Springfield Town Meeting discusses budget plans and town improvement

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – The Town Meeting was held Monday, March 5, 2018 in the Springfield High School cafeteria to discuss matters to be voted upon. Boy Scout Troop 252 led with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a moment of silence.

The Springfield Town Meeting discussed budget items and the town plan. Photo provided.

Selectman Chair Kristi Morris gave the report of the fiscal year 2017 saying that active improvements to the downtown development, the economic outside of town, residential neighborhood improvements, and town governance has begun and will continue by using the revolving loan fund. The town has made improvements to the Wilson Building by partnering with the Springfield on the Move organization, the Springfield Vermont Housing Authority, and Housing Vermont. A code officer has been hired to take care of clean up orders. The Countryside covert has also been repaired.

The budget continues efforts to revitalize the downtown area with intentions to initiate change and control the destiny of the Town of Springfield, attract investors, and make visibility improvements. For further information concerning downtown planning, a link to the video is available on the Town’s website.

The downtown master plan includes a curb extension on Valley and Summer Streets. Morris reminded the voters of the town’s proposed budget for FY 2019 and encouraged all to vote. Town Manager, Tom Yenneller, spoke on the large purchase improvements made as of June 2017 of $1,197,591, including 7.76 miles of paving-public works, and several needed vehicles purchased to benefit the police, fire, and public works departments. Other investments include equipment for the Springfield Town Library, Town Hall, and Fire and Police Departments.

The proposed budget, Article 5, for FY 2019 of $11,649,339 – with $9,643,689 in tax revenue – has an estimated tax increase of 3.73 percent or the amount of $346,613. Unavoidable expense total $368,056 includes regular pay of $134,845, workers’ compensation of $140,00, retirement fund contributions of $50,000, and healthcare.

Yenneller presented a slideshow of the Downtown Revitalization Fund to show the town residents what the money is allocated towards: to design the expansion of Comptu Falls Park and build phase one, improve the aesthetic view with a green strip to Valley Street and Summer Street, and support the improvement of Main Street Theater Plaza.

The town owns the bakery and would like to sell it for a good price in hopes that the value will increase after reconstruction.

During public comments, Mr. Richardson asking that Yenneller explain the 35 percent administrative budget. Yenneller replied the $239,600 capital improvements are a one-time expenditure, which is the majority of the increase. Steve Hier, a school district officer, discussed the different tax increases based on a residential and non-residential standpoint. He explained that in the situation that all parties owned a home of the same value, taxes would be determined by income.

In another public comment, Tracy Goodrich asked why the school was being given a grant of $300,000 when violent activity had occurred, and IEP students have had their time cut short. Zachary Mclaughlin, president of the school committee, replied saying that a lot is being done to accommodate the students in special education programs.

Palmer, budget committee member, added that he believes the budget to be a fair amount. The funds can go toward improving test scores and the correction of problematic behavior. Each non-profit business continued to share the summary of FY 2017 and at the late hour, the meeting was adjourned with encouraging recommendations for the public to vote March 6, 2018 in the gymnasium of River Side Middle School.

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