The Mountain Times

°F Mon, April 21, 2014

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Voters seem split on bond votes

CASTLETON-As the election nears, Castleton voters seem undecided on how to resolve their varying views on town government offices. The select board is against renovating the town office building, but a proposal to do so is on the Nov. 6 ballot. One of the concerns with the renovation is its price tag, $1.2 million; a new building with greater square footage would cost less. Voters, already feeling tapped out, would be unlikely to vote for an additional bond to build a new fire station, also sorely needed.

But March voters voted against building a new $2 million combined town office and fire station on Route 4A, and a citizen petition asked for renovating 556 Main St., with a $750,000 bond and the rest of the cost to come from foundations and grants.

Voters now will vote on a pair of items: one a $750,000, 20-year bond; the other, asking the board to look for $210,000 more, from other sources, over the same 20-year period. If voters approve these two issues, the select board has said it will proceed with the renovation project.

There's a high probability the Donchian foundation will provide $240,000 for the project, bringing the remodeling cost to the town down to $960,000. Renovation proponents say that renewing the historic structure opens the door to future governmental moneys for accessibility and other improvements to historic structures in the community. The renovation project would be complete inside a calendar year, saving money that is currently being spent on office rental.

A postcard survey yielded a 30 percent return. Hard to say whether those results really predict the vote, since returns are nearly evenly divided between renovating 556 Main (51%) to locating town office functions elsewhere (49%). One-fifth (21%) would include the police department and fire station; 21 percent say not to. Now the story's outcome depends on the result of the vote. Wait and see.