The Stowe Select Board is looking at a budget proposal that would add slightly less than 1 cent to the municipal tax rate.

The proposal, prepared by Town Manager Charles Safford, totals $12,975,907, up $564,616 from the current budget of $12,411,291.

Of that amount, $9,898,421 would come from property taxes — an increase of $355,065, or 3.72 percent — from the $9,543,356 for the current budget.

The increase would raise the municipal property tax rate by 0.93 cents per $100 of property value, from 42.56 cents to 43.39 cents.

Among notable budget items:

• A new position in town government — a director of buildings and grounds. The line item for the position totals $137,123, including a base salary of $85,414. The director would oversee the $21 million worth buildings and 2,000 acres of land owned by the town government.

• An additional $191,754 for the town highway department, including $75,000 for stormwater work. Under new state laws, the town needs to make $4.9 million in improvements in the next 16 years to mitigate stormwater runoff, with the goal improving the quality of Vermont’s lakes and waterways.

• The budget includes paving part of Edson Hill Road between Mountain Road and the entrance to Edson Hill Manor, and paving School Street between Main Street and Stowe Hollow Road.

• The town is looking to hire an assistant town engineer — $131,745 in pay and benefits — whose duties would include helping to comply with the stormwater mandates.

• $12,334 for computer improvements that will, among other things, make the town’s website more user-friendly for people on cellphones.

However, some department budgets are shrinking.

The police budget is down $41,617 — 2.2 percent — as senior officers leave and are replaced by new officers who earn less money.

The recreation department is looking at a reduction of $70,216 as staff is reduced through attrition from three jobs to two, plus discontinuation of the town’s after-school program.

Capital costs

The board is considering $505,000 in requests to tap the capital reserve fund, whose money comes from the local option tax on meals, rooms and alcohol, not property taxes. Grants and federal and state aid also contribute to the fund.

Among the requests:

•  $155,000 for new radios for the fire department, which is using radios that are more than 20 years old.

“For the most part, they’ve done their jobs, but they’ve outlived their life expectancy,” said Fire Chief Kyle Walker.

In some cases, Walker said, the antiquated equipment have prevented emergency responders from communicating with each other.

• $69,000 for new cameras and operating system improvements in the public safety building. According to Police Chief Don Hull, the current system has limited storage capacity for videos that could become offered as evidence in a court case.

• $65,000 to replace the sprinkler system in the Akeley Memorial Building, Stowe’s town hall. The current system is leaking and the pipes are deteriorating, which could cause catastrophic damage to the historic building, in the words of Public Works Director Harry Shepard.

• $95,000 to repair the Cemetery Road Bridge.

• $50,000 for engineering plans for the eventual reconstruction of Depot Street between Main Street and Thomas Lane.

• $20,000 for engineering plans for replacing a bridge on Nebraska Valley Road.

• $11,000 to create an inventory of ash trees along town roads, in preparation for a likely infestation of the emerald ash borer, which has a 99-percent kill rate for ash trees.

Social services

At town meeting in 2019, voters approved $53,972 to support money organizations that range from the American Red Cross to the Vermont Rural Protection Task Force.

This year, the town is looking at $64,472 in requests, an increase of $9,500. The board is expected to take up those requests on Monday.

On Jan. 27, the board will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal. Voters will have the final say on March 3.

We use a Facebook Comments Plugin for commenting. No personal harassment, abuse or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer. We moderate every comment. Please go to our Terms of Use/Privacy Policy "Posting Rules and Interactivity" for more information.

Reliable news and information is vitally important. Local advertising has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis but the Vermont Community Newspaper Group remains committed to its responsibility to serve its communities. Your communities. With some assistance from loyal readers, community organizations, foundations and other funders, we hope to keep reporters on the job keeping you informed. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our local journalism fund. Thank you for your support.