Hartford to tackle budget, TIF project

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, February 15, 2019

There will be a floor meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 2, at the Hartford High School gym to vote on various minor items of business, including setting the pay rates for members of the Hartford School Board and Selectboard. The municipal and school district budgets will come before voters at the polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, at the high school.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Voters on Town Meeting Day will be asked to approve nearly $17.1 million in municipal spending, plus a $5.5 million tax increment financing project for infrastructure improvements in downtown White River Junction.

The spending includes a $16.85 million operating budget, plus other appropriations on the warning that include more than $79,000 for the Advance Transit bus system and $51,000 for the Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire.

On the school side, officials are seeking permission to borrow money for a major overhaul of the Wilder School.

If the municipal operating budget and other appropriations on the municipal warning are approved, the town tax rate would increase 1.7 percent to 98.9 cents per $100 of assessed property value, or $2,474 on a home valued at $250,000.

That factors in a projected 2 percent increase in the grand list, according to Town Manager Leo Pullar.

The Selectboard in January approved seeking to use approximately 59 percent of the town’s remaining available TIF financing — which allows the town to make repayments with additional tax revenue generated by increased property values in the district.

The project would upgrade water and sewer lines, install and repair sidewalks, repair a retaining wall and pave and reconstruct roads on parts of North Main Street, South Main Street and Gates Street.

Australian ballot voting also will be used to seek approval of allocating $227,000 in local option tax revenue toward a new ambulance for the Hartford Fire Department, $99,650 to be divided among the town’s five cemetery associations, and $70,000 for design and engineering work on a new municipal pool.

Barring write-ins, only one candidate is vying to fill the Selectboard seat that had been held by Rebecca White, who is not seeking another term on the board after being elected in November to the Vermont House.

Dan Fraser — co-owner and general manager of Dan & Whit’s General Store in Norwich — is running for the seat unopposed. Fraser, 49, has lived in White River Junction for 26 years.

“It’s an opportunity for me to get involved in the town and give back,” said Fraser, the grandson and namesake of a Dan & Whit’s co-founder.

On the School District side, voters will be asked to approve a $39.6 million budget, a 3.8 percent increase in spending that will result in a projected 0.7 percent tax rate increase, in part because of an increase in projected grant funding.

The projected school tax rate of just under $1.65, for those homeowners who are not in Vermont’s income sensitivity program, would result in school taxes of $4,122 on a home valued at $250,000.

Ballots also will be cast to determine whether a $5.4 million bond should go toward renovating the Wilder School, the 107-year-old Norwich Avenue building that houses the Regional Alternative Program and — if the renovations are approved — also would become home to the Hartford Autism Regional Program.

Voters also will be asked if the school district should acquire a 3,069-square-foot home on 0.6 acres at 71 Highland St., next to the Superintendent’s Office, for $315,000.

The district is in a purchase and sales agreement with owner Tim Covell, pending voter approval of $214,000 in bonds or notes.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.