On January 16, 2019

Killington Select Board considers new options for budget

By Katy Savage

KILLINGTON— The Select Board’s consideration to borrow $14 million next year to pay for future costs over a 10-year period has been thwarted.

Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth told the board Tuesday, Jan. 8, that the town can’t borrow the large sum of money up front because the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank requires the town to spend the balance within two-to-three years.

“It has all kinds of legal ramifications – it becomes a nightmare,” Hagenbarth added in a phone interview.

Hagenbarth prepared a 10-year plan for the town at the Select Board’s request.

The $14 million would have been spent on a new public safety building, a new town hall, a new pool at the recreation center and improvements to roadways.

To go from behind other resort towns to ahead of them,“This is what it’s going to take,” Hagenbarth said.

Engineer and scoping studies have not yet been completed for the projects. Board members said the spending timeline changed their minds about borrowing money upfront.

‘“There’s no fluff up there,” Select Board chair Steve Finneron told the audience on Tuesday, explaining the 10-year plan shows only needed expenses. “What we’re looking at now is more of a stepped process.”

The board is now considering borrowing money to pay for some of the expenses next year. The board wants to retire about $2.4 million old debt and pay $1 million to fix roads that have “failed,” including East Mountain Road and Dean Hill Road next year.

The board also considered an article to reinstate the 1 percent sales option tax, which was repealed in 2017, but all three board members said Tuesday they did not want to ask voters to reinstate it.

“It made a little bit of sense when we were trying to do everything all at once but we’re not doing that,” Finneron said.

Killington Resort President and CEO Mike Solimano said the sales option tax burden fell on the resort, which paid about $1.3 million annually.

“We view that as a tax directly on us,” Solimano told the board.

Killington Resort announced a $25 million capital investment this year – the largest in 30 years.

“There’s going to be a whole lot more [investments],” Solimano said. “It’s going to be a lot harder if every time something comes up in town, someone wants to do, they talk about bringing the option tax back.”

In another special meeting on Friday, Jan. 11, Brown Golf Management presented the board with three options for Green Mountain National Golf Course expenditures, which needs about $1.5 million in upgrades over the next five years to stay operational.

The Select Board is expected to vote on a budget for the golf course in another special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 15, after the Mountain Times’ deadline.

Per state rules, the board is required to finalize the budget and article that will appear on the Town Meeting Day ballot by Jan. 24  – 40 days prior to the vote.

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