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Middlebury floats small town budget increase

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents at town meeting will consider a fiscal year 2019 municipal budget of $10,574,426, of which $7,331,905 would be raised through local property taxes. It’s a proposed spending plan that would result in an increase of about one-third of one penny in the community’s current municipal rate of 98.2 cents.
One penny on Middlebury’s property tax rate raises roughly $75,000.
The Middlebury selectboard at its most recent meeting agreed to warn the budget, which will be voted by attendees at the community’s annual meeting on Monday, March 5, at 7 p.m. at Mary Hogan Elementary School. It continues a pattern of what have essentially been level-funded municipal budget requests during much of the past decade.
“A major goal of the board has been to minimize property tax increases,” Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay said.
Major financial drivers for the proposed budget include:
•  A combined $184,790 increase in contracted salaries and benefits for municipal employees.
•  A $57,484 bump in investments in town roads, bridges, culverts and other capital projects. Voters — through a separate article on the town meeting warning — will be asked to apply $57,484 in local option tax surplus to pay for the proposed bump in capital improvements.
•  A $36,230 decrease in anticipated property and casualty insurance premiums.
•  A $24,560 decrease in costs of the police K-9 program. Ramsay noted last year’s outlay was larger because it included start-up expenses for the new police dog.
•  A $17,016 decrease in debt service.
•  A $20,102 decrease in equipment fund expenses.
As was the case last year, the selectboard agreed to apply $150,000 from municipal savings to offset some of the tax impact of the proposed spending plan.
Town meeting in Middlebury is shaping up to be a fairly basic affair. Aside from the budget and local option tax surplus votes, the warning features only one other notable item — a selectboard request to borrow up to $122,400 over five years to replace a police cruiser, a street sweeper, a skid steer and an asphalt hot box.
Voters will cast ballots on March 6 in local elections for various municipal and school offices. The exact slate of candidates won’t be known until the end of business on Monday, Jan. 29, that date by which hopefuls must file their petition papers at the town clerk’s office.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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