Town authorizes $8,000 for land purchase

Vote means board won’t need to use eminent domain

By Ben Moger-Williams
Observer staff

The Selectboard on Monday authorized $8,000 of town money to be used to purchase a piece of land needed for the town’s new fire station.

Monday night’s Selectboard meeting ended with a 30-minute executive session, after which board members and Town Manager Rick McGuire emerged and announced the approval.

“A purchase price has been set,” McGuire said.

The land, a wedge-shaped parcel at the corner of U.S. Route 2 and Talcott Road, is a crucial access point to the town’s proposed fire and rescue station. The piece is so important that the board last month voted to authorize the power of eminent domain – buying the land without the owner’s consent – if necessary to secure the parcel.

The town voted to authorize eminent domain because it had to gain approval for its plans for the fire station from the Development Review Board last month. Approval would have been impossible without the piece of land.

Rick McGuire has been negotiating for the land with its owner, Taft Farms Village Condominium Association, since June. Monday night’s action means that a deal has been reached, and McGuire said the last step is to sign an agreement to actually purchase the land, which will likely happen in the next couple of weeks.

 Town launches new Web feature

The town of Williston has taken another step into cyberspace. Rick McGuire, town manager and de facto Web master for the town’s Web site, has set up an e-mail mailing list to keep residents informed of goings on about town.

“The Web site is very comprehensive,” McGuire said. “We keep it very up to date. There is a wealth of information on there.”

Subscribers can sign up for one or all of the mailing lists. There are lists to sign up for:

Important dates and events

This list advises the subscriber of events such as Town Hall closings; tax payment deadlines; water and sewer bill deadlines; and dog license deadlines.

Legal notices

Readers on this list will receive information on public hearings and notices of adoption of town ordinances.

Bid notices

E-mails from this list include notices on bids for equipment; vehicles; major supplies and construction projects.

Job notices

If you are looking for a job with the town, sign up for this list. The list will include vacancies in the police, public works, library and other town departments.

To sign up for a mailing list, go to the town’s Web site, and click on the icon “Get E-mail Updates.”

Budget review begins

The Selectboard also began discussing the town’s proposed operating budget Monday night. McGuire presented the board with the budget for fiscal year 2007, which outlines the expenses needed for all operations in the town.

The total proposed budget comes to $6,917,840, which is an increase of about 19 percent over the current fiscal year’s budget.

“The numbers are high, there’s no question about it,” McGuire said.

However, McGuire said, the budget still does not adequately address all the needs of the town’s various departments. In the introduction to the budget, McGuire wrote: “Despite the large increase, the proposed budget does not reflect a level of expenditures that will serve to maintain service quality in the face of increasing demands.”

McGuire said the largest single increase in the budget was for wages, which increased 14 percent over the current fiscal year’s budget. A 3 percent cost of living increase; a proposed full time position for the Fire Department; as well as increased hours for fire, police, public works and library personnel helped fuel the proposed wage increase.