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Budget talks continue; highway cuts proposed

The budget work sessions are open to the public. For more information on the process and the schedule, contact the Town Offices at 802-257-0292.

VERNON—The Selectboard and department heads continue to work on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. At the Oct. 18 special budget work session, David Walker of the Highway Garage and Kevin Turnley of Buildings & Grounds discussed proposed cuts.

During the summer, the Board agreed all departments must cut their FY18 budgets by 6 percent in response to the town treasurer’s announcement that 2016 property taxes were going up by about $185 per $100,000 of assessed value for the homestead tax rate.

Since then, department heads have appeared, a few at a time, at the series of work sessions.

Walker told Selectboard members that Vernon’s garage “runs lean” compared with other towns of similar size, according to the meeting’s draft minutes.

Walker’s proposal would cut $19,204.78 from his department’s budget, a saving that comes mainly from removing the town van from its budget and from cutting “nonessential items” such as $5,000 for line striping.

The Board agreed the town van should have its own budget worksheet to improve transparency.

Although it isn’t reflected in this round of budget discussions, Walker said that by cutting parking lot maintenance at the school, fire department, and town offices, the highway department could save even more money.

Turnley cut 6.07 percent of the Buildings & Grounds budget by proposing reductions to his employees’ health insurance and his department’s supplies, grounds, custodial equipment, fuel oil, electricity, and equipment repairs. The Board decided to not demand Turnley cut his staff’s health insurance.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #381 (Wednesday, November 2, 2016). This story appeared on page E1.

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