Town budget set for public hearing

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents on Jan. 26 will be able to weigh in on a proposed fiscal year 2011 municipal budget that is $50,468 less than the current spending plan and that would maintain the same municipal tax rate as this year.
The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday officially OK’d, for public hearing, a proposed municipal spending plan of $8,127,649 — of which $1,250,000 is associated with debt service on the new Cross Street Bridge. That expense is being covered by a bond issue, with the debt retired through local option taxes and a substantial gift from Middlebury College.
Subtracting the bridge expenses, the proposed fiscal year 2011 municipal budget amounts to $6,877,649. That’s a figure that would enable the town to maintain, for a second consecutive year, the municipal tax rate of 80.7 cents per $100 in property value.
The proposed spending plan reflects flat wages for municipal employees. It also assumes the first year of a six-year phase-out of Middlebury’s machinery and equipment tax. The first year of the proposed M&E tax phase-out — which residents will be asked to approve in a separate vote — will cost the town roughly $61,000 in revenues, according to Middlebury Assistant Town Manager Joe Colangelo.
Selectmen applied $30,000 in fund balance to the budget and were able to reduce proposed spending on gravel roads by $60,000. The board was able to do this because the town was able to apply federal aid to boost some gravel roads damaged by last summer’s flooding.
The selectboard’s budget planning was made even more challenging this year because the town’s grand list remained flat, meaning there will be no new additional sources of property tax revenue to apply to expenses.
The budget hearing will be held in the municipal building conference room at 7 p.m.

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