Cavendish Selectboard reviews annual town budget

Cavendish. Photo by Shawntae Webb.

CAVENDISH, Vt. – Cavendish Town Manager Brendan McNamara, having reviewed last year’s (FY22) town budget, announced at the Jan. 11 budget meeting that the audit was still ongoing, but it looked as if the town could expect a $40,000 deficit. In part due to “a horrendous mud season,” the cost for gravel was higher than estimated, and most large expenses went to the highway department for equipment repairs. McNamara relayed that the trucks are getting older, and they’ve been considering leasing rather than buying several new vehicles at once, as other towns in the area have done. McNamara suggested adding the cost to the upcoming, FY24 budget. He said there could be a long waiting period to purchase new vehicles, so he’d like to start looking at options fairly soon.

The town’s legal fees went over budget as well, reported McNamara, coming in at $15,000 against an estimated $7,200.

Regarding the proposed increases to the sheriff’s department budget, as presented by Sheriff-Elect Ryan Palmer at Monday night’s selectboard meeting (, McNamara said he thought those costs would hit the FY24 or FY25 budget since the FY23 budget will need to be finalized before the Feb. 1 start of the sheriff’s term, and the current contract is in effect through June 30, 2023.

McNamara touched on several points Palmer made at Monday’s meeting, questioning how the town would track the number of hours deputies spent in Cavendish, without setting that number in advance. He also wasn’t sure how the town would be charged, and whether the cost would increase if the department were to receive more calls than expected. The board agreed more discussion and details were needed before deciding to expand the sheriff’s services, and thought it would be helpful to contact other towns to ask what they’ve committed to.

Finally, McNamara raised an issue regarding the local Meals on Wheels program, and asked the board to consider increasing the appropriation of funds to Senior Solutions to provide Meals on Wheels, or asking the Black River Senior Center to provide Meals on Wheels to Cavendish residents again, and increasing their appropriation. About five or six years ago, McNamara said there had been a promise of local Meals on Wheels services that never materialized, and funding to the Black River Senior Center was reduced at the time.

Now, Senior Solutions is responsible for Meals on Wheels as well as the Everyone Eats program (distributed from the Cavendish Fletcher Community Library) which is coming to an end in March 2023. After that time, the Meals on Wheels program will move from the library to the fire station for distribution. McNamara said volunteers from Black River Good Neighbors do the meal delivery for Senior Solutions, delivering once per week, while Black River Senior Center delivers twice per week. McNamara pointed out that in addition to delivering meals, the volunteer drivers also provide social contact and a welfare check for the recipients.

The next budget meeting will be Wednesday, Jan. 18, and McNamara said he would email updated figures to board members for review.

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