Happy New Year! After two trying years, we are hopeful that 2022 will bring us better days.
I find it’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after the holidays, but when I reflect on all the good work happening around town, I can’t help but feel motivated. Our team is hitting the ground running this first month, and building on a great end to last year.
Celebrating Good Times
There was much to celebrate in December with the holiday season upon us. We hosted our much-anticipated tree lighting in person on Saturday, December 4. The event included a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, an ugly sweater contest, hot cocoa, cookies and carolers. We’re happy to say it brought great cheer to all!
We also hosted a holiday lights parade with 20 decked-out vehicles and our annual winter home-decorating contest. Our mailboxes were stuffed with 156 letters to Santa this year – a 50% increase from the prior year. We were happy to help facilitate the mailing of these notes directly to the North Pole.
Although the holidays are over, we look forward to continuing the celebration this February with our annual Winter Festival. The festival will be smaller than in years past, with COVID safety measures in place. Some fan favorite events will resume this year, including the cardboard sled race and Friends of the Library chili takeout. More information on the event will be available online and in the recreation department’s brochure on January 28.
Winter operations continue, albeit with a bit less snow than usual.
Last month our team cleared downed trees, cold patched potholes, repaired trucks, and inspected our bridges, culverts, guardrails and retaining walls. New guardrails were installed along Lake Road and Rollin Irish Road, and a multi-year town paving plan was drafted.
Our sewer plant is running well, and waste-water samples continue to meet high standards.
We are still out-sourcing Biological Oxygen Demand samples for testing due to the dissolved oxygen probe that broke this fall. But we are happy to say the new probe should arrive this month.
Remembering Our Friend, Dustin Keelty
On a sad note, our friend Dustin Keelty lost has battle with ALS and passed away on Tuesday December 21, 2021. Dustin was the former Highway/Buildings and Grounds Supervisor and served for many years on both the fire and rescue departments. Dustin served in the role of Captain and daytime duty officer on the fire department for most of my tenure as Fire Chief.
With a big smile on his face, Dustin always provided common-sense leadership to the roles he served within our community. He was an exceptional public servant to this community for over two decades. Prior to his passing, the Selectboard named the new Town road to be constructed as part of the Town Green “Keelty Crossing” in his honor. Dustin will be missed dearly but will never be forgotten.
In the Town Offices
The Town Clerk and staff are keeping busy with birth and death certificate requests, helping residents at the counter, and aiding researchers with land records. In between the day-to-day tasks, our team has also been at work updating the land and cemetery databases, as well as voter registration.
Last month our Planning and Zoning Department processed permit applications, continued digitizing records, and drafted sign regulation recommendations for the planning committee. Visioning work was also completed for a downtown project adjacent to the future hourglass park. The team looks forward to welcoming its new part-time planning and zoning officer, Drew Bulfer, this week.
The Library continues to serve patrons both in person and via curbside pickup. Adult Book Discussion, Teen Space, Indoor Story Time and other programming continue in person, with masks required at this time.
In mid-December we held our annual tax sale.
Two properties were up for auction. One property sold and was quickly reclaimed by the original property owner.
Work continues on the annual report, project planning and updates to the town website.
The FY23 budget discussions wrapped up in December with the Selectboard finalizing the proposal on December 15. I am happy to report that, based on our best estimate, the budget proposal residents will vote on March 1 will not result in a tax increase. I encourage you to visit our website to find more details about the FY23 budget proposal and the proposed Public Works Facility.
Quarterly water bills went out this week.
Watch for your bills in the mail over the next few days. Payments will be due on February 7, and you can pay in several ways, including mail, drop-box and even online through the town website.
We are always looking for ways to communicate better with Milton residents.
We recognize that not everyone is online or engaged on social media platforms, so we are making an effort to find ways to communicate better through a combination of both offline and online communication channels. Where possible, we would like to use existing tools to avoid large additional expenses, like postage.
In the water bills that we just mailed out, you will notice a folded insert with information about the proposed new Public Works Facility, which will be up for vote at the Town Meeting in March. We know that not everyone receives a water bill, so we will also plan on other forms of communication to reach more residents. We would love to hear your ideas for budget-conscious forms of offline communication that we should be considering, so we hope you will share your thoughts with us. In the meantime, you can always sign up for text or email notifications from the town at miltonvt.gov/notifyme.
As always, we hope you and yours are keeping safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing you in our offices and around town soon.
Don Turner, Jr.
Town Manager, Town of Milton
Follow the Town of Milton, VT Facebook page for ongoing updates.