Rutland OK November 17 Special Town Meeting – The Landmark

By Patricia Roy
Historical correspondent

RUTLAND—TheSelectBoard has approved Nov. 17 as the date for the special town meeting, the week before Thanksgiving, as has been the tradition for several years.

Finance Committee Chair Karen Nahrwold recommended postponing the meeting until the city’s available money can be certified by the state. The finance committee is supposed to make recommendations on terms of reference, but won’t actually know how much money is available for them by the date of the November meeting.

“I’m not very comfortable with it,” Nahrwold said.

Acting City Administrator Gary Kellaher suggested using free cash numbers from last year.

It was suggested that, if necessary, the city moderator could open the meeting and then postpone it to a later date.

The town’s special meeting mandate has been opened for the date of November 17.

Board Chair Carol Benoit proposed that the city take a break from spending American Recovery Plan Act funds, which have been disbursed by the federal government during the pandemic.

Funds must be appropriated by Dec. 31, 2023, and spent by Dec. 31, 2024. All expenditures must be finalized by Dec. 31, 2025, Benoit said.

According to Kellaher, the city currently has just under $1 million still available in ARPA funds, of the $2.6 million allocated.

“We could go through this…in the blink of an eye,” Benoit said.

She wants to spend more intentionally and discuss projects with the capital improvement planning committee.

Kellaher said he understands Benoit’s reasoning, but wonders how the city will handle unforeseen elements.

Board member Lyndon Nichols proposed that the ARPA Funds Committee be disbanded and the remaining funds be frozen and expended on a case-by-case basis.

Many past spending decisions were based on federal guidelines, said Joseph Buckley, director of the Department of Public Works, which has eased since the funds were released. At first, the money was split into specific spending silos, he said, and could not be spent as some wanted.

The board approved stopping all spending until it can assess the process.

In a report to council, town planner and community development co-ordinator David George said there were four active development projects in the town, with Maple Hill Estates closed except for one street. Brice Lemon Estates was due to appear before the Planning Board for street approvals on Phases One and Two at the October 11 council meeting. A hearing will be held on October 17.

The board also approved a special marijuana retail license for 78 Main Street across from Wachusett Plaza.

A special permit has also been granted to the Sentry Oil site, 13 Pommogussett Road, for a car wash.

These projects will help bring a business tax base to the city, George said.

His office is also working on updates to Rutland Heights’ master plan, home ownership and occupancy bylaws.

Michael Sullivan, chairman of the Rutland Development and Industrial Commission, said a written request for a closing date by the end of October was requested in writing by the proposed buyer of part of the Rutland Heights land.

Sullivan said he asked them for a written document of the tasks needed to accomplish this.

“The manager is very troubled by how long this (the sale) is taking,” Sullivan said. Sullivan said that if the weather was good on the closing date, the director would likely start “moving the dirt” then.

The town of Paxton has signed an agreement with the town for animal control services. Police Chief Nicholas Monaco said Paxton made the request because of the city’s reputation for good work in this area.

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