Voters authorize Buckland Selectboard to sell old Police Station, pay snow and ice deficit

Buckland Town Hall at 17 State St.

Buckland Town Hall at 17 State St. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 11-29-2023 12:13 PM

BUCKLAND — Fifty-eight voters approved all five articles on Monday’s Special Town Meeting warrant, including proposals to sell the former Police Station and to use $62,484 in free cash to pay the snow and ice deficit.

Town Administrator Heather Butler indicated the biggest vote to come out of the meeting was approval to pay the snow and ice deficit for fiscal year 2023. With this vote, Butler said the FY23 accounting books could be closed on Tuesday, allowing for the town to be on schedule to issue property taxes. The tax rate will be set in the near future, and tax bills will be sent to residents in early December.

“This keeps a healthy cash flow,” Butler said.

Snow and ice is the only line in a town’s budget that the state allows to run into a deficit, with the expectation that the deficit will be made up in the next fiscal year. According to Buckland Finance Committee Chair Larry Langford, many of the invoices for snow and ice removal were received after the fiscal year ended.

The town also unanimously voted to increase the fiscal year 2024 Wastewater Treatment Facility budget by $40,000 to complete an emergency roof replacement at the 16 Gardner Falls Road treatment plant.

Butler said contractors were contacted on Tuesday and the roof replacement will be scheduled soon.

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“We will get that done in the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Another unanimous vote authorized the Selectboard to begin the process of selling the former Buckland Police Station at 69½ Conway St. The building, which was constructed in the 1950s and used to house the offices of the hydroelectric company that proceeded Great River Hydro, has been mostly empty since the Buckland and Shelburne police departments merged over the summer. A regional health office is still housed there.

Selectboard members indicated they do not plan on becoming landlords and they hope to sell the building to an interested party at a reasonable market rate. Great River Hydro, which owns the dam directly next to the building, and the Community Health Center of Franklin County have already indicated they are interested in buying it. Butler said Tuesday that two other parties have also come forward to express interest. It is assessed at about $421,400.

The Selectboard plans to have its first listening session about residents’ vision for the building at its next Selectboard meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Members invite residents to share what criteria they hope will be included in the bidding process.

“Every possible use will have positives and negatives for the future of the town,” said Selectboard member Joan Livingston.

Two zoning bylaw revisions were also approved at the Special Town Meeting. Voters voted 55 to 3 to amend a bylaw limiting the number of days a person can live in a trailer. The wording has changed from 60 consecutive days to 60 days in any 12-month period. However, due to confusion relating to definitions of trailers versus mobile homes, the Zoning Board of Appeals plans to bring clearer language about the difference between the two to a future meeting.

Voters also approved amending the floodplain bylaws to better align with the regulations with the National Flood Insurance Program. This includes adding a floodplain administrator, a role to be held by Butler. The floodplain administrator’s responsibilities include overseeing proper permit applications, coordinating with departments and other communities, and maintaining records relating to the floodplain.

Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.