The Capital Plan Committee assists the Town of Vernon and the Selectboard in identifying large, necessary future capital expenditures and incorporating them into the Capital Plan as part of the annual budgeting process. The committee’s duties are described generally in the Policy on the Administration of the Vernon Capital Plan, found in the Town Report. This year, we are pleased to welcome new committee member Katherine Baldwin to our group and to report two significant developments.
First, during the past year, the Town of Vernon engaged an engineering firm to evaluate the existing condition of all the town-owned buildings and related sites and assist in the maintenance planning for them. Its July 2020 inspection resulted in a detailed report that includes a review of the structural condition of the various buildings and the condition of their mechanical and electrical systems, exterior finishes, and site areas. The report also includes a recommended maintenance plan and a schedule for each facility covering the next 20 plus years. The Selectboard and department heads will evaluate the maintenance/replacement needs. Costs constituting capital expenditures and exceeding $10,000 will be added to the Capital Plan after review.
Second, the money earned this year by the investment of funds currently held in several Capital Plan-related accounts will cover almost the entire amount that otherwise would have to be raised through property taxes this coming year to fund the Capital Plan. The total amount needed to fund the Capital Plan this coming year is $246,201. However, $83,959 of that amount will be covered by income earned from the investment of funds previously appropriated for upcoming capital expenditures, and an additional $1,268 will be covered by money that was previously appropriated, but not spent, for the purchase of a lawn tractor for the Recreation Department. Also, an additional $123,969 of income earned from investment of the money in the Emergency Capital Reserve Fund (ECRF) will reduce the total amount that has to be raised from taxes to $37,005 instead of $246,201.
This is an amazing achievement resulting from a combination of good planning, excellent investment results, and a determination to replace promptly all monies taken from the ECRF for emergency capital expenditures. A more detailed description of the Emergency Capital Reserve Fund, which plays a key role in the overall operation of the Capital Plan, is included in the Town Report.
There were few changes to the overall Capital Plan projections since the previous Town Meeting. During 2020, the Highway Department replaced a 2004 International dump truck and will sell the old one, and the Fire Department purchased a Medtronic LifePak 12 defibrillator/monitor for EMT use. The Town Clerk’s Office increased the amount of storage room rolling shelving it needs but has postponed the need year by three additional years. Also, during the previous fiscal year, the Recreation Department purchased the new lawn tractor at below the budgeted cost, as mentioned above.