Middlebury budget fine-tuned
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury selectmen have agreed on a series of capital improvement reductions and salary adjustments in the proposed fiscal year 2011 general fund budget that, if approved by voters, would allow the town to preserve the same municipal tax rate for the second year in a row.
The selectboard will take a final look at the $6,879,375 spending plan at its next meeting, on Tuesday, Jan. 5, before warning it for a public hearing. Officials have spent the past month looking at ways to pare down expenses in order to preserve the same 80.91-cent municipal tax rate that has been in place since last year. Board members have sought to maintain that rate in deference to local taxpayers, many of whom have been feeling the pinch during the current recession.
At the beginning of last Tuesday’s selectboard meeting, selectmen found themselves $107,000 short of meeting their no-tax-hike budgetary goal. After some spirited debate, the board was able to whittle $111,642 from the spending plan by:
• Reducing, by $60,000, the capital improvement budget — specifically for gravel roads. Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger explained that some of the town’s gravel roads received a major infusion of gravel following the flooding of last summer. The federal government picked up a significant portion of those costs, which would otherwise have been borne by the town.
• Not awarding cost-of-living increases to non-union town workers for the balance of this fiscal year and next, thereby saving around $22,000.
Middlebury selectboard Chairman John Tenny noted the current pact with union workers expires at the end of this fiscal year. Union and town representatives are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, and Tenny said the town will be lobbying for similar concessions from union workers.
• Anticipating $21,700 in salary savings through the Middlebury Police Department next year. That savings, according to Finger, are largely associated with the scheduled six-month military deployment of a police officer.
• Deferring, for a year, interior painting at the Ilsley Public Library, for a savings of $8,000.
The current budget draft, aside from assuring no municipal tax hike, also allows the town to maintain a general fund balance of around $450,000. That figure is within is the 5-percent range of the overall budget, a threshold of savings the board has sought to maintain from year to year to be able to face potential fiscal emergencies.
As reported in Thursday’s Addison Independent, the UD-3 school board last week approved for voters a proposed 2010-2011 spending plan of just under $16 million, reflecting a spending increase of 2.81 percent and a potential 5.0-percent bump in education property taxes.