MILTON — Town Meeting Day is less than a week away, so it's time to fill out your ballot or get ready to head to the poll on March 2.
Milton voters will see a number of items for their consideration on the ballot this year, including questions about next year's municipal budget.
Town Article III on Milton’s 2021 Town Meeting Day ballot seeks voter approval of the Fiscal Year 22 budget.
The proposed FY22 budget, totaling $8,688,495, would cause an increase in residents’ municipal tax bill. For example, a taxpayer with a $250,000 home would see a $62 increase.
Over last year, this year’s budget has increased by $323,732, or 3.9%.
Here is why:
1. The town budgeted $124,628 to increase the staffing of Milton Rescue.
The department currently has 35 members, of which only two are full-time. Public Safety Director Michaela Foody said this causes Milton Rescue to oftentimes go out of service, meaning other town’s rescue departments have to respond to calls in Milton.
In addition, Milton’s call volume is expected to increase by 4% in 2021.
“The town of Milton is growing, and Milton Rescue must grow with it,” Foody said in the town’s informational video. “In order to provide 24/7 to the town of Milton, we must add another full-time staff member to our department.”
2. $159,399 was added to the budget to fund various capital projects.
Money was also added to the budget to fund Public Works projects like stormwater maintenance, culvert construction, tree removal and vehicle repair.
If approved, this budget would also fund Buildings and Grounds projects, like pedestrian street lights, improvements to the dog park fence and resurfacing of the tennis court.
3. $115,000 additional dollars was added to Milton’s annual paving budget.
The additional $115,000 included in the FY22 budget would bring the paving budget up to $350,000, which is on par with what Milton has spent on paving in years past.
During the current fiscal year, FY21, only $235,000 was allocated for paving.
“This is not a sustainable budget for the over 100 miles of road we are required to maintain,” Public Works Director David Allerton said in the informational video.
Allerton said this increased budget would allow the town to move forward with plans for paving on Duffy Road and East Road.
What is being asked in Article IV?
Article IV on the ballot asks voters to approve an additional $400,000 for paving, creating a fund totaling $750,000 — a balance that would more adequately meet the needs of the town’s roads.
“To be honest, the town of Milton has been under-investing for paving projects in town for over a decade,” Allerton said.
A $750,000 budget would accommodate more much-needed road maintenance including paving, crack sealing and general repairs.
Approving Article IV would cause a further increase in municipal taxes. Instead of a $62 increase, a taxpayer with a $250,000 home would see a $149.50 increase in their town tax bill.
Given the financial hardships many are facing due to the pandemic, town officials know this is a difficult year to increase taxes. That’s why the paving issue is a separate ballot item.
What does Article V mean?
In Article V, voters are being asked to consider exempting the Milton Grange from real estate taxes.
This exemption is allowed by Vermont law, in the statute that states that property owned by charitable organizations that is used for charitable purposes, can be tax-exempt for not more than 10 years with voter approval.
Located at 135 River St, the Milton Grange fits this criteria. It is currently rented by the Town of Milton for $1 a year and is used by many organizations including the Milton recreation department.