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Brandon to consider $2 million budget

BRANDON — The Brandon selectboard on Monday approved a proposed $2,018,360 municipal spending plan for 2010-2011 that includes money for a part-time recreation coordinator and a significant increase in economic development funding.
Those funds are available because there are no raises in the proposed budget for town management, including the town manager, the superintendent of public works, and the police chief. One full-time public works employee has also been cut, leaving three full-time workers and the superintendent.
Voters will vote on nonprofit appropriations separately, which this year total roughly $66,000, including a $10,000 request from the Brandon Area Boys & Girls Club.
Although it will not affect the bottom line, there may be another adjustment within the budget based on further discussion regarding selectboard members stipends. Selectboard member Kellie Patten proposed that board members each give up their $6,000 honorariums in this budget cycle in keeping with other town employee budget decisions.
“We’re asking everybody to make some sacrifices,” she said. “I think we need to set the example and do the same.”
But Selectman Mitch Pearl said the problem is that he gives his entire stipend to charity each year, and those organizations count on that money. The board will continue to discuss the issue before Town Meeting Day.
The $2,018,360 amount to be raised by taxes also includes $13,360 to cover utilities, insurance and interest payments for the new police station if voters approve the proposed bond (see accompanying story.)
Without that amount, the budget sits at $2,005,000, the same spending plan approved for 2008-2009.
The Brandon Recreation Advisory Committee has been instructed to advertise the part-time director’s position immediately. The extra $30,000 allotted for the department will be supplemented by funds in the current recreation budget that have not been spent.
The board also approved an increase in economic development funds, from $18,000 to $32,000. The newly formed Brandon Area Economic Development Committee (BAEDC) will likely use the additional funds to hire a part-time economic development director.
“Realistically, that’s the way to go,” said Selectman Devon Fuller, who is the board’s economic development liaison. “It’s going to be baby steps. There’s a lot of stuff on the shelf that needs to be re-implemented.”
The new BAEDC will meet on Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Stephen Douglas House conference room.
Baker explained that the funding for the recreation and economic development budgets come from the town’s reserve fund, which is financed through undesignated, unencumbered reserves that are left after the annual audits and paying of bills.
“If ever there was a year to dip into the rainy day fund, this is it,” he said. “And if there was ever a worthy cause to spend the money on, economic development is it.”

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