BELLOWS FALLS - It's final: the Bellows Falls 2013-14 budget will remain as is, following a majority vote not to reconsider it.
Voters at Rockingham Town Hall opted 68-77 in favor of not reconsidering the figures at a special meeting Thursday night - two months after more than 91 people, the 5 percent of registered voters required by law, signed a petition to give them a chance to do just that.
The village's final budget will continue to be $1,883,182 (with $1,772,307 to be raised by taxes) for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2013, and ending on June 30, 2014.
This was the third vote on the budget, as village voters adopted the nearly $2 million budget by a 52-43 margin at a special meeting in June after having rejected the initial proposal (of $1,945,357, with $1,864,482 to be raised by taxes) at Village Meeting the month before. That forced the Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees to create a revised budget for the townspeople to vote on.
The budget omits a ninth officer for the Bellows Falls Police Department and about $900 in administration costs that had been included in the one presented to voters in May. Municipal Manager Willis D. "Chip" Stearns said the final figures had put the tax rate at .6698, up from .6417 from last year. Going without a ninth officer cut $92,000 in salary, benefits and overtime, he said.
If members of the voting public had passed the first article asking them if they wanted to reconsider the budget, they would have moved on to the next article, which pertained to the exact figure of the budget.
There initially were some questions about the language of the petition but Deputy Secretary of State Brian Leven stated in an e-mail that the petitioners' intent seemed clear to him and he encouraged the village trustees to honor the petition.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @dpoli_reformer