By: Lani Duke
Property taxes decrease as a result of Act 46
WALLINGFORD—Wallingford property owners received reduced tax bills in mid-August as a result of a lowered education tax, down from last year’s mil rate of $1.429 to $1.3675. That difference means that the owner of a $150,000 home who paid $2,143.50 in education property taxes will pay $2,051.25.
The lowered taxes are a temporary incentive for having agreed to school district consolidation.
Wallingford and fellow towns Clarendon, Tinmouth, and Shrewsbury voted to consolidate in March, forming a single school board to oversee Rutland South Supervisory Union elementary schools and Mill River Union High, the school that will receive middle and high school students from the entire unified district.
City projects bids come in over budget
RUTLAND CITY—City estimates on reconstructing White Pool fell far short of the five bids that were received, all from local contractors, by about $1 million, Recreation Superintendent Cindi Wight told the assembled aldermen Sept. 6, with the lowest at $3.2 million. The construction estimate figures added up to $2.3 million, and voters approved a $2.5 million bond for the project—some already had spent on engineering.
Wight told the aldermen she is working on lowering the pool figures with project engineers Weston & Sampson, a civil engineering firm from Peabody, Mass. Wight commented, “I firmly believe we need to live within our means and make some decisions that keep the integrity of the pool.”
The sole bid for the Center Street Alley project was even further out of budget proportionately. Wight had taken over managing the public space project after the city contract with the Rutland Regional Planning Commission ended, and city crews had already performed demolition there. Estimates for the remaining elements—bringing the alley surface up to street level, paving, and electricity, water, drainage, and landscape installing—added up to an estimated $780,000. The single bid turned in was nearly double that figure, $1.4 million.
About $1 million in federal money has already come in for the alley project, Wight said, noting that some $690,000 remains, administered by the state. Wight must work with the AOT on any revisions to get the project within budget.
There’s more urgency attached to the alley project than there is for the pool. With winter approaching, provision must be made for not only delivery trucks but also snowplows to traverse the alley.
Should the engineers bear some of the brunt of the time lag that underestimating has caused? Alderman Chris Ettori wondered. He suggested that some of the money paid for professionals to create project estimates should be refunded. “We paid them money to come up with appropriate bids,” he objected.
The Weston & Sampson firm has not been charging the city for its time while it works with Wight to resolve the discrepancy, Wight said. City Attorney Charles Romeo is planning to review the contracts.
Continuous sidewalk engineering project gets underway
WEST RUTLAND—The town of West Rutland received a $820,000 Safe Routes to School grant in mid-August, a project to begin with surveying and gathering data in the field. Once the data regarding planned sidewalk segments on Campbell, Clarendon, Fairview, Ross, and Thrall streets is assembled, a public meetings will bring in local resident input.
Federal grant programming has come through a 2015 VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian Program grant. It is intended to complete the town’s safe, continuous pedestrian network, connecting multiple destinations. The project totality includes 3,305 feet of five-foot-wide concrete sidewalks and granite curbs at some of its segments.