A - Town General

Posted on: December 14, 2017

Manager's Message (12/11)

Dawn Francis, Town Manager

Proposed Budget FY19

The proposed FY 19 budget maintains our current level of service and addresses increased service demands caused by slow, steady growth over the past decade.

Budget and Tax Rate

The Operating Budget is comprised of twenty-five service categories.  Five of these service categories have been reduced. Before factoring in non-tax revenues, the operating budget increase is 2.9%; after subtracting revenues, the net operating budget funded by property taxes increased by $170,538 or 1.67%.  Changes are comprised of:

  • 1.1% ($138,496) to maintain current services
  • 1.8% ($225,500) for additional services including:
    • $41,000: Volunteer fire department operating and capital expense increases, including local match to a federal grant program to fund two full-time firefighters to provide daytime coverage
    • $76,000: Rescue staff member to address rescue call increases of 25% since 2011
    • $35,000: Parks staff changes from two seasonal positions to one year-round position.
    • $73,500: Police staff change to add an additional police officer to address needs growth including 91 commercial properties and 1,335 residential units since 2000

The Capital Budget consists of capital borrowing and capital plans that have been previously authorized by voters.  The capital budget totals $1,661,705 and increased by $21,376 or 1.3% over the FY 18 capital budget.  The local option tax will pay for $594,463 in voter approved projects.  The property tax funded portion of the capital budget is $1,067,242 and increases by $12,125 or 1.1% over last year.

The Combined Operating and Capital Budget is $11,459,649, net of non-property tax revenues. This is an increase of 3.2% ($355,367) over the FY 2018 Combined Budget. With an estimated 1.29% growth in the Grand List the estimated municipal tax rate for FY 2019 is $0.5370. The tax rate is estimated to increase by one cent or a 1.89% increase over the prior year.

Reduced Taxes

  • In June 2017, the Selectboard set the FY 18 Town tax rate of $0.5271 per hundred dollars of property value.  This rate was less than the rate of $0.5370 set seven years ago for the FY 2012 tax bills.
  • Based on 2017-18 taxes, our rate is the second lowest per resident among the seven inner Chittenden county communities.

How is this tax rate reduction possible?

Budget Approach

  • Minimize Expenses (1.1% increase for same level of services)
    • Focus first on holding down and reducing expenses
    • Constant re-evaluation of service delivery
  • Maximize Non-Property Tax Revenues
    • Fee based service evaluation
    • Increase in non-tax revenues, such as fees and grants, which cover $2,157,913 or 17% of the general fund budget
    • The establishment of a stormwater utility reduced the property tax generated budget by $387,180.
    • Without the stormwater utility, the FY 18 tax rate would have been $0.5454, lower than the FY 2013 tax rate.
    • Revised approach to budget savings by applying it to future years’ financial obligations and reduced taxes.  Savings from approach was $153,000 in FY 15 and $266,000 in FY 17.
    • The use of local option tax to fund $627,964 of voter approved debt previously paid by property taxes.
  • Property Taxes are “last dollar in”
  • Growth and investment in Colchester increased property value by $150,005,900 (7.7%) from 2012 to 2018.

Additional Budget Information can be found at http://colchestervt.gov/349/Budget-Documents

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