Last week, Valley Reporter readers learned that Warren is in good shape for budget season with 95% of taxes already collected for 2020, and no major road projects coming up to drain the town’s funds in 2021.
The town even made a plan to create an affordable housing fund in an effort to attract a younger working population to the town.
RAISE FOR LIBRARIANS
At their latest meeting, on December 15, Warren Select Board members continued budget discussion, focusing the conversation on town employees.
To start, Warren residents can expect to see librarian staff salaries go up 2.5% in this year’s proposed budget, after librarians asked select board members for a raise. Initially, select board chair Andrew Cunningham thought about limiting the raise to 1.7%, after looking into an employer cost index published by the Vermont Department of Labor that helps understand the cost of living increase in the state.
“That number reflects this year’s economy, which is dismal. The number was 1.7% for the last 12 months,” he said. However, Cunningham said he would support a 2.5% raise for librarians given the strenuous circumstances of the year.
“All employees of this town have done an exemplary job. I’m proud of all of the employees in the town of Warren. I’m fine with 2.5%,” said Cunningham. “It’s really about how we approach this and respect both our employees and taxpayers. There’s two pieces here.”
Select board member Bob Ackland said he checked with other Valley towns, which are using 2.5% as a benchmark for town employee raises to cover the cost of living increase in 2020. “I think we have to have good employees and happy employees to satisfy the taxpayers,” said Ackland. “You can’t chip away at the town employees.”
“I would be supportive of 2.5%,” added select board member Camilla Behn.
In other town employee news, Warren is looking for people to fill several positions. First, there is a vacancy in the Warren Cemetery Committee. “John Goss is not coming back,” said Cunningham.
Warren also needs a new delinquent tax collector, which is an elected position. Select board members worried this might be a harder position to fill than the cemetery commission vacancy.
“Have you guys ever tried to go out and collect money from people who don’t pay their bills?” asked Ackland.
“They’re not very nice,” piped up town manager Cindi Jones.
“It’s going to be a challenge to get someone to fill that position,” said Ackland.
Cunningham, however, wasn’t worried. “It pays,” he said.
“That’s true,” agreed Ackland. “The incentive is pretty decent.”
FOURTH OF JULY
Finally, the town decided to leave money in the budget for a Fourth of July celebration this summer. “We probably won’t know until April,” said Cunningham about when the town will decide on whether or not to host a parade.
“But I think we should leave the money in the budget for the Fourth of July and hope that we can have a party,” said Cunningham. “Eventually, we gotta have a party!”