On Tuesday, January 19, the Warren Select Board approved a 2021 town budget of $3,274,738 in total gross expenditures. With the $310,761 that the town expects to collect in revenue (not including taxes), that number drops down to $2,936,997.
This budget is 12.74% lower than last year’s budget of $3,396,898. Before approving the budget, Warren Select Board chair Andrew Cunningham explained where these expenditure drops came from, starting with the town’s capital fund. “Last year we had money for paving and that money is still in our capital account because we didn’t use it. That’s one of the reasons that our capital account is asking for less this year, because we have some money saved now to do the projects that we hoped to do last year or other projects that we are thinking are more pertinent for this year,” said Cunningham.
BRIDGE REPAIR FUND
Additionally, the town cut its bridge repair fund in half this year, from $50,000 to $25,000. “We’ve done a lot of the bridge work that we thought we needed to do. We definitely want to keep money in there, but we’re not thinking we need quite the same amount,” said Cunningham.
“Those are the big take aways. We’ve added $10,000 to the fire department equipment fund, we’ve taken away $25,000 from the bridge repair fund,” said Cunningham. “Everything else is level funded.”
Cunningham noted that the 13% budget drop reflects the money that that the town raised last year and didn’t spend “as well as some other savings that we found.” He called last year’s budget a “non-spending budget” due to the coronavirus and “our being very conservative with the cash on hand last year.”
At the meeting, the board also voted to approve a series of Australian ballot items that voters will see when they pick up their mail-in ballot or get a ballot at the polls on Town Meeting Day. Warren will not be automatically mailing ballots to every voter this year: residents must call the town office to request their ballots.
Among these Australian ballot items were three articles that could pose an extra cost to the town and drive the total budget up if passed by the voters. First, the town will ask voters to approve a $15,000 transfer to the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service (MRVAS) to go towards replacing an old ambulance and ensuring that MRVAS has enough resources to maintain EMS readiness. Warren residents voted and passed this article for the exact same amount last year.
Second, Warren will ask voters to approve allocating $20,000 to Warren’s Conservation Reserve Fund for land conservation projects. This is the same amount that Warren voters approved last year. However, since Town Meeting won’t be held in person this year, there will be no opportunity to change this amount. Warren voters must simply vote yes or no on the article.
Finally, Warren will ask its voters to authorize allocating $4,000 to the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition to fund their effort to create affordable