Windsor Town Council Meeting

Though there were three items on the agenda for the Nov. 18 Windsor Town Council, the meeting began with the report that one of the items, a first reading of a repeal of the town’s all-electric reach code, was being continued to a later date.

Adopted in October of 2019, the ordinance, which became effective on Jan. 1, 2020, applies to the development of all new low-rise residential development, including single-family homes, detached accessory dwelling units and multi-family development up to three-stories in height. New low-rise residential development is required to use only electric appliances and mechanical systems; the use of gas appliances and mechanical systems is not allowed.

Following the adoption, the town had been sued by two developers and the agenda for this meeting announced a settlement agreement which included a full repeal.

However, in the wake of the agenda being published, there was a significant outpouring of support for the code, including a voluminous number of letters and several in-person comments. So, when the moment came early on to discuss changes to the agenda, town manager Ken MacNab suggested they push the decision off.

“Staff is recommending this item be continued,” he said. “It is related to the litigation on the town’s adoption of an all-electric reach code, and a continuance would give staff more time to review some of the legal points in the litigation that’s been filed.”

The council voted unanimously in favor of the continuance, which will be brought back, perhaps as soon as the next meeting.  

Budget numbers better than hoped

A bright spot of the evening was a presentation from Jeneen Peterson, administrative services director, which showed that while the town is feeling impacts from the pandemic-related recession, those impacts have not been as bad as feared.

The numbers presented focused on the general fund, and reflected unaudited numbers from the 2019-20 fiscal year. Overall, revenue was down $463,000, or 2%, from the prior fiscal year and $1 million short of estimated budget revenue for 2019-20. While that is a significant amount, it is much less than the $2.8 million loss they had been anticipating.

While transient occupancy tax (TOT) and event sponsorship and charges for service were severely impacted by the pandemic, there was a surprising boost in property tax revenue sales tax kept things from becoming too grim.

“TOT tax was hit the hardest down 35%,” said Peterson. “Sales tax is the second most vulnerable and we outperformed projections. Cash receipts were 7% higher. (Overall), revenue was down 4% for the same period year over year, but the county as a whole was down 16%, and Windsor was only down 4%.”

Another aid to the bottom line was the huge increase (32%)  in online sales, a tax for which are collected by the county and distributed to various municipalities, as well as a 10% increase in food and drug purchases.

On the expenditure side, the town managed to only spend 89% of its budget for the fiscal year, primarily by holding staff positions open instead of filling them, deferring projects and events and curtailing activities.

The general fund reserve budget must be 25% by statute, and despite the pandemic problems the fund balance was at 30% at the end of the fiscal year. While it is good news that it is above statutory levels, it did drop from 38% in the previous fiscal year.

The town also did not have to remove any monies from its stabilization fund, which currently has over $2 million in it.

While the overall news is better than hoped, especially compared to other towns and cities, no one is under the illusion that town will get off with no impacts. They expect continued losses of one to 2% a year.

“We’ll be playing catch-up for a few years,” Peterson said.

Wastewater report

The third item on the agenda was the presentation and acceptance of the Recycled Water Storage and Use Study prepared by Brelje and Race.

The study provided significant detail on the current level of wastewater reclamation in the town as well as providing four options for future management.

While the only decision made was to accept the report, it will be used as a basis for further discussion and planning.

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