The August meeting of the Bennington City Council is this Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the city offices. The full agenda and supporting documents are posted here. Highlights include:
156th Street: Construction has progressed enough to allow access to the elementary school and parking lots. 156th street from the bridge to Warehouse Street will remain closed for at least another week. Detailed updates and a new schedule appear on page 22 of this document. We'll get the latest progress report Monday evening.
2020-2021 Budget: The Council will have its first meeting regarding the city's budget for next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The mayor and department heads will present their recommendations. Key features:
- The mayor is proposing the addition of a new police officer, bringing the department to four full-time officers and close to 100 percent round-the-clock coverage.
- The budget includes a conservative estimate of sales tax revenue. While Bennington's sales tax revenue has actually trended high this year, we are anticipating at least some negative economic effects next year.
- The budget reduces the property tax rate by 1.5 percent. Because of increased valuations and especially the addition of new homes within the city limits, overall property tax revenue will likely increase almost 8 percent.
New parkland: The Council will formally vote on the purchase of 30 acres of low-lying ground south of Bennington Road at Johns-Bohn Park, along with the donation of another 20 acres by owner Nancy Neumeyer and her family. The $300,000 cost for the 30 acres will come from the city's cash reserve. The reserve will still hold more than the recommended balance for unanticipated costs or economic turmoil. The combined 50 acres will create opportunities for youth sports fields and more. The city is partnering with the Bennington Community Foundation and youth sports leagues on the development and maintenance of the parkland.
Library re-opening: The Bennington Public Library will re-open August 10 with regular hours. The first hour every day is reserved for the elderly and those with health conditions. For a full list of restrictions, see the library's website.
Pedestrian safety on N. Molley: I will ask my fellow Council members to approve the installation of a speed table on N. Molley Street, located halfway between the entrance to Prairie Hollow and the beginning of Stark Street. The estimated cost of this traffic control device is $9,000. The goal is to slow down traffic on this densely populated straight-away, which is seeing increased use from the new development.
Do you have any questions, ideas, or concerns about these topics or any other? Please let me know.