BELLOWS FALLS -- The amount of the village’s budget to be raised by taxes will increase 1.74 percent if the proposed figures are adopted by residents next week.
The Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees finalized a proposed budget in March and it will be up for a vote as the fourth article of the annual warrant at Village Meeting on May 19. The proposed budget of $1,851,602 in expenditures (with $1,803,252 to be raised by taxes) includes the $6,500 Trustee Andrew Smith requested for enforcement of the village’s safe building ordinance for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2014, and ending June 30, 2015. If passed as is, the tax rate of the village will be .6838, up from .6714 last year.
Village Meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Bellows Falls Opera House on Monday.
Adopting a village budget was an obstacle last year, as voters rejected their trustees’ initial proposal at Village Meeting. It took two more attempts before residents, in June, adopted a budget of $1,883,182 -- with $1,772,307 to be raised by taxes. The accepted budget omitted 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 the month prior. Going without a ninth officer saved $92,000 in salary, benefits and overtime, according to Municipal Manager Willis D. "Chip" Stearns II.
Article 5 of this year’s village warrant asks if voters will authorize the trustees to borrow up to $42,000 -- for not more than a three-year term -- to purchase a vehicle for the Bellows Falls Fire Department. According to an e-mail from Fire Chief Bill Weston to Stearns in March, the pick-up truck the department currently uses had started to "knock," which he suspected would likely get worse and cause the engine to fail. There are also issues with the vehicle’s heater fan motor, suspension and steering, and the back bumper was severely rusted. Stearns told the Reformer on Wednesday the vehicle is still operational, but it would not make sense to put any more money into it.
Stearns said adoption of Article 5 would add .0159 to the tax rate.
Village Meeting is the just the beginning of Bellows Falls politics this year, as residents will vote via Australian ballot for village officials. Polls at the Masonic Temple will open at 9 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. on May 20.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.