Woodstock will spend nearly $2.7 million in spending from surplus funds to finish the Comeau town offices project, set aside money to repair or replace the youth center, make upgrades to the recreational courts at Andy Lee and Rick Volz fields, make repairs to the HVAC system at the highway garage, replace aging plow trucks, and other assorted items.
All except the Comeau funding received unanimous approval.
Supervisor Bill McKenna proposed setting aside $1.4 million in surplus for the $2.9-million renovation instead of bonding a million dollars instead of using $1.9 million in reserves as previously planned.
“I was under the impression that we were going to follow the will of the voters on this and use the million dollars that they had directed for us to use for this,” council member Bennet Ratcliff said. “I mean, we all voted on it as citizens and taxpayers it passed overwhelmingly. And it’s a million-dollar bond.”
“What we talked about back at the end of the year is that I put it to the board, that we had two options,” McKenna replied. “The people didn’t demand for the bond. They gave us permission to bond, and I made a recommendation to the board at the time, that due to the fact that we didn’t assign any of these funds last year, and the fact that we had a banner year with sales tax and mortgage tax.”
His recommendation, he said, “was that we not borrow for the money, which would cost us over $300,000 over the life of the bonds, but that we use fund balance to do this. A majority of the board agreed, and so here we are.”
Ratcliff said he didn’t know that the board was carrying out the will of the people. Others disagreed.
“This is democracy. Though, Bennet, so we’ll have a vote and if the board doesn’t want to…” McKenna said.
“Throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars away on interest that we don’t need to pay seems not fair to the voters of Woodstock,” council member Laura Ricci said.
Ratcliff, a political opponent in the June primary and often a critic of McKenna’s fiscal recommendations, did agree with other spending, including $200,000 toward renovation or replacement of the youth center and $100,000 for recreation courts.
“I would love to be a part of figuring out exactly what that what that will look like. I think this is an excellent opportunity to talk about what we envision all of our not just courts, but all of our parks to look like,” Ratcliff said.
The board unanimously approved $100,000 for repairs to the highway garage HVAC system and $20,000 for to establish a town composting program.
“I think this is a great idea. I’m so glad that we’re finally putting money towards composting. I salute you for getting this on there and getting us moving forward on this,” Ratcliff said. “This is something that I’ve worked on to try to obtain a grant on and one of the things that we didn’t have was we didn’t have the infrastructure and we didn’t have the cooperation that we would have to have for composting. So I’m really thrilled about this, and I’m thankful that we’re doing it.”
The board also approved $125,000 for replacement of aging underground fuel tanks that may pose an environmental risk.
“Parts are hard to get, they’re breaking down a lot,” McKenna said. “And they’re also becoming somewhat of a potential for leak as well. So that’ll get us all new tanks and readers and put it in the cloud and do all kinds of other wonderful things.”
The board approved $650,000 from the highway fund surplus to replace two of its fleet of six aging four-wheel-drive plow trucks used to clear the mountainous areas of town. “These are required, particularly since these some of these routes are long, they need to hold more a substantial amount of sand. The oldest one is a 1998 and the newest one, I believe, is 2003 or 2004,” McKenna said. “We can no longer get parts for any of these trucks. We bought a used one that didn’t run as a parts truck, so that we could keep a couple of them on the road.”
To replace the entire fleet would have cost around $1.8 million.
“The thought is we would purchase two this year. They will not be delivered until 2025,” McKenna explained. “So we’ve got to keep our fingers crossed. Once those two come in, we’ll take two off the road. We’ll have some parts trucks that hopefully will keep the others limping along. But it’s also the expectation and recommendation that we continue to make another purchase, and maybe the next year make another purchase. But that’ll be for a future board.”