WILLIAMSVILLE—The numbers are in: there’s enough money in the budget to keep the Williamsville Hall open this winter.
Even with spending money on repairs and paying a few outstanding bills, enough funds remain to keep the hall open for the rest of the fiscal year — and that includes heating the building during the winter.
Since 2009, the Selectboard has voted annually to shut down the town-owned hall during winter months, citing the expense of keeping it open year-round and the inadequacy of the heating and insulation systems to maintain a comfortable temperature in the winter.
Located in the village along the Rock River on Dover Road, the building was originally constructed in 1910 to house the Williamsville Grange. When the Grange disbanded in 1969, the organization deeded the building to the town.
For the last few years, Williamsville Hall Committee members have worked with the Selectboard to fund and arrange repairs to the facility. The committee has also held a number of fundraising events to defray these expenses.
Committee members Steve Levine and Myra Fassler appeared at the Nov. 19 Selectboard meeting to fill board members in on the details and to ask them to approve keeping the hall open all winter.
Levine submitted the hall’s budget and current financial state, which he said was up-to-date as of Nov. 19.
The hall’s capital expense fund has $14,472. Insulation and window repair will leave a balance of $3,159.26.
Once those two projects are complete and paid, an official with Efficiency Vermont can do an energy audit and give the town a rebate of about $2,000, said Levine. Funds should arrive by February, bringing the balance back up to $5,159.26.
The estimated costs of maintaining the building as a functioning community center include $50 per month in electricity. For the rest of the fiscal year, the committee projects $1,250 for shoveling snow on the grounds, $500 for cleaning and supplies, and $2,600 net for heating fuel, which reflects a credit from the propane company.
Levine noted the heating fuel company’s representative helped him come up with that figure, which presumes keeping the hall at 45 degrees when empty, and 60 to 65 degrees when in use.
Levine also noted the hall’s roof is leaking. He received an estimate to get them through the year, he said, and the fund will cover it. Levine warned the Selectboard that they should discuss a major repair during the Fiscal Year 2021 budget season.
The Williamsville Hall Committee’s fundraising efforts brought the donation fund balance up to $4,176.91. Levine noted the town manages this account, and it gets rolled over into subsequent fiscal years if it’s unused.
“We continued to have fundraisers,” he said.
With all of that, Levine’s figures show a surplus of $802.28.
“It looks like we can afford [...] to keep the building open,” Levine told the board.
The Selectboard agreed, and unanimously voted to keep the Williamsville Hall open throughout the winter and into the end of FY20.
Selectboard Chair Marion Dowling thanked Fassler, Levine, and the other committee members for their work in supporting and sustaining the building.
She also had some questions and concerns about renting out the hall for parties and arts events.
Dowling said she had received some complaints about renters leaving the building in poor condition, and in one case, the town had to reimburse a renter because when they arrived, the previous party hadn’t cleaned the hall.
After a brief discussion, Dowling advocated for ensuring that all parties using the building — whether or not the town charges them a rental fee — pay a deposit and be held responsible if they don’t leave the hall in clean condition.
“It needs to be the same for everybody,” she said.
Selectboard member Mike Fitzpatrick praised the committee for the work they have done on the Williamsville Hall, and said he would “like to see the building used more often.”
Dowling agreed, and encouraged the public to “have more parties” there.
Levine said that is the committee’s intention, and he hopes to spread the word that the hall is open, “maybe with a newspaper article.”