SUNDERLAND - The Sunderland town hall project continues to take steps forward as residents of Sunderland will vote on the possibility of a bond for the building on March 5, 2013.

The total amount of the town hall building is anticipated to cost slightly more than $510,000. Currently the town has just under $160,000 in a building fund to help pay for the construction of the new building. This means that the amount left to finance the project is slightly over $351,000, which is the amount the bond could possibly be.

"We have some cash on hand, around $155,000, the website shows the exact amounts," said Sunderland Select Board chairman Mark Hyde. "The town has been putting $10,000 a year away in a fund for a building for around 20 years. So, we would likely start the building with this in anticipation of the bond proceeds."

Along with voting on the bond in March, residents will also vote on the proposed design of the town hall building.

"We are bringing this before voters in March," said Hyde. "We have proposed a design that the voters will have to approve as well. Once approved by voters we would then finalize the design and have actual blueprints drawn up and then put it out to bid."

The design of the new building includes a 60-plus person meeting room, a town clerk office, a public work area, and a records storage vault. It also includes a 22 vehicle parking area with two handicap spaces. The proposed building site is just off of Mountain View Road.

If the bond and the blueprints pass in March the project would likely begin next spring or summer. However, that time-frame is not set in stone and the town needs to stick with the process they have in place, Hyde said.

"The next steps are to properly follow the legal procedures necessary for the vote, warnings, postings and meetings," he said.

The Selectboard has approved John Williams, a town resident and chairman of the town's building committee to serve as a bond liaison, to help them with the legal process and other items that need to be fulfilled. The select board is looking at hiring the accounting firm Mcsoley and McCoy out of Burlington, but will only be under contract pending the binding vote in March.

"The reason we need an accountant is that, for the bonding, the requirement from the Vermont bonding bank is that we have a accountant compilation with disclosure," said Hyde.

The Selectboard is also looking at hiring a lawyer, Paul Guiliani of McKee, Guiliani and Cleveland based out of Montpelier. Guiliani deals with bond banks often as a member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers. His legal representation will cost approximately $4,000. Williams will oversee each of the hiring processes.

"I am here to help the Town of Sunderland in any way I can," Williams said during the Dec. 17 Selectboard meeting.

Assuming the town hall project is approved by the residents of Sunderland, it will raise the tax rate by 0.0125 per $100 of assessed property value. If a resident owns a $100,000 piece of property, then they will pay an additional property tax amount of $12.50.

The annual cost of the new building, if approved, is estimated at $20,589. This figure includes yearly maintenance of the building ($8,760) plus annual bond payments ($26,629), less the current town hall rent and annual building allotment ($14,800).