Weathersfield Town Budget FY 2019 Preview

Town Meeting is Around the Corner

Annual School Town Meeting
Saturday, March 3 10:00 a.m.

Annual Town Meeting
Saturday, March 3 12:30 p.m.
Both at Weathersfield School, Ascutney 

Town Voting by Australian Ballot
Tuesday, March 6 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Martin Memorial Hall, Ascutney



A preview of the General Fund portion of the Town Budget.
The town manager and the select board are asking the voters to approve an expenditure of $1,485,018 of which $1,057,805 shall be raise by taxes. Expenditures are going up but according to town manager Ed Morris the revenues (other than taxes) are being collected at a higher rate.

SAPA-TV has produced an informational video, discussing the town, school and library budget. You can view it online or on your television. (SAPA-TV publishes their schedule daily.) The town is covered beginning at 34 minutes.

The board is looking to spend some money to increase efficiency of services provided to the taxpayers. One step is to revise the town website, making if more user friendly. The board is keeping the level of police protection the same. And they would like to see expanded hours for the town clerk and listers' offices.

Fire Services
The town of Weathersfield has two fire departments. Each is a 501 c(3) non-profit, independently run entity. Select Board chair Kelly Murphy explains in the SAPA-TV video that each year the general fund has money budgeted for the two departments covering various operating expenses. Funds are allocated to the two department to cover insurance, dispatch services, dry-hydrant maintenance, and workers compensation through the fire commission. The current appropriation is $22,500 plus $10,000 for turnout gear and fire hose.

For FY 2019 the board is asking for $22,500 plus $5,000 for safety gear. The total money for the fire departments will be $175,913 which is down 4.4% from last year.

Town Highway Fund
The select board is asking the voters to approve $1,111,653 of which $922,053 will be raised by taxes. This budget is up $64,240 for FY 2018. According to town manager Ed Morris the budget is up partially because of a decrease in revenues. Morris has moved some of the services the highway crew provides to the solid waste and other groups in town out of the highway fund. His intent is to keep the highway crew on the roads so there will be decreased services provided to some departments in town that the highway crew previously provided. Road repairs and maintenance will be the focus, this will include installation of more guard rails.

Planning has begun for implementing changes coming as a result of Act 64 Clean Water Act. Municipal storm water permitting will require an inventory of roads near a water source. According to Morris 46% of our town roads are hydraulically connected. Theses roads will need ditching on both sides of the roadways lined with stone to prevent sediment washing downstream. A permit must be purchased this year that will cost about $2,600 before work can begin. 2036 is the deadline for full compliance.

Solid Waste Budget
The select board is asking for $270,935 to run the solid waste facility. The facility is funded by fees and the punch cards. Fess will remain at $50 and punch tickets at $3.50. Zero-sort recycling was implemented last year and the town plans to continuing using it. The volume of recycling has increased as a result of this new method of recycling.

Reserve Funds
The select board is asking for approval of four reserve fund articles:
Article 8 $5,000 for Highway Maintenance Reserve Fund
Article 9 $2,000 for Fire Equipment Motorized Reserve Fund (fire trucks)
Article 10 $5,000 for Fire Equipment and Gear Reserve Fund
Article 11 $7,500 for Police Cruiser Reserve Fund (vehicles for two full time and several part time police officers)

In the SAPA-TV video Murphy explains the philosophy of the reserve fund (at about 54 minutes.) She argues that with a reserve fund you don't pay interest on projects or purchases. She makes the argument that reserve funds can stabilize the tax base but there needs to be transparency in order for the taxpayer to understand where that money is and how it gets used.

Beginning with FY 2009 the new finance director, Darlene Kelly reviewed old town reports and outside town audits tracking the fund balance. She found a negative fund balance for FY 2009 of about $38,000 which grew to $119,000 in FY 2010 (the town over spent.) A positive fund balance was seen in the next fiscal year which was most likely due to the then town manager's aggressive collection of delinquent taxes.

The fund balance began increasing in FY 2012 with a balance over $200,000. Expenditures continued to increase and the fund balance was used to artificially inflate the revenue portion of the budget, keeping the tax rate down. This trend continued through FY 2015.

The current select board is hoping to change this use of fund balance to keep the tax rate down by stabilizing expenditures and creating funded reserve accounts for capital purchases.

If all appropriations for both the town and school are approved, the estimated combined homestead and municipal tax increase of 14.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation would increase property taxes on a $200,000 home by $292 to $4,716.

If you have more questions, please contact the town manager or any member of the select board.

Town Meeting is just around the corner, ask questions, get information and make informed decisions about the town's budgets.

The annual town meeting is Saturday March, 3 12:30 p.m. followed by Australian balloting March 6 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at Martin Memorial Hall. More information can be found on the town's website.


Related 

Vermont Laws
Budget Committee
-The Town should have a Budget Committee
17 V.S.A. § 2646
(18) Five members of an advisory budget committee, if the town so votes, unless the town votes to elect additional advisory budget committee members. The advisory budget committee members shall be elected by ballot, unless the town votes to have those members appointed by the selectboard. (Added 1977, No. 269 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1983, No. 218 (Adj. Sess.); 1991, No. 177 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1997, No. 83 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1999, No. 22, § 1; 1999, No. 73 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2001, No. 3, § 1; 2013, No. 21, § 1; 2013, No. 106 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2013, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 48; 2013, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2017, No. 27, § 1, eff. May 10, 2017.)

24 V.S.A. § 1147
§ 1147. Advisory budget committee creation; duties
If a municipality creates an advisory budget committee as provided in 17 V.S.A. § 2646, the committee shall evaluate the municipality's budget and make recommendations to the selectboard for the budget based on its findings. (Added 2013, No. 106 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

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Town Warning 2018

Town Audit The town manager said the full report WILL NOT be printed in the Annual Town Report. It is available ONLINE and at the town office for your review.




Last year's voting results:

Article 8: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield approve the expenditure of $ 1,479,112 for the support and operation of the Town’s General Fund? $ 1,071,510 shall be raised by property taxation, allowing the Select Board to set the appropriate tax rate.

Yes: 265
No: 220

Article 9: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield approve the expenditure of $ 1,060,460 for the support and operation of the Town’s Highway Fund? $ 857,813 shall be raised by property taxation, allowing the Select Board to set the appropriate tax rate.

Yes: 300
No: 128

Article 10: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield approve the expenditure of $293,760 for the support and operation of the Town’s Solid Waste Management Facility? These monies shall be raised by non-tax revenues.

Yes: 354
No: 128

Article 11: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield authorize the Select Board to borrow funds not to exceed $170,000 for a period not to exceed five years for the purpose of purchasing a truck/snowplow for the maintenance of Town highways? The new truck will replace a 1996 Mack truck/snowplow with 146,000 miles on it, as a frontline truck/snowplow. The 1996 Mack will be placed in reserve status. [Not in Budget]

Yes: 275
No: 206

Article 12: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield appropriate the sum of $30,000, to be deposited into the Highway Equipment Reserve Fund? [Not in Budget]

Yes: 236
No: 242

Article 13: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield appropriate the sum of $7,000 to be deposited into the Police Cruiser Reserve Fund? [Not in Budget]

Yes: 214
No: 262

Article 14: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield appropriate the sum of $30,000, to be deposited into the Fire Equipment Motorized Reserve Fund? [Not in Budget]

Yes: 234
No: 239

Article 15: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield authorize the Select Board to borrow funds not to exceed $30,000, for a period not to exceed three years, to construct a handicapped accessible ramp at the 1879 Schoolhouse? [Not in Budget]

Yes: 168
No: 305

Article 16: Shall the voters of the Town of Weathersfield appropriate the sum of $500 to support a new Weathersfield Directory? [Not in Budget]

Yes: 183
No: 291


Next Up a preview of the Library Budget

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