Budget almost level, but taxes may ri...

Budget almost level, but taxes may rise Lower revenues could drive increase

There are 31 comments on the Bennington Banner story from Dec 29, 2010, titled Budget almost level, but taxes may rise Lower revenues could drive increase. In it, Bennington Banner reports that:

The proposed town budget for fiscal year 2012 shows an increase of less than 1 percent over the current budget, but lower revenues could lead to a tax rate increase, according to Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd.

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REA

Washington, DC

#1 Dec 30, 2010
So we've been one officer down for a while? What impact did this have on overtime costs? Was crime higher during this period? What police activities were curtailed or investigations put on hold while this officer served in Afganistan? I'm not suggesting he shouldn't be reinstated (and by the way Hurd shouldn't have named him specifically as the cause of the higher budget) but it seems the Department is at least one staff position heavy; maybe the next time someone retires or takes another job they shouldn't be replaced.

Now is not the time to raise taxes. Freeze the wages (even the Federal employees aren't getting a raise for the next few years and that was mandated by law which the Pres. overrode) and fix the old car. Put the road project on hold - retiming the light or install an "adaptive signal controller"; it is far less expensive, won't disrupt traffic, and will actually do a better job than storing vehicles in a third lane waiting for the light.

I'm a "big government" supporter and even I see the waste here; come on sharpen your pencil, there is no need to raise the budget - actually you should be looking at ways to cut it!
rigs

Bennington, VT

#2 Dec 30, 2010
The logic of increasing property taxes during a recession is beyond me. Taxes are already too high.
vermonter

Brookline, MA

#3 Dec 30, 2010
rigs wrote:
The logic of increasing property taxes during a recession is beyond me. Taxes are already too high.
I agree,now is not the time to increase taxes;can barely afford them right now.Everything is going up except our incomes.Not even a COL increase in Social Security because the government says COL has not risen. Is this the "new math"?
GDog

Miami, FL

#4 Dec 30, 2010
That bridge is shot. Who's gonna pay the lawsuit when a car or truck is sitting in the river waiting for the new timed light.
Bandit

Bennington, VT

#5 Dec 30, 2010
In business if you can't meet the budget you have things like pay freezes and reductions in force. I guess these ideas don't apply to the government sector.
Tax Income is answer

Boston, MA

#6 Dec 30, 2010
why not approve the biomass powerplant.. wasnt the taxes on that thing gonna dounble the budget???

Since: Aug 10

Sunapee, NH

#7 Dec 30, 2010
The squirming begins....

Wait 'til they see their next Shumlin bill, uhhh, I mean electric bill.

The self-described big government guy now sees the waste, this is great! It's gonna be a fun year as more and more of the deluded arise from their slumber.
Vermonter

Bennington, VT

#8 Dec 30, 2010
REA wrote:
So we've been one officer down for a while? What impact did this have on overtime costs? Was crime higher during this period? What police activities were curtailed or investigations put on hold while this officer served in Afganistan? I'm not suggesting he shouldn't be reinstated (and by the way Hurd shouldn't have named him specifically as the cause of the higher budget) but it seems the Department is at least one staff position heavy; maybe the next time someone retires or takes another job they shouldn't be replaced.
Now is not the time to raise taxes. Freeze the wages (even the Federal employees aren't getting a raise for the next few years and that was mandated by law which the Pres. overrode) and fix the old car. Put the road project on hold - retiming the light or install an "adaptive signal controller"; it is far less expensive, won't disrupt traffic, and will actually do a better job than storing vehicles in a third lane waiting for the light.
I'm a "big government" supporter and even I see the waste here; come on sharpen your pencil, there is no need to raise the budget - actually you should be looking at ways to cut it!
I agree with you that Mr. Hurd should not have used John Behan as the reason that the police budget is up this year. John was serving his country and under federal law his job HAS to be there waiting for him when he comes home. Stu needs to not only sharpen his pencil, but sharpen his skills for explanation of the budget without setting the blame to one town employee. Shame on you Stu!!!!
REA

Washington, DC

#9 Dec 30, 2010
The stated reason for the bridge project is to widen it for a third lane not that its "shot"; if that was the case it would be replace as is or a major rehabilitation - far less expensive than a new wider bridge.

Bridges are rated for their structurally integrity (deficient) or design features (obsolete) but the numbers fall into the same pot. So even if the rating is low this doesn't mean it's going to fall down only that it doesn't have the supposed capacity or lane widths. In this case its caused by poorly coordinated signals, a new traffic generator (CVS), and driversí inability to understand who has the right of way.

I have not been in a "slumber" and I still believe government spending is fine when it goes towards things that 1)must be done to support/protect the population, 2)provide for economic vitality, or 3)correct some injustice; however, none of the things described which raise the budget seem to fit. Yes, spend the money on maintaining the police car and bridge. Yes, spend the money on using modern traffic signal technology. Yes, reinstate the officer who served; frankly even increase the budget if the money goes to needed and economically advantagous things, but there doesn't appear to be any thinking going on here.
Tired Of Flattys

Roy, WA

#10 Dec 30, 2010
It'll be interesting to see if shitsbury has another increase like last year. They were about the only town in Bennington County, maybe the state, to get up.

But then they have a selectboard made up of members that aren't hurting for money.
patriot

Arlington, VT

#11 Dec 30, 2010
The issue of Officer Behan's safe return is a red herring in terms of the back-and-forth on this board. Agreed, Hurd knew he was returning. I work for an employer that has a National Guard officer deployed to Afghanistan and had budgeted for 2011 anticipating that employee's return.

The bigger issue here is the double-digit health co-pay increase, a huge number. Also, what about the amount of money the town sets aside as a reserve for uncollected taxes? Is an increase anticipated? How many properties, commercial and residential are now in tax default or arrearage and what is the anticipated numberr for 2011?
jeff bombard

Bennington, VT

#12 Dec 30, 2010
reinstating behan should have been in the budget right along. come on stu get with the program.
Vermonter

Bennington, VT

#13 Dec 30, 2010
A 2 percent per contract increase in pay for the police dept. It's contracted, got to go with it, but a 13% increase in an employee's contribution to their health insurance seems to unbalance that contracted raise. Looks to me like the negotiating teams in town for the different agencies, like police, highway workers, etc. better put their heads together for better negotiators and look to the future of each contract. Health insurance is a huge expense for the town and the employee but the employees are taking the brunt of it this time around while seemingly getting that contracted raise. Times are tough out there but we'd better not be giving with one hand and taking away with the other. We'd do much better to put a freeze on anything not contracted at this point and bringing down that 13% to a single digit number.
Hoop de doo

Bennington, VT

#14 Dec 30, 2010
And what about the SVSU BUDGET INCREASE which has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TOWN BUDGET? We can only hold our town tax rate down for so long before it begins to affect our services. But the SVSU can INCREASE it's budget 15%?

Town voters should look carefully at the add-ons presented on Town Meeting day to town budget, items requested by independent organizations. Those items are NOT included in the proposed budget rate. It's time we pay attention and participate in the process, even before we go to the polls.
GDog

Miami, FL

#15 Dec 30, 2010
REA wrote:
The stated reason for the bridge project is to widen it for a third lane not that its "shot"; if that was the case it would be replace as is or a major rehabilitation - far less expensive than a new wider bridge.
Bridges are rated for their structurally integrity (deficient) or design features (obsolete) but the numbers fall into the same pot. So even if the rating is low this doesn't mean it's going to fall down only that it doesn't have the supposed capacity or lane widths. In this case its caused by poorly coordinated signals, a new traffic generator (CVS), and driversí inability to understand who has the right of way.
I am aware of how bridges are rated. The bridge is pre 1930 if I'm not mistaken and has taken a beating from salt. If the condition of the barriers is any indication of the rest of the superstructure, any reserve related to it's rated capacity is gone. I doubt the existing bridge will be just widened as it is structurally deficient and at the end of it's service life. If they need to replace the bridge with a new one and need an additional lane, they're not going to build a two lane replacement regardless of their "stated reason" for a wider bridge.
Benningotn Res

Waterbury Center, VT

#16 Dec 30, 2010
O.K., a couple of things here.@ REA- The state has determined that the decking on the Hunt Street bridge needs to be replaced. The reason for its rebuilding is not to add a third lane, just an option available.@ Hoop dee doo- I agree with you that the "add-ons" should be scrutinized carefully within the town budget, but the requests for funds are already counted in the proposed budeget total.
REA

Washington, DC

#17 Dec 30, 2010
The bridge isn't even posted so I suspect there is service life left. The rails can be reiforced or replaced without building a whole new structure. The only need for the extra lane is to store cars which can be solved by actively managing the signal not just using a "dumb" timing plan.

Even if they replace the bridge with the extra lane, using an adaptive control system is still desirable. So do that first, rehab the bridge for an additional 10year service life, and spend the replacement money once we get out of this economic down turn.
GDog

Miami, FL

#18 Dec 30, 2010
I think rehabbing this bridge would be a waste of money. When you factor in selective demolition, remedial repair work to the foundations, restoration/ widening of the underlying superstructure and a new deck and barriers, the costs to upgrade this existing structure for another 10 years life and then replacing the structure with new later would be more expensive than a new bridge with a 75 yr service life from the start because you are doing everything twice.
I wonder

Bennington, VT

#19 Dec 30, 2010
Vermonter wrote:
<quoted text>I agree with you that Mr. Hurd should not have used John Behan as the reason that the police budget is up this year. John was serving his country and under federal law his job HAS to be there waiting for him when he comes home. Stu needs to not only sharpen his pencil, but sharpen his skills for explanation of the budget without setting the blame to one town employee. Shame on you Stu!!!!
Had Behan become sherrif we'd have a new hire anyway. What's the smoke and mirrors for stu?. The general fund is going up for a new firetruck the board said they'd support previously. I'm all for good equipment, but are those trucks wearing out in the firehouses?

“Proud American and Vermonter”

Since: Feb 09

Bennington

#20 Dec 31, 2010
Why Stu threw John Behan under the buss the way he did is beyond me, but he should have never done it.

But I want to talk about something else he said. "Overall, the budget is up about seven-tenths of a percent," Hurd said. "Assuming the grand list doesn't grow at all, we project ... about a 2.8 cent increase in the tax rate."

He talks about the grand list and how it's not growing. This is due to the Select Board and all the limits they have placed on new growth in Bennington. They want to have everything thing in the downtown area and that would be fine if the downtown area wasn't already built out. In order for Bennington to grow they (Select Board) are going to have to look at areas outside of the downtown area. And with the Select Board soon to change, hopefully that will happen.

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