Fayston municipal budget is up slightly

Fayston Select Board has put forth a tight budget for the coming year that has expenditures up $4,456 over last year's approved budget.

Last year's approved budget was $1,112,942, but the actual expenses in 2014 were $1,026,445. That means that this year's budget of $1,117,498 is $91,043 more than the town spent last year.

Last year the town spent $111,781 for employee benefits, including hospitalization, retirement payroll taxes, uniforms and dental. In 2015, those costs are projected at $131,100.

In 2014, the town spent $96,059 on highway equipment and this year expenditures of $104,200 are expected. Salaries for the road department last year came to $141,311. This year those workers' wages will total $153,000.

Fayston, like other Valley towns, faced increases in the costs of highway supplies. Last year the town spent $11,203 for sand and anticipates spending $14,000 this year. Last year the town spent $34,445 on salt and anticipates salt costs of $35,000 in 2015.

Last year the town budgeted $1,500 for heating the municipal building but spent $3,389. This year the town is budgeting $2,500.

Salaries for employees at the town offices were $100,120 last year and will rise to $105,710. The cost of the town's zoning and planning office were $49,085 last year. This year those costs are $57,581.

Fayston's contribution to the Waitsfield-Fayston Fire Department was budgeted at $35,700 last year, but actual costs were $27,230. In 2015, the town has budgeted $37,866 for fire protection.

Moretown's town budget down from 2014

Coming in at $1,062,837, Moretown’s town budget is down 0.56 percent from last year’s budget of $1,068,802. That number includes only town expenditures, as Moretown will not know its expected revenue until after tax time.

Included in those expenditures, town employees will receive a 2.5 percent raise across the board for this year – the same as employees for the state of Vermont. In 2015, town employees will continue to pay for 0 percent of their health insurance premiums and 50 percent for each of their dependents.

Moretown’s budget for FY2015 includes an extra $15,000 to update the town’s tax maps, which contributes to a 90.3 percent increase from last year’s total listers’ expenditure of $17,900, coming in at $34,064 for FY2015.

This year, the town has allotted for a $4,500 stipend for fire department volunteers where previously it had allotted no stipend, as well as $12,000 for dispatching services – a 60 percent increase from FY2014. All in all, the fire department’s expenditures increased 20.73 percent, from $48,482 for FY2014 to $58,536 for FY2015.

On the other hand, the total vehicles and highway equipment expenditure decreased 16.63 percent this year, from $105,200 for FY2014 to $87,700 for FY2015, and the total debt retirement expenditures for the highway department decreased 19.78 percent from last year, from $135,262 in FY2014 to $108,509 in FY2015, as interest and loan payments on trucks and equipment have gone down.

Waitsfield voters will see budget presented differently this year

By Lisa Loomis

Based on recommendations of a committee appointed to improve Town Meeting attendance and participation, Waitsfield voters will see their town budget presented using pie charts, graphs and other visuals designed to make it easier to understand the numbers.

Last year at Town Meeting, voters approved shifting the town from a calendar year budget to a July 1 to June 30 budget. The result is a complex budget spreadsheet with separate columns for January 2014 to June 2014. The next budget year started July 1, 2014, and runs through this June.

The July 2014 to June 30, 2015, net total expenses for Waitsfield are budgeted at $1,025,035. The July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, projection is $1,368,218.

The next budget sees a reduction in town clerk and treasurer costs from $80,277 to $67,000. Select board costs are expected to rise from $70,620 to $79,870.

Road department labor costs are rising from $139,035 to $149,076 and salt costs are rising from $28,000 to $35,000. The cost of plowing the sidewalks, which falls under the road department budget, is projected to increase from $25,000 to $28,500. The bottom line for the road department is a reduction, however, from the current budget year's $328,281 to the new budget's $325,779.

Employee benefits for the town of Waitsfield will fall from $134,412 to $128,641. The town's health care costs are projected to drop $10,000.

Net fire department expenses will rise from $53,746 to $56,799 and the town also has a separate Town Meeting article calling for $45,000 to finance part of the cost of replacing the fire departments SCBA and air storage cylinders.

When Waitsfield voters take up the town budget at Town Meeting this year, they will find a several charts and graphs created by town administrator Valerie Capels that will help illustrate town spending and the tax implications of specific spending decisions.

For example, the proposed budget will yield a municipal tax rate of $0.3455. For a house appraised at $100,000 the tax rate would result in municipal taxes of $345. For a house appraised at $300,000 that tax rate would result in a municipal tax bill of $1,036, and $1,727 for a house appraised at $500,000.

A similar table shows the impact of various spending articles on homes appraised at $100,000, $300,000 and $500,000. Other graphs show the town's labor and benefit costs from 2013 to 2016 as well as road department expenses for that time period.

Warren budget up slightly

Coming in at $3,059,795, Warren's town budget is up 2.92 percent from last year's budget of $2,973,009. The 2015 budget number includes all expenditures minus expected revenue.

The 2015 budget includes 3.5 percent raises for all town employees – just above the 2.5 percent raises granted to employees for the state of Vermont. Like last year, Warren town employees will continue to pay for 5 percent of their health insurance premiums for single-person plans, 10 percent for two-person plans and 15 percent for family plans.

Increases in expenditures are small across most town departments in Warren, with the biggest change in money being allotted to the fire department, whose budget increased 36.18 percent from last year, from $74,630 for 2014 to $101,630 for 2015.

The increased fire department budget comes in part from recommendations made by an independent consultant the town hired to evaluate the department last year. Per those recommendations, the town has allotted an extra $20,000 for repairs and maintenance and an extra $6,000 for minor equipment, as the town will be purchasing new air packs for its volunteer crew.

Despite an extra $30,000 allotted for paving, an extra $13,000 allotted for sand and an extra $10,000 allotted for oil, Warren's highway department expenditures decreased 9.88 percent from last year. The town's $274,137 investment in bridges and major culverts is up 53.79 percent from last year, but with the help of state and federal grants totaling $335,000, the net highway department budget comes in at $1,120,013 – a 15.64 percent decrease from last year.

This year, the town will begin making payments toward the solar array bond to cover the cost of the panels installed on the edge of Brooks Field at Warren Elementary School last fall. For 2015, Warren has allotted $36,524 for the bond.