The Town Council added a mechanism to the proposed FY16 budget for expending funds generated by the Airport Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District on a new traffic light on Pettengill Road.
With a vote of 5-0 during their Jan. 22 public hearing on the 2015 Warrant, the Council increased the budget by $250,000 and increased anticipated revenues by $250,000. Because the Town anticipates the TIF will generate significantly more revenue than just the $250,000 for the traffic light, the additions wash out, Town Manager Kevin Smith explained.
“We need a mechanism for those expenditures, and the most expedient was to add them to the operating budget and not have to go through the process of setting up separate funding,” he said.
It’s estimated the traffic signal will be installed in January of next year.
The change to Article 3 results in no tax impact and the amount approved does not become part of the default budget.
The Budget Committee moved the amended budget of $28.5 million to the warrant and voted 7-0 in favor of the article.
The Council additionally moved Article 9 to the warrant and voted 5-0 in support of both establishing and funding with an appropriation of $28,000 a GIS (Geographic Information System) Capital Reserve.
In response to questions as to whether or not establishing the new fund and raising the appropriation for the fund should be separated into two separate warrant articles, Smith said the State’s advice to pose the question as one warrant article is the preferred way.
The Budget Committee also voted to move Article 9 to the warrant and supported the article with a 7-0 vote.
Finally, the Council addressed an issue with Article 14, a citizen’s petition to raise $400,000 for four additional firefighters that they had moved to the warrant on Jan. 19.
Smith said the language of the article wasn’t consistent with the language of the petition filed with the Town.
Councilor John Farrell asked if the Council remains unbound by the article to hire new firefighters or staff 10 firefighters on a 24-hour basis if the amended article were to pass. Smith said if passed, the Town would only be obligated to raise the $400,000. The appropriation would become a part of the default budget.
“We just have to trust next year’s council that they will be straight with you. If we don’t hire the firefighters, we’ll have a lot of additional default to talk about,” he said.
The council voted 2-2-1 in favor of Article 14 as amended, with Councilors Joe Green and Tom Freda voting against the article.
Council Vice Chairman Jim Butler abstained from voting, saying he has a family member who stands to gain financially from the decision.
The Budget Committee voted 6-1 in favor of the article, with Dana Coons voting against it.
The following are the Budget Committee’s votes on the remaining articles the Council passed to the warrant:
Article 2, Expendable Maintenance Trust Fund – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 4, Fund Special Revenue Account – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 5, Fund the Sewer Fund – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 6, Fire Department equipment – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 7, Roadway Maintenance Trust Fund – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 8, Zoning Ordinance Update/Rewrite – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 10, Appropriate Funds to Capital Reserve Funds to Expand Cemeteries, to replace Highway Heavy Equipment, Fire Equipment and Highway Trucks – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 11, Police Department Personnel Costs – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 12, Discontinue Ambulance Capital Reserve Fund – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 7-0.
Article 13, Purchase of Conservation Easement – the Budget Committee recommends with a vote of 5-2, with Dana Coons and Bill Mead voting against recommending the article.
Residents may amend the articles at the Town’s Deliberative Session, which is to be held Feb. 7 at 9 a.m.