I have to wonder if the Castleton Select Board is aware of their primary responsibility to govern and lead. When installed in a leadership position, one is expected to set any personal agenda aside and provide for the greater good.
The decision at their last meeting to proceed with renovation of 556 Main St. at a projected budget of $990,000, knowing full well this is not adequate, is irresponsible at best. Latest estimates from the architect are $1,050,000, when asked what would happen if the bids came in over budget, the answer was to see what we could cut. Is that the way we want this project handled? This renovation should be expected to provide for our needs for many years. If we cut corners and build cheap, what will future generations be left to deal with? What will they think of our “forward thinking”?
When repeatedly asked if we the taxpayers could vote on this project, the answer is that we already have. The bond vote held in November 2012 was on a different design with a 20 percent larger budget, 78 percent of the funding was approved and the balance not. At that time we were told by our select board that this project was dead unless 100 percent of the funding was approved. Although to proceed now with a different plan, with hopefully reduced costs may be legal, is it ethical and the right thing to do without asking the voters?
We have now spent, or have committed to spend $70,000 in unbudgeted funds to prepare documents for bids. Since this cannot be reversed without squandering money already spent, we should proceed through the bid process and establish the actual cost of this renovation. Then without any “value engineering”, the voters should be allowed the right to decide if this is in the best interest of Castleton.