By Stephanie Choate
January 9th, 2014
As January rolls along, the Williston Selectboard is getting closer to its final municipal budget proposal for fiscal year 2015. The budget is set to be completed by the end of this month.
The Selectboard heard presentations from the Recreation and Parks and Public Works departments on Jan. 6, as well the Cemetery Commission. It also held its official public hearing.
The proposed figures for the recreation budget took a refreshing direction for the Selectboard: south.
The operating budget—which includes recreation programs, Fourth of July and Memorial Day funding, park maintenance, Old Brick Church upkeep and cemetery maintenance—was proposed at $571,990 down approximately $10,600 from last year.
Town Manager Rick McGuire said the board may not see this reprieve again.
“I think you’re going to find that this budget’s going to come under increasing pressure in future years because there’s groups that are not being served as fully as I think the demand is going to be,” he said, mentioning seniors in particular.
Revenue from the recreation programs is projected at $210,500, plus $4,000 from rental of the Brick Church.
Public Works Director Bruce Hoar presented an overview of the highway operating budget of approximately $1.49 million, up approximately $65,000 from last year’s budget.
Hoar said one of the major changes is cost of the town’s private plow contractors. That line item increased by approximately $18,000, since the department uses a three-year average for plowing costs to estimate the amount needed.
Hoar also fessed up for his possible role in the icy weather, saying he reduced the department’s line item for salt for the first time in his career.
“I might have jinxed us,” he said.
The Cemetery Commission also presented a budget of $28,000 for cemetery and memorial garden care.
“We’re spending the modest amount of money that we have as wisely as we can to keep the cemeteries in good order,” chairman Brian Meisenzahl said.
McGuire added that the cemetery budget has a negative balance of approximately $11,000 from several years ago, which will have to be addressed at some point.
As proposed, the total municipal budget is $9,919,030—a 10.5 percent increase over last year’s budget. A large chunk of the increase is due to a new state and federally mandated stormwater management system, but the spending would be offset by revenue from a new fee for property owners.
The board is set to examine the final sections of the budget on Jan. 13. Deliberations are set for Jan. 21. The board is scheduled to finalize and adopt the budget on Jan. 27. Residents will vote on the budget in March.