City budget headed for surplus

VERGENNES — At a 30-minute May 13 city council meeting, Vergennes aldermen heard from City Manager Mel Hawley he believed there will be carryover from the current budget into the next fiscal year.
The next day, Hawley emphasized his numbers were only preliminary, calling them his personal “early voter exit poll,” but still said he was hopeful Vergennes could end its fiscal year on June 30 with $125,000 in the bank.
“That is a real early forecast,” Hawley said, noting two-and-a-half months remain in the fiscal year for regular bills and possible surprises to arrive.
Still, he is optimistic about ending the fiscal year well into the black. Hawley said the city as of last week had $350,000 in the bank or in expected revenue, with $225,000 of projected costs — $90,000 in payroll, $60,000 in regular bills, and $75,000 in planned June paving.
That leaves the $125,000 as a potential year-end surplus, Hawley said, which the council could choose to offset the tax rate, use as a cushion for 2014-2015 expenses, or fund expenses.
However, he noted the 2013 budget carryover stood at $187,000, of which aldermen chose to use $135,000 to keep the municipal tax rate in check.
Even if his estimate is correct, Hawley said, aldermen will not have as much money to offset taxes when they set the 2014-2015 budget this June, especially if they want to maintain something like the $52,000 cushion they opted for in June 2013.
“It’s still short of $135,000,” Hawley said.
At a meeting intentionally kept short because council members helped count Vergennes Union High School budget votes before they met, they also heard from Hawley that the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad’s request for per capita support from the towns it serves has increased from $5 to $6.50.
VARS is an on-budget expense in Vergennes and other communities it serves. Hawley said VARS also raises money by selling subscriptions to residents of its service towns, billing for services to residents without subscriptions, and soliciting donations.
Aldermen decided to invite VARS President Steve Fleming to their May 20 meeting to discuss the increase. 

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