The Milton selectboard met virtually Monday night to discuss three major topics.
Here are the takeaways:
1. John Moore, director of Green Mountain Transit, told the board ridership on the Milton Commuter route has been down 42% since July due to COVID-19.
The Milton Commuter Route provides five round-trip rides to Burlington every weekday.
Despite the decrease in bus riders, in fall 2020, GMT installed a new passenger shelter on the southbound side of U.S. Route 7 in Milton between Kapicia Lane and Pecor Avenue.
In addition, GMT is interested in working with the town to figure out how to continue to provide bus service to Milton’s senior citizens.
Milton seniors are currently provided bus service through GMT and the Special Services Transportation Agency. The Milton Family Community Center contributes about 20% of the program’s necessary funding — about $12,000 — but will be unable to do so for much longer.
Moore said MFCC’s funds for this program are expected to run out by March, but he thinks reducing service to two days a week instead of three will allow bus rides to continue.
Town Manager Don Turner said during the meeting that he was also committed to finding ways to continue this community service.
2. The selectboard came to the consensus that the town would not mail a ballot to every registered voter in March unless the legislature decides the state will pay for it.
As of now, the State of Vermont will not be sending an absentee ballot to every registered voter like they did for the November election. It is up to individual towns to decide how they will handle voting on Town Meeting Day.
Selectboard Chair John Palasik, who is also a representative for Milton in the Vermont House of Representatives, said he believes this Town Meeting Day dilemma will be the one of the legislature’s first priorities when it meets next week.
In the meantime, Town Clerk Sheryl Prince suggested a few routes the town could take, since in March social-distancing is likely to still be necessary.
The town could mail a postcard to all registered voters explaining how to request an absentee ballot, it could mail a ballot to every voter, or it could not mail anything.
Selectboard members generally favored the first option, saying a postcard would be less expensive and would ensure everyone could vote-by-mail if they preferred to do so.
Board member John Fitzgerald spoke up to say he thought the drive-thru election for the school budget in June went well, and asked if it were possible to host a drive-thru for Town Meeting Day.
While Prince liked the idea, she thought it would be more challenging this time around given the multiple items on the ballot and the time that would be needed to fill it out.
No matter what the town ends up choosing, there will still be an in-person election on March 2 for those who wish to vote at the poll.
In addition, the selectboard came to the conclusion that the annual Town Meeting, held on the evening before the election to discuss the ballot items, would be held virtually this year.
3. The board approved Milton Rescue’s acceptance of a Vermont EMS Workforce Stabilization Grant, which will provide hazard pay to personnel for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After Public Safety Director Michaela Foody applied for the grant, Milton received $42,952 from the state to distribute to its licensed EMS personnel who responded to incidents between March 13 and Sept. 15, 2020.
Twenty-eight licensed members of Milton Rescue worked during this time frame, and depending on the number of hours worked, will receive between $142 and $2,699.
Foody said this money is well-deserved, given that so many of Milton’s EMS personnel have been on the frontline for months.