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Bradford Asked to Buy Truck

Bradford Town Meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 4, at the Bradford Academy Auditorium. All elections for town offices will be done from the floor. The meeting’s 27 articles include those for the Water and Sewer District me eting.

Bradford, Vt. — Voters at this year’s Town Meeting will weigh in on four warning articles that together could cost more than $800,000.

Selectboard Chairman Ted Unkles said that articles on a new fire truck, a new road grader, renovations and repairs to the town-owned clock in the Bradford Congregational Church and money toward a part-time town recreation director likely would prompt the most discussion on the Town Meeting floor.

The fire truck article makes up the bulk of the requested money — as much as $679,000 to be financed over five years.

If approved, the fire department’s 95-foot-long 1986 E-One “quint” truck, which is currently out of service, would be replaced by a newer dual engine and ladder truck, which would be 75-feet long.

The shorter truck would have increased maneuverability, especially on Bradford’s dirt roads, according to Fire Chief Ryan Terrill.

“We’ll be able to make it to a lot more of the residences,” Terrill said.

Further, he said, standard protocol for fire trucks is replacement after 25 years of operation, and the truck slated for replacement, one of five in the department, has been going for 28 years. Parts for the old truck are increasingly hard to find, Terrill said.

Voters also have been asked to borrow $110,000 for a new road grader, which would also be financed over five years. The grader itself would cost as much as $267,000, said Highway Foreman Phil Page, and the difference would be taken from a capital reserve fund.

The town’s loader and grader are on staggered 15-year replacement cycles, Page said. The current grader was purchased in 1999, and is showing its age, too, he said. Recent repairs to the radiator and transmission have been costly.

“It’s progressively starting to show that it’s feasibly time to get rid of it,” Page said.

The other two articles of note are decidedly less expensive: $10,000 each for repairs to the town clock and the hiring of a recreation director.

Unkles said that the clock, which sits in the church across from the town offices, has been receiving piecemeal repairs, which prompted the town to ask for a sum for a larger renovation.

“(It) is definitely having some problems, and every year it costs us $1,500 to $2,000 to do a quick little repair here and there,” Unkles said.

The part-time recreation director position was born at a meeting last fall made up of representatives of the community and several area youth groups, said Bradford Elementary School Board member Angel Parkin, who also serves as treasurer for Bradford Youth Football.

The idea, Parkin said, is to have a person who can coordinate activities for the town’s children, perhaps setting up hikes in the summer or helping existing youth groups work together, with the end goal of getting as many children involved as possible.

“It’s just kind of getting some of those people involved, within the youth, that currently aren’t,” Parkin said. “To just be able to have days where they’re not sitting at home in front of the TV.”

Also, the cost of liability insurance for organizations such as Bradford Youth Football and Bradford Youth Sports would decrease if the groups all existed under the town’s umbrella, which they would if a recreation director brought them together. The savings could be reinvested into the programs themselves, Parkin said.

Voting on those spending items will follow a discussion on the town’s general fund and highway budgets.

The proposed general fund budget of $1.1 million is about the same as 2013’s, though the town is hoping to raise just under $800,000 in taxes, about $130,000 less than last year. The town would use $150,000 in surplus funds to accomplish that.

The proposed highway budget of about $840,000 is nearly flat, while the amount to be funded by property taxes — $730,129 — is $4,000 less than last year.

The tax rate, however, will not be determined until the grand list is set, Unkles said. Last year’s overall tax rate was about 75 cents per $100 of assessed value, or about $1,875 annually on $250,000 home. Unkles said that those who live in the former Bradford Village also pay a 6-cent “street bond,” which comes out to an additional $150 for a $250,000 home.

If all spending articles are passed as written, including the proposed general fund and highway budgets, Bradford’s tax rate would come out to approximately 77 cents per $100 of valuation, Unkles wrote in an email.

That would mean an annual tax bill of about $1,925 on a home assessed at $250,000, or an increase of about $50.

However, those numbers are very rough, Unkles wrote, as they were calculated using last year’s grand list and assumed interest rates for the fire truck and grader.

On Town Meeting day Tuesday, voters also will decide on about $38,000 of additional appropriations spread across eight more articles. These are mostly annual appropriations, including a requested $6,000 for the Orange East Senior Center and $3,000 for Central Vermont Adult Basic Education.

Bradford elects all officers from the floor, so there are no planned races. However, the terms for clerk, treasurer, lister and two Selectboard members are coming to a close, along with other offices.

Unkles said that, for the Selectboard races, Dan Perry will run to retain his seat, and Brian Schlager will not. Henrietta Powers has stated she will not run for another term as treasurer, Unkles said.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.