Bristol reorganizes budget lines

BRISTOL — The Bristol selectboard at their Monday meeting continued ironing out a proposed town spending plan for the next fiscal year, addressing budgets for the recreation department, the Lawrence Memorial Library and the town’s waste disposal programs.
The recreation department spending plan for next fiscal year, which has not yet been finalized, is likely to see a noticeable hike, according to Town Administrator Bill Bryant.
One thing driving the hike is the fact that additional staff members are electing to use the town’s health insurance this year, Bryant said.
A second driver is the way that the lease for The Hub teen center property is accounted for. While appropriations to the Bristol Recreation Club — a nonprofit entity that owns the 10-acre field and accompanying structures next to Mount Abraham Union High School — will drop next year, the recreation department’s budget will rise. That’s because the $7,200 the town allocates to the club for an annual lease of The Hub property will now fall under the recreation department’s budget. Therefore, the town’s appropriation to the club will drop about 25 percent to $17,000.
“It’s really just a change in what accounts the town charges things to and how the cash flows,” Bryant said.
In other budget news from Monday’s meeting, the selectboard:
•Met with trustees from the Lawrence Memorial Library to discuss the library’s spending plan for 2012-2014, which they proposed increasing 5.5 percent to $134,439. Library trustees asked the town for $117,611 in appropriations, which represents a 3.2-percent increase.
•Entertained a proposed landfill spending plan of $155,250 — a 1.5-percent reduction from this year.
•Listened to a proposed recycling spending plan of $46,279, or a 3.2-percent decrease from this year, and a revenue plan of $18,000, or an 11.3-percent increase from this year.
Bryant said that while many of the budget numbers seem set, they may shift before the selectboard warns a new town budget on Jan. 30 for adoption at the March town meeting.
“Everything could get tweaked here,” he said. “I still need to adjust the numbers I’m using for salaries.” Next week, the selectboard will go through line items with a fine-toothed comb, he added.
Also at the meeting, the board:
•Met with maple syrup producer Donald Gale of Lincoln to talk about his sugaring operation on the town’s 112-acre property in Lincoln, which was once the town’s water source. Gale wants to build a sugarhouse on the property, and the selectboard is mulling it over.
For every maple tree Gale taps, which is up to about 270 trees now, the town charges Gale the rate set by the federal government for tapping on U.S. National Forest land.
“It only generates about 40-45 cents per tap,” said Bryant, who added that “the tap income is now close to half of the property taxes we pay up there.”
•Signed a letter of intent for a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant. Initially, Bryant didn’t think the town would have enough staff to file the application (a task that takes 50-100 hours), but he said Vermont Emergency Management is offering the town assistance. Funding for this grant comes from federal money allocated to the state under the federal disaster declaration for Tropical Storm Irene.
In 2006, the town conducted a storm-water study of the Bristol village and identified three projects that would help reduce flooding in and around Bristol. The largest of those projects was finished in 2010, when the North Street storm-water drain was replaced. The town is now hoping to insert drains on Mountain Terrace and Mountain Street.
“When these storms dump water (these projects are intended) to collect that water and get rid of it without flooding everybody,” said Bryant.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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