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Town mulls budget cuts for all departments

VERNON—With property taxes going up this year due to the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, the Selectboard is asking each department head to cut their Fiscal Year 2018 budget by 6 percent.

The request was proposed during the July 25 regular Selectboard meeting, when Treasurer Cindy Turnley announced the 2016 property tax rate: $1.7537 per $100 of assessed value for residents; $1.6935 for non-residents.

“This is approximately $185.20 more per $100,000 per assessed value for a homestead [tax] rate,” Turnley said.

“Somewhere, there’s something that they have to find” to cut from the budget, said Board Chair Christiane Howe, “because we cannot keep going like this."

The Board recently held the first in a series of public meetings to discuss the proposed budget cuts.

At a Sept. 20 Special Board meeting, three department heads detailed how these cuts would affect their operations.

Nancy Durborow, treasurer of the Vernon Seniors, said this reduction — from $2,520.24 to $2,350 — will force them to cut programs and scholarships.

Chair of the Listers Carol Hammond told the Board her department cut 3 1/2 hours from the salary line item and $175 from travel and conferences expenditures to achieve the 6 percent cut. She told Board members she is concerned the salary reduction may cause the affected employee to resign.

Stephen Skibniowsky, representing the Planning and Economic Development commissions, said travel and conference figures would be reduced to meet the Board’s request. Skibniowsky also serves on the Board.

The Selectboard took no action at the Sept. 20 meeting, and budget-cut talks are expected to continue.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #378 (Wednesday, October 12, 2016). This story appeared on page C1.

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