Wed, Feb 15, 2012 01:38 PM
Growing budget an irritant
Rutland voters have a promise from Chris Louras, mayor of the city,
that a NO vote for the city's 2012-2013 budget will lead him to
"start with" trimming City Hall's planned disbursements. Those
dissatisfied with the budget as written, are reasoning that since
the budget apparently can be lower, smaller figures should have
been his starting point.
The group Rutland City Watch points to a high percentage of vacant
properties and a dwindling population, both in terms of city
residents and of public school enrollment. Other points of
contention are increases in city employee health care costs and
non-profit requests, salary raises for all city employees and
department heads and a paving contract and a bridge bond to be paid
Two new police officers added to a department already 1.15 percent
larger than the national average ratio, new employees in a
recreation department losing $1 million a year, and an
"out-of-control" school budget also are among their
The form of the budget presentation also angers some taxpayers.
Other communities receive a listing of expected revenues with their
budgets, they say, a format that helps them in making informed
New Rutland Redevelopment
After several months on the job, new Rutland Redevelopment
Authority executive director Brennan Duffy recently updated the
public on what's happening at the RRA. Created as Rutland City's
economic development arm, the organization was set up to reduce
residential homeowners' property tax burden, redevelop
dilapidated/blighted structures, revitalize commercial and
industrial sectors, and generally encourage economic
The RRA has an updated focus; Duffy says, specifically on grant
administration for the city, blighted property redevelopment,
expanding the grand list, downtown designation maintenance, and
city planning coordination and representation.
About 150 properties in the city are vacant, some residential and
some commercial, excluding properties that are for sale, under
renovation, and used seasonally. Vacant properties are a cot to the
city, he explains, not only in reduced property values, additional
maintenance expense, and falling municipal revenues from associated
tax delinquency. As vacant properties decay, those pose added
dangers, becoming illicit activity sites, and fire and safety
hazards. The RRA is working with the Rutland Region Planning
Commission, Board of Aldermen, and city officials to create a
volunteer committee that will create a formal process for
remediating blighted properties and to write an ordinance covering
compliance and enforcement.
The RRA is encouraging redevelopment of the former Armory at 15
West St. so that its future use creates jobs and generates taxes.
The planned Energy Innovation Center holds great promise to "aid in
the commercialization of renewable energy, efficiency and
environmental technology products and lead to future associated
businesses calling Rutland home, Duffy states.
He is also highly aware of the importance of aiding existing as
well as developing businesses in site selection, financing, job
creation incentivizing, and work force training, plus other types
of encouragement for investing or reinvesting.
He sees a number of encouraging signs: the new Casella Waste
Systems facility, retail shop openings, the Center Street Alley
project and the new Community College of Vermont.
Thanks for the
Central Vermont Public Service for donating its used 15-passenger
van to the Boys and Girls Club of Rutland County, and to TD Bank of
Rutland for providing secure, convenient parking for the van. Also
thanks to Awesome Graphics for design and production of the van's
Train service improved
Repairs plus new track and ties for Vermont Rail Systems (VRS) have
enabled the Amtrak host to move up status from poorest performing
to one of the best. Travel time between Rutland and Whitehall, NY,
is 15 minutes faster.
In December 2010, the Ethan Allen Express ran a total of 11,068
minutes behind schedule; in December 2011, the number had dropped
Ridership is up too. The stretch from Albany to Rutland gained
1200-plus riders October to December 2011 above those figures for
the previous year.
$750,000 in track repairs had already been planned, with a
late-October completion, but the timetable was in for a change once
Tropical Storm Irene blew across the state. VRS suddenly had not
one, but three company lines damaged by flooding, with 11 miles of
track lost; five bridges damaged severely, and track washed out in
111 places. Having repair supplies and workers already on the site
enabled VRS to start track work earlier than would have been
Congratulations to new owners
Linda and Scott Kuiken for their purchase of Sal's Italian
Restaurant & Pizzeria, 148 West St., Rutland. Sellers were
Jerry Kyhill and Nick Ronfeld. Kyhill and Ronfeld are continuing to
own and operate Sal's in Wallingford.
24-hour eatery downtown
The Yellow Deli on Center Street now serves breakfast five days a
week, bringing its hours up to 24 hours a day, five days a week.
Run by the religious community The Twelve Tribes, the Yellow Deli
closes for the weekend at 5 p.m. Fridays and re-opens Sundays at 5
Although the Denny's restaurant on South Main is the only other
24-hour restaurant in the area, there are a number of other
eateries that serve breakfast, including the Rutland Restaurant and
The Sandwich Shoppe on Merchants Row; and Café Terra on Center
Street. Sabby's Pasta House, also on Center Street, recently began
opening Saturday mornings for breakfast. Another breakfast stop and
coffee shop may soon open in the former Clem's spot on the corner
of Center Street and Merchants Row, according to Mike Coppinger of
the downtown Rutland Partnership.
Don't park there, either
The KeyBank building's parking lot is off-limits for after-hours
parking, property owner John Kalin recently announced. Violators
will be- and have been - towed. Only KeyBank customers and tenants
are permitted in the lot.
Increased unauthorized use of those spaces has crowded out
employees of the building's tenant Home Service Store, who often
work past what may be deemed a normal closing time.
The conflict has mushroomed beyond filling employee parking spaces
too. Unauthorized vehicles have been parked in handicapped spaces
and in the bank's automated teller lane.
Utility updates info online
As Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service prepare
to merge, they've launched a new website - www.gmpcvpsmerger.com -
to keep the public informed. It includes information on the merger
benefits package, and a calendar that highlights the steps toward
merger as they take place.
Half the necessary approvals have already taken place, with five
more to go.
Rutland library second in e-checkouts
As the use of electronic literature grows across the community,
Rutland Free Library patrons are busily checking out more and more
electronic files. During 2011, Rutland checkouts of e-books and
downloadable audio grew to 2,166 items, second highest in the Green
Mountain Library Consortium, second only to Brooks Memorial Library
Learn to download content to an eReader in a Friday, Feb. 28 demo
at 6 p.m. The library offers a number of other free downloads,
available for use on desktop computers, mobile devices, tablets and
Rent a garden
The Rutland City Recreation Department starts registration for
community garden plots off Woodstock Avenue, behind McDonald's and
on Allen Street next to the Rutland Middle School/High School Allen
Street campus on March 1 for city residents (non-residents
registration begins April 1). Users pay a small rental fee and a
refundable cleanup deposit. Call Cindi, 282-1092, to find out
Looking for Chess Mates?
The Charles Edgar Memorial Chess Club meets Tuesday evenings from
7-9 p.m. at Godnick Adult Center, 1 Deer St (intersection with
Woodstock Avenue). All skill levels are welcome; membership is
free. Find out more by calling 773-1853.
Friday, Feb. 17 - Local Audubon representative Roy Pilcher
discusses Vermont's Wilflowers: A Birdwatcher's Appreciation, at
the Osher institute for Lifelong Learning, Godnick Adult Center, 1
Deer St., 1:30 p.m. Call 492-2300 for info.
Friday, Feb. 17 - Cirque Mechanics: Boomtown! fuses acrobatics,
circus arts, machines, slapstick, and magic set in mythic 1865
mining town Rosebud. 8 p.m. Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St.,
Rutland. Tickets: 775-0903.
Monday, Feb. 27 - Annual meeting of Rutland Natural Resources
Conservation District, US Department of Agriculture Service Center
Conference Room, 170 S. Main St., Rutland. 9:30 a.m. Topic: The
Effects of the 2011 Spring Floods and Tropical Storm Irene on Water
Quality in Lake Champlain. Pre-register by Feb. 20 by calling Nanci
McGuire, 775-8034, ext. 17.