Annual Village Meeting to decide $1.93 million budget

Trustees suggest that Fire Dept. proposal will come to the floor

BELLOWS FALLS — Village voters will consider a proposed $1.93 million budgett - and possibly the fate of the fire department - during the business portion of the Annual Village Meeting on Monday, May 18, at 7 p.m., at the Bellows Falls Opera House.

Voters will decide by Australian ballot on Tuesday, May 19, which two of three candidates for Village Trustee will be seated on the board.

While an initial plan to reduce the budget was defeated during the budget process, Village President Nancy McAuliffe said it is likely to come up again at the Village Meeting.

This vote is expected to include a discussion introduced by McAuliffe, first in January budget meetings, and then to the public, to consider converting the Bellows Falls Fire Department from paid to volunteer, with the exception of the fire chief [see related story this issue].

“The village residents pay double taxes,” she said. “We need tax relief, and [that's] another reason why we need a merger of village and town.”

Career-staffed fire departments moving to all-volunteer firefighting forces is a trend, both McAuliffe and Trustee Sandy Martin have said.

According to the 2014 Bellows Falls Fire Department report, failed recruitment of paid on-call firefighters has already left vacancies in the department.

Village meeting, elections

Bellows Falls voters will begin discussing their budget options on Monday night at 7 p.m., in the Bellows Falls Opera House.

Voting on village officers takes place by Australian ballot, on Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 61 Westminster St. (the Masonic Temple).

In the only contested race, incumbent Trustee Colin James will face off against Evelyn Weeks and Deborah Wright for two trustee seats of two years each.

All remaining names on the ballot are incumbents.

On the ballot for the one-year seat of village president is Nancy McAuliffe. Also running unopposed: Moderator Michael P. Harty, Clerk Kerry Bennett, and Treasurer Donna Harty.

Two names also appear on the ballot for the three auditors of accounts: Pat Fowler and Michael “Mickey” Tolaro.

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