Letter to the Editor-Review of Surpluses by Dave Fuller
Weathersfield voters, please take note of your Town report and upcoming budget votes on March 6, 2018.
According to the outside auditors report, large surpluses remain in both the General Fund and Highway Fund. These amounts total $311,720. The Selectboard, on Tuesday Feb 20th, voted to transfer $114,000 of the highway’s surplus to a paving project already completed, leaving a surplus of $111,000.
Title 19 section 312 of Vermont law does not allow highway surpluses to go on indefinitely. In fact, the words are very clear. Surplus funds in highway shall be used for the same purpose as voted on---all the following year. I brought this up to the Board on Feb 20th. These funds were budgeted for other uses in highway and not used. Voters did not vote any line item or special article for paving.
The Board did carefully word a question to a staff attorney at VLCT, but made no mention they were keeping nearly 50% of the surplus.
The audited General Fund had a surplus of $86,720 on 6-30-17. Several years ago, voters authorized a “rainy day “fund for emergency use. This was capped at 10% of the General Fund budget. By Audit, it already has $95,000 in it for use.
I asked about this in the Feb 20th meeting. The answer given was $86,720 was carried forward as a surplus.
Now, with all this cash surplus—undesignated—the budget asks voters for some 4 cents additional money on the tax rate. I have served the Town a number of years. I have farmed for nearly 40 years right here in Town. This math simply does not add up. Each penny of the tax rate is equal to $30,000.
These budgets have a total of $406,720 of audited surplus money (includes the voter approved rainy day fund). This is above and beyond the regular approved annual operating budgets of $ 2,500,000. This is about a 15% surplus.
Our Town has always voted on moves like this through special article. In fact, the Board’s return opinion by the VLCT counsel was that exact message. When in doubt, let the voters decide.
This comes at a time where our school budget (for a few years now has had nominal increases) will ask for more money also. It is my opinion that the State’s education position of bigger schools is flat out wrong. They are going down the same path of farms—where price only allows the large to exist---destroying the fabric of Vermont. Just take a look at the Towns where farms and schools disappear: created a drive-thru.
I’m voting no again on March 6, 2018 and ask that you join me. I stood on the Town Meeting floor outlining the surplus from last year and this year it has doubled. Audits are not wrong. The fact is compromise could have been reached—where school and town reached their goals without raising taxes.
Respectfully, David T Fuller