The Waitsfield Select Board finalized its budget and will be asking voters to approve the $2,673,901 FY24 spending plan at Town Meeting next month.
The proposed budget is up 10% over last year’s budget, an increase of $243,506. Some of that increase is due to the town changing the town treasurer position to be treasurer and grant administrator and making it full time. That added some $40,000 in expenses to the budget for FY24. The town used American Rescue Act Funds to cover the cost of expanding the treasurer position for the balance of 2023.
Another area of increase is in law enforcement costs. The town contracts with the Washington County Sheriff’s office for traffic patrol. The department let the town know that hourly rates would increase from $37 an hour to $60 an hour. The town has historically budgeted for 13 hours a week and the town is dropping that down to 10 hours a week in the proposed budget.
Road department costs are going up 15.7%, or $80,275. Employee benefits will increase by 43.5%, adding $75,434 for a total employee benefit cost of $248,907. Fire department costs are up 18.5% or $27,285. Road department wages increased 4% from FY23 to FY24, but that follows an earlier increase in FY23 for road department wages.
Town office employees, including the planning and zoning administrator, town administrator and town clerk went up 15%. Select board expenses are up by 17.2%, or $13,231 which represents increasing the cost of the town website from $750 to $3,000 in expectation of revamping it. Other increases come from salaries for the town administrator and recording secretary.
Planning and zoning costs are up 17.3% or $11,125 -- wage increases of $9,125 and an additional $2,000 for special planning projects.
There is a category of expenses that the town classifies as miscellaneous which is increasing 48.9% from $28,270 to $42,000. Of that increase, $17,000 is a town contribution to the cemetery commission. That line item was added to cover cemetery operations costs. Cemetery Trust income typically covers cemetery operating costs but there is an anticipated shortfall in FY24.