Under a proposed charge offered by steering committee members Sheila Osler, Mary Wright, and Renee Galle, the committee would be a “clearinghouse” for recovery projects, helping to coordinate projects that are connected, avoid duplication of effort, and helping to connect people with resources for projects. Selectboard members asked what the committee meant by “clearinghouse.”
“I think you can direct people and make recommendations,” said board member Jim Burke, “but I think it’s the selectboard’s function to be the clearinghouse. The selectboard is the one that accepts or denies.”
Osler agreed, saying that the committee’s intention wasn’t to approve or disapprove projects, but to provide guidance. “Instead of having everyone run to Scott (Murphy, town manager) or you every time they want to do something, if it were filtered through the steering committee first it could at least be coordinated.”
“I think that’s a great idea,” Burke said. “I stand behind that 100%.”
Board member Diane Chapman asked if the committee would have standard application criteria for projects. Galle suggested that the committee may use FEMA criteria that had already been used to select some of the existing proposed recovery projects. “FEMA had a paper to fill out that asked groups to prioritize what their short- and long-term goals would be,” she said. “It might make sense to use that formula.”
Board member Susan Haughwout noted that there may be projects that are already under way, or functioning independently. She said she didn’t think those projects would need to go through the steering committee.
“I think that makes sense for the ones already in progress,” said Galle. “But I don’t think it would be out of the realm for us to want to know what’s going on. There may be things that are connected, and it’s good to have knowledge of those.”
Galle said the committee’s work was vital to the recovery efforts. “Our intent was to help propel things forward, not to hold them back. By not having this committee in place, some of the projects have stopped moving forward.”
Village business owner Lilias Hart said she hoped the committee wouldn’t add another layer of “nanny state bureaucracy” to the recovery process. “I’d hate to think we have to present ideas that are already formed to people that have nothing to do with our project in order to move forward,” she said. “I can see it for new things, but for things already on the go it would be a terrible waste of time.”
Marlboro College professor Felicity Ratté said the committee could be a resource for anyone managing a recovery project. “I think the other definition of clearinghouse is a place where people can go for information,” she said. “If someone comes and says ‘I want to work on this project’ we can say ‘No, Lilias is already working on that.’”
Last year, Ratté and several of her students studied Wilmington’s recovery efforts, and assisted the town in the process. On Wednesday evening, Ratté volunteered to serve on the Long Term Recovery Committee.
In other matters, the board gave their final stamp of approval to their proposed fiscal year 2014 budget. The total 2014 budget, including general fund spending and the highway department budget, and excluding special funding articles, is pegged at $3,991,678.
The tax rate based on the proposed budget would be 48.12 cents.