A town budget proposal that’s $112,800 higher than current spending could lead to a slight uptick in tax bills for residents of Hyde Park, if approved by voters March 3.
The budget proposed for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is $2,643,000, a 4.46 percent increase. Town officials estimate the budget could raise the tax rate by 2.84 percent, to 79.4 cents per $100 of property value. That’s an increase of 2.2 cents, about $22 on a $100,000 home.
The budget rose mainly because of standard increases in pay and benefits, said Town Administrator Ron Rodjenski. Some line items are considerably higher or lower, he said, but that’s actually due to a bookkeeping change in how things like insurance and payroll costs are listed.
In the past, those items were listed under the general government line item. This year, insurance and payroll costs are listed under the departments they apply to. As a result, the general government budget plunged, but the highway, fire department and library budgets rose.
Overall, it’s roughly the same amount of money, Rodjenski said, with the slight increases in salary and benefits that occur every year. The change makes it easier to see the real costs of running particular departments.
The select board wants to boost the annual deposit in the highway reserve fund by $10,000, to $140,000, to defray the cot of future equipment purchases, Rodjenski said. It considered a $20,000 increase, but shaved it to $10,000 to lessen the tax impact.
The amount the town pays for emergency services also increased. Its contract with Northern Emergency Medical Services for ambulance services is up $13,600, to $117,500. And, the amount paid to the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department for police coverage is up $12,300, to $420,700.
Hyde Park’s town meeting on March 3 begins at 9 a.m. at Lamoille Union High School. The polls will be open for voting in the presidential primary, in local elections and on the school budgets from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the high school.
Other money articles
In addition to the municipal budget, voters will consider several smaller requests. Among them:
• Using $17,500 from a budget surplus to continue renovating the North Hyde Park Gihon Valley Hall — the former Grange Hall. Last year, voters approved $50,000, primarily to repair the roof and complete legal work. This year, the committee overseeing the work is asking for a lower amount to upgrade the building’s electrical system and make a few other safety improvements. Information on the project will be presented at town meeting, Rodjenski said.
• $2,000 for Lamoille County Mental Health Services and $1,500 each for the Lamoille Family Center and Healthy Lamoille Valley.
Voters will be asked:
• To authorize the select board to study the possibility of appointing a town clerk and treasurer, rather than having voters elect one. A recent change in state law would allow that change, and the board wants to evaluate whether it would make sense for Hyde Park. If they think it will, they’ll ask voters for approval in the future.
• Whether they’d like to hold the annual town meeting at the newly renovated Hyde Park Elementary School in future years.
• To urge the state government to complete construction of the 93-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail by 2025.
In all-day balloting, Hyde Park voters will fill two seats on the select board, one on the Lamoille North school board, one on the Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District board and two lister positions.
From the floor at town meeting, voters will elect a town moderator for 2021, a town agent, a cemetery commissioner and a library trustee.