2018-02-08 / Front Page

Your Taxes to Go Up by at Least 5 Cents

The budget for the Town of Northfield was approved by the Selectboard last week. Finance Director Laurie Baroffio said based on the estimated Grand List, this budget would add about five cents to the tax rate, which would be a six percent increase. She noted that this does not include all the special articles to be voted upon at Town Meeting Day. For a homestead appraised at $250,000, this would mean a $125 property tax increase. 
A the major issue with the town warning which was approved at the same meeting,  Article 11, which would ask voters to “authorize the expenditure of $25,000 for the purpose of purchasing, at a total cost of $35,000, the 48.9-acre parcel at the summit of Paine Mountain and adding it to the Town Forest, the remaining $10,000 of the total cost to be obtained through fundraising and donation...” 
Town Manager Jeff Schulz said the parcel has been appraised at $45,000. Selectman David Maxwell suggested that the article be amended  to authorize the Select Board to make the purchase but would not require it. 
Manager Schulz noted Articles 4 through 6 seek voter approval for the transfer of reserve funds to other accounts, mainly to the RSMS program and the Sidewalks account. Selectman Maxwell is concerned voters won’t know the acronym RSMS is short for “Road Surface Management System.” There was no objection to spelling out the acronym the first time it appears on the warning. 
Article 8 would seek voter authorization for “borrowing an amount not to exceed sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) for a period of not more than five (5) years for improvements to the fire station roof...” Ms. Baroffio said the borrowing period is set at five (5) years because any longer than that would require an Australian Ballot vote. After discussion, it was decided to change the article wording to “not more than three (3) years...” 
Article 12 would seek voter approval to “authorize the Select Board to use not more than $15,000 of existing economic development funds to remove and replace the Welcome signs...” Manager Schulz said this article also is the result of a petition. Several of the Select Board members were concerned by this article’s wording because when the group behind this effort addressed the Select Board last fall, it was said the proposed article would seek $1,500 in public funds and there was no reference to using economic development funds. Selectman Maxwell felt even if this article is approved by the voters, the Select Board members should not feel compelled to spend the full authorized amount. 
The Select Board then held a brief discussion of Article 13, which seeks voter approval for the expenditure of not more than $21,000 for the continued operation of the Northfield-Montpelier commuter bus service. Although some members questioned whether the value of this service justified the stated cost, there was no change to the article. 
Articles 14 through 32 have the requests of regional non-profits organizations seeking between $250 and $12,400. Selectman Lynn Doney would like voters to be aware how much approval of all these articles would add to the tax rate. 

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