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Vershire Is Holding Line On Spending

Future Purchases, New Garage Are Under Consideration

Vershire Town Meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 4, at 10 a.m., at the Town Center. Australian ballot voting to elect officials and decide on the highway fund and general fund budgets and the Vershire Fire and Rescue appropriation will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Vershire Historical Society wing of the Town Center. An informational meeting to review the items to be voted on by Australian ballot is scheduled for Sunday, March 2, at 2 p.m., at the Town Center.

Vershire — The town is once again trying to keep its municipal budget steady to counteract education costs.

The proposed general fund budget is $262,200, up about $9,000 from the current spending plan. The additional $9,000 is earmarked for the Town Center fund and will be used to pay for utilities, telephone service and repairs, Vershire Town Clerk Gene Craft said.

“The Town Center has its own fund and there’s going to be a transfer into that fund” if the budget is approved, Craft said.

Money was not allocated to the fund last year.

Craft said he expects the municipal tax rate to rise only a cent or so. “It essentially will remain the same,” he said. The current tax rate is 76 cents per $100 of valuation, or $1,900 on a home assessed at $250,000.

“We do scrutinize the budget closely and we’re also aware that the other aspect of taxes on education … is going up. And we have no control over that,” said Selectman Marc McKee.

School tax rates in many communities are going up this year because of an estimated 7 cent increase in the base statewide education homestead rate.

“If anything, it’s made us double down on fiscal tightness,” McKee said. “We don’t want to spend any more than we have to.”

The highway department is requesting $363,700, about $6,000 less than last year. The department is also asking to transfer a $30,000 surplus from last year’s highway budget to the capital equipment fund to prepare for future purchases. While the town does not have specific plans for the money, the department is working on a five-year capital equipment plan that, if it is developed enough, may be discussed at Town Meeting, Craft said.

Voters also will decide if $15,000 should be directed to the capital paving fund, which residents created at last year’s Town Meeting.

Vershire Fire and Rescue is requesting about $33,700, the same amount it received last year.

Also on the warning is a $20,000 appropriation for the town garage fund. The town used $20,000 from the fund to purchase a 28-acre parcel on Durgin Hill Road in September to replace the current town garage, which is almost 50 years old. If approved, the money would be used “to start building up a reserve to build a garage on the land that was purchased,” Craft said.

The permitting process for the new facility is underway, McKee said. “I’m happy to say that the town is very well-positioned to go forward in the planning of a new town garage facility,” he said,

Recycling is also likely to be discussed at the meeting, McKee said, although there is no vote planned on the issue.

Beginning in July 2015, the state will require towns that collect curbside trash to collect recyclables, as well. Residents will have to decide if they want to pay for both services, or bring both trash and recyclables to the town recycling center, McKee said.

McKee, a Vershire resident since the 1970s, has served on the Selectboard for six years. He is seeking re-election so he can see initiatives, such as recycling and the town garage, come to fruition.

“This is a great town and we have a really committed group of people who make wonderful things happen,” McKee said. “We have a lot of people who work for nothing in this town to make it a better place.”

McKee is facing a challenge for his three-year seat from Timothy S. Ward, who owns a excavating company in town. Attempts to reach Ward were unsuccessful.

Ethel L. Pike is running unopposed for town lister, and Naomi Labarr is unopposed in her bid for re-election as collector of delinquent taxes.

Voters will be asked to appropriate about $7,100 to 10 social service organizations, including $2,465 for the Visiting Nurse Alliance of Vt. and N.H., $980 for the Clara Martin Center and $900 for the Central Vermont Council on Aging.

Vershire is part of the Rivendell Interstate School District, which will hold its annual meeting on March 18 at Rivendell Academy in Orford. The election of officers will take place at 6 p.m. and the meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 602-727-3305.