This is a busy time of year at Town Hall. We are having an in person budget meeting tomorrow night at the Emergency Services Center on Route 7 South at 7 PM. There has been a lot of misinformation around the budget in the town and that is your chance to express your opinion on what we plan to do in the next year.
In the past 5 years, the town budget has increased by a little under 7 percent. Last year, in fear that our town tax collection may be dramatically affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, we decided to not put any money aside for our reserve accounts. These are the savings accounts that the town has in order to have the money available to purchase things like new trucks or pay for expenses that we know will happen periodically like revaluations. This year we are restoring these contributions and have increased this line item by about $10,000 to prepare for investments in the town infrastructure in future fiscal years. If we had not done so, we would have had to have a larger tax increase last year as it would have reduced our general funds balance to an unacceptable level. We did decrease the general fund by about $300,000. This was due mainly to a $230,000 increase in our pupil charges at Region One which could not have happened at a worse time.
This year, our total school budget is down $120,000, mainly due to our pupil charges going down at Region One. The Kellogg School board also deferred a lot of technology needs for a year to help alleviate the pressure that the Region One budget had placed on the town as a whole.
We have sold the water works which will end up adding somewhere between $185,000 to the general fund after paying off the remaining debt of the water works which was $198,000. Our grand list increased by 3.29 percent which will give us additional tax revenue of about $154,000. Also, the federal government is granting the town $103,000 through the American Recovery Act. Also, to alleviate the pressure put on the town through much higher tipping fees for our refuse, we are increasing out transfer station fees by 50%. They will still be the lowest in the area.
We know that taxes are important to all of our residents. We do the best that we can to keep our budgets as close to the bone as possible but we do have to make sure that we are paving the roads, plowing them in the winter, maintaining the functions of government that are mandated by law and ensuring that we do what we believe are in the best interests of the townspeople.
After the Town Hearing, the Board of Finance will make a final recommendation to Town Meeting on the budget that they propose for adoption. Remember that the Board of Selectmen only propose a budget. It is the Board of Finance that adopts it. This is probably their most important function and they take it very seriously.
The Town Meeting will be held in person at the Fire House on June 2, 2021 at 7 PM. There will be a couple of minor additional issues to be considered.
On June 7,2021, there will be a hearing for the CDBG grant at 7 PM that is part of the grant process for the River Road home project. There will be informational presentations by the Falls Village Housing Trust, David Berto, the housing grant writer and then time for public comment. The agenda is set by the DOH and we will follow it to the letter.
On Memorial Day, there will be no parade but there will be a short celebration on the Village Green at 10 AM. Everyone is welcome.
A final note is that Governor Lamont has removed most of the mandates for masks both indoors and out. We do request that residents who are not vaccinated and attend crowded indoor town events to wear a mask. Also, we are fully opening Town Hall on June 1, 2021. We are pleased that our town came through this horrific pandemic largely untouched. This can be attributed to the town’s residents who have been so cooperative during the last 16 months. We are at the end of the tunnel and we appreciate all that you have done to keep yourself and others safe.