Thursday January 26, 2017
The South Burlington City Council and School Board, in conjunction with their respective administrative teams, have been hard at work formulating budgets that support their objectives while keeping an eye on cost containment. Both the council and school board have proposed tax increases, but were thoughtful in developing the plans for their additions, reductions, and what items would need to remain at their current level of funding. Within one evening of each other, the two entities unanimously passed their budgets, setting in motion the process of getting information out to the public prior to town meeting day in March.
The FY 18 proposed budget was unanimously approved by the council late on the evening of January 17. At a special budget meeting January 9, council heard from department heads, and members of the public with “11th” hour appeals for funding for various projects such as additional line striping, energy efficiency,and funding for a water and sewer line to the Wheeler Property, necessary for the installation of a dry sprinkler system. While no additional dollars were appropriated in FY18 for projects, the council agreed to designate some carryover money from the General Fund in FY17 to help with additional striping, and money for stewardship projects to include additional energy efficient initiatives.
According to Deputy City Manager Tom Hubbard, the FY 2018 General Fund budget expenditures are proposed at $24,166,563, an increase of $1,231,954 over the current fiscal year. General Fund non-property tax revenues are $9,755,146, an increase of $816,179 over FY17.General Fund property tax revenues (Tax Levy) will increase by $415,775 to $14,411,418. The property tax rate needed is $0.4883, an increase of $0.0146 (cents) over the FY17 approved budget, or 2.97 percent overall. This equates to an annual increase of $49.01 for the average homeowner, and $33.22 annual increase to the average condo owner. The average home is based on an assessed value of $335,839 and the average condo is based on an assessed value of $227,647.
The proposed budget meets all of the city’s contractual obligations. It continues support for the sick bank and stewardship fund as well as the housing trust fund, and funds 2/3 of the capital improvement program (CIP). While there was 1.5 percent growth in the grand list last year, the amount gained was negated by the airport settlement with the City of Burlington. The budget does not provide for a stabilization fund or an increase in the stewardship fund. Major cost drivers came from health insurance at an 8 percent increase and an over $300,000 pension contribution.
Visit the Education section to view the school budget.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent