Tuesday February 26, 2013

WESTMINSTER -- Town voters will be able to reduce the late-tax penalty for delinquent taxes by voting in favor of Article 3 of the Town Warrant in Bellows Falls Union High School Auditorium on Saturday.

Adoption of the article would lower the tax penalty from 8 percent to 3 percent, as long as all taxes, penalty and interest are paid within 30 days of the second installment's due date.

Westminster Town Manager Matt Daskal told the Reformer this change could be helpful to people who have forgotten to file their taxes or are for whatever reason unable to do so on time.

He said, however, that even if Article 3 is adopted 8 percent interest will be accrued after the 30-day period following the second installment's due date.

Daskal said Article 4 is aimed to save money for Westminster.

A "yes" vote would allow the town to notify residents when the financial audit becomes available in lieu of publication in the annual town report, as required by Vermont law. The audit currently is printed in the town report and that task carries with it printing and mailing costs. He said the town has gotten feedback that indicated the audit is an important document, but it is not necessarily one that everybody reads.

Allowing the town to provide public notice of the audit, without having to mail it to all residents, would save money and time. The town would mail or distribute a copy of the audit to any registered voter upon request.

Article 4 says notice of availability must be provided no less than 30 days before the annual meeting by publication on the town's website (www.westminstervt.org), in the Reformer and the Westminster Gazette. Copies of the audit would be available at Westminster Town Hall, the Westminster West Library and the Butterfield Library.

If voters adopt Article 9 it will mean they approve total general fund expenditures of $1,814,795 for the period beginning July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, of which $1,578,625 shall be raised by taxes and $383,670 by non-tax revenues.

Adoption of Article 5 would raise and appropriate an amount not to exceed $37,000 to support a shared services contract with the Windham County Sheriff's Department and the town of Putney. Daskal said there has been a community conversation about offering greater contract services through Westminster, and adopting the article would assign the equivalent of a full-time sheriff's deputy to the community.

Article 7 seeks to raise and appropriate $130,000 for the Town Highway Equipment Reserve Fund while Article 8 looks to add $15,000 for the Bridge Rehabilitation Reserve Fund. Daskal said those are typical figures for the funds each year.

A sum of $2,500 would be appropriated for the Westminster Recreation Club if Article 6 is adopted. According to the warrant, that money would be used to purchase insurance and for swimming pool maintenance.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.