Town officials continued to make cuts Tuesday night, Jan. 14, with the municipal budget totaling about $80,000 and getting the bottom line close to what they hope voters will support on Town Meeting Day.
Town Manager Lee Krohn said the likely tax increase after the revisions is “hovering around 6% now.”
Tuesday’s discussion was a public hearing on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-21, which starts in July. The board took questions from the public, asked even more questions of department representatives in attendance and methodically walked through each category of the 12-page draft.
The collective exercise paid off as Fire Chief Jerry Ouimet pointed out that two line items in the fire department budget didn’t reflect the most up-to-date information, explaining an equipment replacement fund needed to be higher, but another line needed to be reduced to reflect a postponed and therefore deleted vehicle purchase. The net result trimmed $45,000.
“Thank you, Chief. Bless you,” said Board Chair Jerry Storey. “That’s a big step.”
Board member Mike Ashooh looked up from his budget sheets at Ouimet and said, “That should have started the meeting.”
Another big revision came after much discussion with Highway Superintendent Paul Goodrich. The proposed road paving budget got trimmed back by $25,000 to $350,000 for the coming year.
Other smaller reductions were made to items for trail maintenance, investing in energy efficiency improvements and police radios.
The reductions bring the overall spending level under $9.6 million.
“We’re just where I’d like to see us,” Storey said as the session wrapped up.
The board voted to continue the budget hearing at its Jan. 21 meeting where it expects to vote to adopt the budget and approve the list of articles for town meeting.
School district budget presentation
Before the board dove into its own budget review, Dave Connery, one of Shelburne’s members of the Champlain Valley School Board, presented slides with highlights of the school budget proposal voters will consider on Town Meeting Day.
The school board will finalize its articles for the March 3 ballot next week, Connery said. The budget totals just under $82.4 million, up 4.4% from this year’s spending plan. Tax rate increases will vary by town based on appraisal levels, Connery explained. Shelburne’s increase will be 5.1% which translates to $77 for every $100,000 of property value, he said.
Other articles to go before voters include a request for $260,000 to purchase two full-sized electric school buses and one smaller bus with a wheelchair lift.
The district also is asking voters to support a $6 million bond for facility upgrades. Connery said the bulk of that item – $4.5 million – will address Charlotte Central School.
Shelburne Community School would receive about $380,000 of work to expand its kitchen, an area not addressed in the renovation project several years ago.
Storey told the audience school expenses account for about 80% of the annual property tax bills.
Other board action
• The board unanimously supported a Community Development Block Grant planning grant application to the state for the Shelburnewood Mobile Home Cooperative, to assess the feasibility of expanding. The $60,000 grant would pay for a study to potentially develop approximately 28 more lots for homes on seven open acres along the east side of the park located in Shelburne village.
The town’s matching portion would come as staff time by town Planning and Zoning Director Dean Pierce. He said it would amount to about 19 hours of time for an in-kind contribution worth $2,000.
Storey praised the effort saying it is in keeping with goals in the town plan that encourage more development of affordable housing.
• The board also approved a grant application by the Tree Committee for state funding to help preserve nine trees on the parade ground in the village. The committee previously received grant funding for work around six trees, explained committee Chair Gail-Henderson King.
The grant would supply $2,500 matched by $1,000 from the committee’s budget and $2,000 of in-kind donations, she said.
• The board briefly interviewed and unanimously voted to appoint four people to town volunteer boards and committees. Robert Plante and Allyson Myers were added to the Development Review Board; Elaine Limanek was appointed to the Social Services Committee and Susan Dunning was named to the Tree Committee. All will serve three-year terms starting immediately and ending April 1, 2023.