating expenses. It is a variety of reasons – one is the cost of sludge removal has gone up over $109k. Also, as we completed the general fund budget for FY25 there was a reduction in liability insurance, but a corresponding increase in the utility fund. Previous finance directors split out liability by size of budget – Kim realized we should do it by where the assets are and that’s in our Utilities. Up by $178k. Cost of using OpenGov is going up. Utility billing drives up costs. One thing earlier this week, added late in the process, was we’d like to add a $75k engineering expense to investigate our rates. It hasn’t been done since I worked here. Staff do a good job of looking at what we should be doing, but it might be time to bring in technical experts to make sure we position ourselves well in the coming years with a slow and steady increase in rates. So $75k for that. Some other increases are an increased transfer out to cover General Fund services to cover Utilities. We find a substantial deficit – the largest I can recall in the utility Fund – not necessarily a bad thing, but this big will be challenging. Should you be worried about it? There will be action we recommend, but no need to panic. The Utility Fund planned for a grant of $440k. For part of the water and sewer upgrade at Exit 1. It wasn’t received in FY23 as planned. It got delayed. We know we did get it in FY24. There is going to be an additional $440k all but offsetting this deficit. It’s not a house on fire situation. Dan?

    Dan Tyler – Capital plan spreadsheet looks similar to other years. You can see the carry forward. Money we budgeted in the past that we haven’t spent yet… projects we haven’t been able to get to at the water treatment plant, there is money set aside for the Putney Road expansion, there is the phase one Utility Project but we are waiting for the state. It’s about a million higher than last year. We’ will bill for Hinsdale Bridge work. We’ll get the retreat pump station wrapped up. Some are annual maintentance funds – we’ve had a hard time getting meters since the pandemic so we are behind there. We will carry forward money each year but will get some done. The next column is FY25 – the money allocated corresponds to projects we allocated for. No new projects – Wilson’s Woods is a new project – the only new project. Our fleet replacement program has been in place for a while, a WWTP equipment replacement, a backtruck to share… so a lot of these are familiar projects and nothing really stands out as new. Further into the plan there isn’t as much details – water and sewer mains are a line item. We have a separate list of those projects where you can see the increases – the majority are water main projects. Flow data analysis of our system shows there are areas with decreased flow, corresponding to older infrastructure. New water lines are cement line, old cast iron lines are not lined. Buildup occurs and reduces flow. We have a list, have divide the projects up, but try to replace them as close to the schedule as we can. Sewer line projects are smaller and easier for us to do ourselves. There could be other projects that come up. That’s the high level…

    Patrick – start with questions?

    Daniel – the deficit and why we shouldn’t be so concerned. This is grant we applied for and received later than we thought. We have received that money? Where does it show up?

    Patrick – in current FY24 year to date – not in this documentation. In a finance report.

    Daniel – does the utilities budget show it is $00k better>

    Porter – no budget adjustments mid-year, so no.

    Daniel – strange that money has been received but is kind of invisible to us.

    Patrick – budget to budget – you wouldn’t necessarily notice. You’ll see it at the close of the fiscal year when the fund is audited. Not isn cash reconciliation.

    Daniel – cash reconciliation – I’ll wait on that.

    Franz – I have questions… some about capital expenses . I don’t see how Open GOv spotted the need for new capital? I’m struggling with the increase with expenses and how that interacts with Open Gov and the cash reconciliation … a year ago we were told we could lower rates and now we are told we have to raise rates.

    Dan- no OpenGov – Dufrane group did the analysis. We know there are areas that are old. This is the first time we prioritized them and put numbers to them.

    Franz – so a year ago you planned things with what? without the hydraulic study?

    Dan – we maintained a list – our prices weren’t close. This is new data with new costs and projects what increases will be. Iron pipe has skyrocketed.

    Franz – so it came up as a big increase

    Dan – $18 million dollars.

    Potter -w e feed this into Open Gov and then can project into the future…

    Daniel – the flow data analysis showed buildup… what are the problems associated with that. Is it dangerous? health and safety?

    Dan – all of the above. The new main is 1952 and the old one is early 1900s. We have a max demand in town – none are regulatory concerns. Buildup leads to pockets for grit to be.

    Liz – one pesky question – the $75k for a rate study. The state has been generous. Is there a grant to apply for?

    Dan – there could be. I’ve reached out to some agencies that could help us.

    Liz – you have calibrated a new model of expenses – that’s where the demand for a rate increase is coming from. We have worked with you to try to understand the rates. Where we are now, last year we chose to be a little bit under and see where it would take us. Now we hear we really need to up the ante – we’ve created a deficit and the financial model is greater than before? Correct?

    Dan – yup.

    David L – re: allocation of expense to general fund. What sort of saving do we see then in the General Fund. Could it be increased with your decision about rates? There will probably will be cost shifting from homeowners to renters in this proposal…

    Patrick – don’t recall l about general fund. As for renters, I’d say…. hmm… so… his analysis. Renters pay water bills, some have it included in their rent. property owners pay property tax, and renters pay it in their rent. Difficult to say.

    Franz – a shift between property tax and utility bills. I don’t think you could generalize as to who is paying.

    Potter – Utility was paying $50k in insurance…would go up to $230k. It used to be done on size of budget but now is done on assets. Insurance is better equated with the assets. Taxpayers were carrying some costs of the utility before. Not now.

    Daniel – second part.

    Patrick – this is the Reconciliation part and Rates. The Utility fund is an enterprise fund to by managed as a business – General Fund is on a cash basis – straightforward. In Utilities we do full accrual methods. You include depreciation, your interest payments to bonds… there are a range of accounting regulations for business Utility. We can work backwards to see the impact of our activities on the cash in the fund. Look at the lower third of page 98. We have a start and ending balance – these tie back to the financial software and account statements at the bank. Start is available cash at that time FY23. We can see the impact of cash reconciliation and adjustments – we have an ending balance of $6.49M – that ties to our bank statements. Start, activities, and ending. Plus one more key thing – a rolling list of funded capital projects unfinished. So we see unallocated cash on hand is $2.3 million. It’s our reserve in the Utility Fund. When problems occur they are expensive, and there is no room for error. It’s the water for the area. Staff wants unallocated cash in case a problem arises. In FY24, the end balance of FY 23 is the start, and the FY isn’t over yet. We anticipated unallocated cash to rise. In FY25, if we proceed on current path and rates, we can see FY25 with $3 million of unallocated cash. After that, though… in the memo, staff have put forward some options.

    Liz – why no sum for capital carryover in 2025

    Patrick – we haven’t gotten there yet… that line is empty. We hope they all are completed, but don’t know.

    Liz – in the previous years it cut the ending balance in half. In this year we don’t know and assume there will be no subtraction, but if there was capital carryover…(it would be added into the ending balance)

    Daniel – I love this budget. Maybe we should take a utility fund budget class.

    Patrick – it is a difficult thing to work through. Reconciliation is complicated. new projects , and their value, mean we’d like some expertise to help us. Options – the question for you to consider is how much cash should we keep on hand for an emergency. Staff said $2 million set aside for a=emergencies plus 3 months operating – $3.6 million then, $3.7m now. Expenses will go up, operating expenses will go up, now we now more about significant projects we need to do and prepare for. New info means a new path forward. Staff has asked if we need to keep the $3.6 million around. Dan pointed out in a real emergency, the capital carryover could be used in an emergency. Keeping around the several million might be asking too much. You could drop below that $3.7 million. Option 1 is to finish the rate ordinance for FY25 at 1% increases. Over time the unallocated cash drops. We think it makes sense for a 5% increase for years 2026 -30. Should we do it sooner? Option 2 is…

    Daniel – Option 1 has 1% increase in FY25 then 5% after…

    Patrick – with the additional expenses – 5% will lead to a dwindling cash balance. We don’t recommend it.

    Franz – that’s due to compounding. The only place the drop can be going from is the FY25 1%. I’m surprised it is that large year after year,

    Daniel -I’d like it double checked.

    Patrick – a rate increase sooner means a substantial impact. Option 2 has 5% each year from FY25 to FY30 and you see a more reasonable cash balance. The third option – what if we wanted to maintain the reserve – 6% each year comes fairly close to that, but don’t see it as the recommended course. Do number 2 – 5% in FY25 then 5% after if the consultant says that’s ok.

    Daniel – board?

    Franz – On my iPad I have last year’s material for setting rates and I have trouble figuring out why the unallocated cash on hand is so different from what was projected a year ago. It was projected that end of a FY24 of $4.383 million and we actually got $3.9… so there’s $400k missing from the projection.

    Potter – it is a couple of things – Open Gov purchase partly paid for by Utility Fund, plus delayed grant receipts. That’s the difference.

    Franz – ok, if the money we didn’t;t receive will show up eventually in FY25 budget, we should see it…

    Potter – we don’t see it in FY25 – in end of FY24 you’ll see it.

    Patrick – the additional funds are arriving in FY24

    Potter – the audit at the end of FY24 is where we’ll see it.

    Franz – so options will look different in a matter of months… it’s got to somehow.

    Patrick – when we crafted FY 24, FY 23 wasn’t done yet. These numbers are projections, not yet audited fiscal years.

    Richard – with the 5% option taxpayers take a hit now but until 2030 it will stay that way.

    Potter – that is our projection but we want to do the rate study so hedge on it a little bit – it could change.

    Richard – so the expert would help clarify it.

    Dan – they might look at different rate structures.

    Peter – projections happen all the time. I have well water feeding into the sewer. – I win. My well went unexpected and it failed. If I gradually saved for that rather than one big check. Well has a 10 year guarantee on it.

    Daniel -we resist this each year and set rates for 5 years, so these five year ordinances are looked at every year. I wish we had a little more confidence in the future.

    Liz – the study will bring that…

    Daniel – and costs keep increasing, year after year, so what we need to keep in reserve will increase. Future select boards will look back and say how foolish they were.

    Liz – no, how prudent we were to do a rate study!

    Potter – so, as far as the board is concerned. Level of interest in one of the options?

    Peter – is option 3 adding 1% to mitigate some big break in aline somewhere?

    Liz – I don;t see a need for that before karate study.

    Daniel – Option 2 and 3 on the table, preferring #2…

    Franz – I need the calculations of option 1 walked through.

    Daniel – yes, and shared with the board. So option 2 and 3?

    Richard – Option 2 is reasonable.

    Daniel – okay Option2 and see the math of option 1. Public? It is 9:13. This agenda was a little hopeful in its time estimates. We’ve given some direction.

    adjourn 9:15p

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