SAXTONS RIVER -- Though they were forced to wait for a quorum nearly 25 minutes longer than expected, citizens at Annual Meeting voted unanimously Monday to adopt a five-figure budget.
Louise Luring, the chairwoman of the Saxtons River Village Board of Trustees, made a motion to approve a General Fund budget of $51,450, with $48,930.47 to be raised by taxes. The motion was seconded and passed.
The meeting was scheduled to start at Saxons River Elementary School at 7:30 p.m., but Moderator Ryan Ostebo would not allow it to begin without the minimum (21 citizens) legally required. There were only 18 people present at 7:30 p.m., resulting in the delay. Resident Mike Ghia arrived at 7:53 p.m. to make a quorum.
Earlier in the meeting, each village official up for another term was re-elected, with the exception of Treasurer/Tax Collector William Harmon, who decided to step down after more than 10 years in the roles.
Resident Peter Golec asked what, if anything, has been done to collect the $8,593.24 in delinquent taxes owed to the village by nine people. Trustee Ben Wallace told him liens and tax sales can used if necessary. He also said the village has sought legal counsel on the issue, though it is not in the best interest of the village to use that remedy because it would not be reimbursed any legal fees accrued.
Auditors Charles Ratte and Jim McCaffrey had a few recommendations for the village, including having a certified public accountant conduct an audit at least once every three years to ensure there are no mistakes or misdeeds going unnoticed due to their lack of expertise. The men also advocated for "more aggressive" actions to be taken to collect from delinquent taxpayers and for village records to be properly backed up on a monthly basis.
According to the 2013-14 Annual Report, the village trustees (with the input of state and contracted engineers) have determined that installing a new system within Saxtons River is the best upgrade option for the wastewater treatment plant. A sequencing batch reactor (SBR), which has previously been described for the Reformer as an industrial processing tank for the treatment facility, is less expensive than the option of pipe-lining wastewater to the plant in Bellows Falls.
An informational meeting about the process of engineering, permitting and funding was held on Feb. 8 and Trustee Ben Wallace has said another will be scheduled before a bond vote takes place.
The Annual Report also states the Fire Station Committee has received the donated services of a designer and - with a preliminary design - continues to explore funding options for the on-site replacement of the station.
According to a report from the Saxtons River Recreation Area, the annual fishing derby was resurrected in May and was met with overwhelming attendance. May also held a great "Clean Up Day," with local Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts offering their services. The report also states resident Mike Ghia once again hosted a soccer program, which was opened up to Bellows Falls Central School students and saw a record number of children participating this year.
The report from the Saxtons River Volunteer Fire Department Chief Arthur D. Smith, states there were 49 emergency incidents this year - a slight decrease from last year. He reported there were 10 fires.