BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard got a step closer toward finalizing the fiscal year 2014 budget at Tuesday night's board meeting, but stopped short of putting the final touches on the spending plan.
The board has already worked through hours of previous budget meetings, and the capital plan and general fund budgets are mostly finalized.
The board members have been struggling to figure out how to pay for the projected expenses and at the meeting Tuesday they continued discussions about using some of the capital plan surplus, or the general fund unassigned balance, to pay for the 2014 expenses.
After debating the various options, the board decided to schedule one more budget meeting on Jan. 10 to finalize the budget in time for March's Representative Town Meeting.
The town has about $1.6 million in unassigned funds available in its general fund, and another $879,000 in the capital budget, which is available due to former projects that came in under budget after the town had already borrowed the money.
The board is trying to finalize its $15.7 million general fund budget and capital plan, without raising the tax rate too much.
The board will likely use some of the general fund balance and capital plan surplus to plug that gap.
Sondag said the town has done a good job controlling its expenditures and also collecting taxes, and the budget surplus has accumulated over the previous seven years.
Selectboard member David Gartenstein cautioned his fellow board members on making a decision based on how the money was raised.
"It's all taxpayer money," he said.
Town Meeting Representatives would have to approve moving any money out of the capital plan.
And board member Chris Chapman said the lessons learned during Tropical Storm Irene taught the town how important it was to have cash on hand.
Chapman said the town was able to weather the infrastructure damage because it had cash on hand and he wanted to make sure the fund balance remained strong.
The Vermont League of Cities and Towns recommends that municipalities have about a 10 percent surplus of their general fund budget available.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.