Manager's Message is a monthly column written by Don Turner, Milton's town manager.
As April begins, it is nice to see snow tires being swapped out for summer tires, parks being used for recreation and to hear birds singing in the soon-to-be budding trees. After a long dark winter, and it is nice to see the sun more often and welcome spring.
We are pleased to have Kristin Beers, our former Assistant Town Clerk, now serving as Town Clerk. With her old post vacated, we began the search for a new Assistant Town Clerk in mid-March. We were very fortunate to have received forty-five applications for this position. Kristin performed multiple rounds of interviews and offered the position to a well-qualified longtime resident. I look forward to introducing her to you in next month’s message.
Despite changes in the Town Clerk and Treasurer’s office, the transition has been very smooth with no interruption in services. Our team has been busy finalizing the transfer to a new online records system, collecting payments for water, sewer and taxes. Delinquent water/sewer collections are down from last year, but higher than the eight-year average.
We also wrapped up March with dog registrations behind numbers from the same time in 2020. The Town Offices are open by appointment only to the public at this time, but dog registrations and renewals may still be completed by mail – using the 24-hour drop box out front, or by email. Applicants should provide payment for the license and a copy of their pet’s most current rabies certificate. Once received, we will process the license and mail back the completed license and tag.
Our library remained closed in March, but we had plenty of curbside pickup orders for books and other materials. It has been said that a library is the heart of a community, we are happy that despite changes ours is still beating strong. We continued to serve free lunches to Milton kids under the age of 18 in March, and hosted many virtual programs. It is incredible to see all the hats our librarians wear these days, including director and editor as they record virtual story time and activities to post online. We are planning for the reopening of the library to residents soon.
Our finance team has been busy closing the books for March, process payroll, process an AP warrant and calculate and mail all utility bills. It may be a short list, but it is a lot of work! They continue to work on updating procedures, providing information for audits (worker’s comp and TIF) and getting things prepped for our FY21 financial audit.
In the Assessor Office Amy and Lori continue to research/enter transfers and perform inspections for permits, and update all information in the grand list. The Town reappraisal is progressing as planned and I anticipate it to be complete in late 2022.
John Bartlett completed the municipal lobby carpet project on time and well within the budget. It looks great! John has been advocating for these much-needed updates during the budget process during his tenure. The municipal building is now 24-years-old and is starting to show its age especially the mechanical systems. We must make annual investments in our facilities to ensure the long-term vitality of these assets.
I would like to congratulate Sergent Paul Locke for receiving the Drug Recognition Expert of the year award from the Vermont Department of Transportation. Paul’s commitment and dedication to ensuring the safety of the traveling public is admirable and I especially appreciate the effort he puts forth to ensure the roads in our community are safe for our family and friends. Whether he is working within the community or teaching at the Police Academy, Paul always represents the community and our police department with a very high level of professionalism. Congratulations and thank you Paul!
Police and rescue calls are on the rise. Many of the emergency calls for service are-related to mental health crisis. Our partnership with the Howard Center has been helpful but these types of calls are very demanding on our resources. On another note, our back-up ambulance was recently replaced with a loaner. Our ambulance had a significant electrical failure, with a new ambulance on order I could not justify making an expensive repair to the old ambulance.
In other planning and development news, building permit and project development activity has picked up dramatically with the warmer weather. The planning commission voted to send its proposed edits to the town’s Unified Development Regulations before the selectboard later this month.
As for outdoor spaces, our Conservation Commission and Recreation Department are conducting a natural resources inventory study that will examine potential recreational uses for a 109-acre property surrounding the Lamoille River Walk.
While March left our public works teams in winter ops mode, we also began preparations for warmer weather and maintenance projects around town. The Water Departments River Street Pressure Sustaining Valve Replacement project went to bid, and we are happy to say that we will be receiving a 75% state subsidy to help with the project. Dave and Kirsten in public works administration have been extremely busy, submitting grant applications, developing work plans and completing a number of important reporting requirements including the annual MS4 storm water permit.
Looking outside, things are quite brown now. However, we have our sights set on greener pastures, with spring and summer activities soon upon us. I look forward to seeing you out around town. Thank you!