Brattleboro board to talk bridge, G.S. Precision project and trash

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BRATTLEBORO — Taking a break from budget talks, the Selectboard will tackle Elliot Street bridge repairs, the G.S. Precision expansion project and trash disposal.

In September, the Agency of Transportation told the town it would replace the deck and railings of the bridge. Using the Accelerated Bridge Program will allow for scoping, design and construction at only a 2.5 percent matching cost to the town. The project is expected to be completed during summer 2016.

Different alternatives will be presented Tuesday by Department of Public Works Director Steve Barrett and VTrans Project Manager Jennifer Fitch.

"We have already established the right-of-way in this complicated intersection and have almost completed the tree clearing and trimming," Barrett mentioned in a memo to the board. "Utility companies have been closely involved to approve the relocation of poles and the fire department has a procedure in place to relocate the fire alarm lines."

Brattleboro expects to receive a $1 million Community Development Block Grant for an Exit One Industrial Park expansion project. The town hopes to sub-grant those funds to the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation which will keep G.S. Precision's 323 existing jobs in town while creating 100 new ones.

The manufacturer makes high-precisioned machined components and sub-assemblies for industries related to aircraft engines, aerospace, medicine, fiber-optics, automobiles, speciality bearings and other commercial purposes. Brattleboro's Development Review Board recently approved a one-floor addition to the company's site at John Seitz Drive as well as several other projects designed for the coming expansion.

The future of the business staying in Brattleboro was at one point questioned when G.S. Precision began wondering whether there was room to expand as planned. Moving operations to New Hampshire seemed possible.

Town Manager Peter Elwell is recommending the board approve a $200,000 loan for G.S. Precision with a seven-year term at a 3 percent interest rate. Payments would be made monthly.

The board approved of using the town's revolving loan fund in September but terms were needed. The project is looked at not only as a way to keep the company in Brattleboro but it will also "mitigate the economic setback felt within the region" by the decommissioning of the Vernon-based nuclear plant Vermont Yankee, according to Elwell.

A real estate tax stabilization agreement will come before the board. The valuation would be fixed for 10 years in anticipation of new improvements coming in 2016. That would cover the municipal tax assessment at 35 percent of the fair market value, but not the education property tax. The deal will involve the property owner Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation Real Estate Holdings, Inc.

"These terms represent the maximum benefit available to an applicant of Brattleboro's tax stabilization program," Elwell said. "The structure of the agreement reflects staff's assessment that the project solidly addresses the goals of the program, advances priorities in the Town Plan and delivers impressive economic benefit to Brattleboro."

A business personal property tax stabilization agreement also coming before the board would fix the tax valuation of G.S. Precision's new equipment being purchased in 2016 at an assessment of 25 percent of the fair market value over a 10-year term. This too will need the BDCC's blessing as they are the taxpayer in the real estate agreement.

Approximately $4,775,000 is expected to be spent on the new equipment. The stabilized value of the business' new personal property would then be $1,193,750.

According to Elwell, the town and the BDCC have a "history of strategic partnership" on economic development projects going back several decades. In the early 1980s, the groups collaborated to create what became known as the Exit One Industrial Park.

"Similar to our role in the present day effort, Brattleboro acted as the municipal applicant and in doing so secured an Urban Development Action Grant for $1.4 million. The funds were made available to BDCC for a project designed specifically to attract and facilitate industrial development in a defined location with supportive zoning and easy access to the interstate," Elwell wrote in a memo. "In 1996, the town and BDCC amended the original loan repayment agreement with loan forgiveness, keeping open the possibility that the town revolving loan fund would benefit from the net proceeds of the sale of future lots."

The Selectboard will be asked Tuesday to approve the sale of several properties related to the project. G.S. Precision would pay $107,930 for two parcels that include a pond and $60,000 for a parking lot. No net proceeds are expected.

Also on the agenda is solid waste. The board will consider cost saving recommendations that would reduce curbside rubbish collection to once every week and see recyclable materials disposed of through single stream. The board could use its six votes on the Windham Solid Waste Management District Board of Supervisors to support a budget that will discontinue the materials recycling facility and the recycling collection programs.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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