Board finalizes utility fees (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard has decided upon a fee schedule for its utility ordinance, eliminating two fees in the process.

The board passed the ordinance in December, but postponed a decision on the fees until this month. The ordinance regulates the placement of utility lines on public rights of way.

“The ordinance allows for the Selectboard to adopt fees or change the fees as they deem necessary without a public hearing process,” Town Manager Rick McGuire wrote in an e-mail to the Observer.

At its meeting on May 3, the board passed a fee schedule that charges $100 for a permit fee, $100 for an inspection fee and a fee of $10 per square foot of pavement or concrete repairs.

Those fees had met little opposition during the process, though representatives from utility companies have argued against fees for green space and directional boring, which were proposed at $1.75 per square foot and $1 per linear foot respectively.

Jim Condos of Vermont Gas Systems appeared before the Selectboard on May 3 to reiterate those arguments. Regarding the fees for disrupting green space, Condos said that Vermont Gas is already required to repair damaged areas.

So-called “trenchless technology” allows utility companies to install lines underground with horizontal boring techniques. Williston’s fee on boring would have been the first of its kind in the state. Condos said that any extra cost to Vermont Gas Systems would be transferred to customers through a rate increase.

Beth Fastiggi of Fairpoint also attended the meeting and told the Selectboard she agreed with all the concerns raised by Condos.

Bruce Hoar, the town’s director of Public Works, argued that assessing fees could cover future costs to the town, such as repairs to broken lines.

Ultimately, the Selectboard listened to the concerns of Condos and Fastiggi and approved a motion to do away with the green space and boring fees.