Rutland City discusses local option tax
City Treasurer Wendy Wilton urged the Board of Aldermen consider a local option tax that would fund liability payments to the city pension fund. Wilton proposed the city retire its city charter provision for taxing meals, entertainment, and lodging, while expanding the 1 percent entertainment, meals and lodging tax to include retail sales.
The city plans to pay off and close its pension fund while sending new employees to the Vermont Municipal Retirement System. Bringing in another revenue stream would cover pension liability costs without additional reliance on city property owners, Wilton said May 15.
Not all the city’s aldermen favored presenting the idea to the finance committee, the Rutland Herald reported May 16. Opposing sending the proposal to the committee were William Notte and Christopher Ettori. Notte said a discussion on the local option tax sends the wrong message to the state, that Rutland favors increasing taxes, while Ettori said a decline in downtown businesses indicated poor timing for suggesting a retail tax proposal.
Board President Sharon Davis broke a tie on whether to send the proposal to the committee, saying that she was no fan of the local option tax but that she did not object to its discussion.
If a local option tax were to be enacted by using the state’s regulations, it must be approved by both the imposing legislative body and also the city’s voters.
Aldermanic committees keep city business moving
The city’s aldermen do far more than meet every couple of weeks for an evening. Recently, the highway, finance, and public works boards were among the aldermanic groups that kept the business of the city moving along.
May 10, Attorney John Bloomer told the board of highways that completion of Forest Park Drive was being held up because the board needed to sign the quitclaim deed, have it notarized, and then record the document.
The board approved the recommendation, moving the Rutland Housing Authority a step closer to getting grant funding for phase three of the project.
The board of finance recommended the entire Board of Aldermen approve R. Parker Enterprises’ bid of $559,7978.60 for Killington Avenue sidewalk construction and Russell Construction Services’ low bid on the White Pool Rehabilitation Project. However, City Treasurer Wendy Wilton objected to the May 10 recommendation, saying the project that the contractors had bid on is not the $2.6 million project which the voters approved in March 2016. The city had failed to monitor the project, resulting in an altered project that lacks permanent restrooms and showers, she said. “Therefore it is not a replacement of the current facility,” she wrote in the letter she presented to the board of finance. The board also recommended purchase of a new $494,605 fire truck.
City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen asked for a “revisit” to the subject of HVAC units. The police station has been having problems with its current system. The board asked Purchasing Agent Sara Magro to consider drafting a Request For Proposal to study the way the city should budget needed improvements.
The public works committee has been collaborating with the mayor, public works commissioner, and city engineer to draft a document that would implement a Complete Streets program across the city. City Engineer James Rotundo explained the draft Complete Streets guidance document to the committee and others present at the May 17 meeting. He outlined how it will be used to help meet Act 34 mandates, passed in 2011. The legislation requires that all users, regardless of age, ability or preferred mode of transportation, be considered when planning, designing, building, and maintaining roadways and sidewalks.
Available online, the document will be presented in a public hearing June 15 at the Courcelle Recreation Department, 16 North Street Extension. After the Department of Public Works, Recreation Department, Rutland Redevelopment Authority, and Police Department review public comments and make appropriate proposed changes, the final draft must yet receive review and approval from the city board of highway commissioners.
The public works committee also met May 11 in the classroom of the Rutland City wastewater treatment facility on Green Hills Lane. Because the committee lacked a quorum, no motions were made nor votes taken.
Those present discussed the possibility of building a new digester facility. Possible construction sites are the current wastewater treatment facility or on land next to the Green Mountain Power facility.
Development company Sophance has indicated it is willing to invest in an anaerobic digestion facility, possibly replacing the current anaerobic digestion process at the facility. That approach would enable using areas occupied by the current digester to increase combined sewer overflow capacity.