Weathersfield completes budget, approves fire article

Would increase the local homestead tax rate only nominally

By JEFF EPSTEIN 

vtreporter@eagletimes.com

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WEATHERSFIELD, Vt. — The select board wrapped up a municipal 2019-20 budget of more than $2 million Monday.

The proposed general fund is $1,268,472. The highway budget is $1,224,522, and the solid waste budget is $261,512.

Based on all funds combined, an approved budget at the March town meeting would bring a local homestead tax rate of 0.6470 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, an increase of 0.0095 cents, according to town figures.

The select board, on a 3-2 vote, accepted a petition to add an article to the town meeting warrant. The requested question was: “Shall the town vote to spend $265,070 — of which $245,070 to be raised by taxes — for a new municipal fire department for fiscal year 2019-20?”

The wording of the article was slightly modified from the text of the petition to conform to the language of other articles, preserving essentially the same request. The final phrase was changed to “shall be raised by property taxation, allowing the select board to set the appropriate tax rate.”

But select board chair Kelly Murphy said the petition language should have been adopted verbatim.

The fire department question prompted select board member Tom Leach to comment on his view of controversy “fueled by misinformation … and fearmongering” on social media. 

“I thought the way it was done was inappropriate,” Leach said, referring to comments on social media.

Anyone with questions, he said, can view the video record of select board meetings on the internet, where recorded meetings are available for playback on demand. Official meeting minutes are available on the town website, he added.

The tax needed to be raised for the general fund in the proposed budget is $1,115,040. The highway fund tax is $947,777, county taxes $25,300 and local education taxes $17,191 (this figure is from last year, town officials said.)

All contributed slightly to the tax rate increase, with the exception of the highway fund, which is expected to be slightly less than this year.

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