The St. Johnsbury Select Board approved it’s 2021-2022 budgets on Monday.
The spending plan, if approved by the voters at Town Meeting, will result in tax rate increases of 6.85 percent inside the special services district (village) and 5.99 percent outside the special services district.
The Highway Budget includes additional money for improvements to town roads.
“We have heard from the public that they want to see improvement in our road conditions,” said Town Manager Chad Whitehead. “It will take a number of years to get our town roads and sidewalks where we need them, but this is a step in that direction.”
That budget plan includes $2,361,091 to be raised by taxes for the General Fund, $2,377,774 to be raised by taxes for the Highway Fund and $1,302,368 to be raised by taxes for the special services district.
The budgets will also be funded in part by state and federal grants and other revenues not raised by taxes.
Town officials say the effect on the tax bill of a $150,000 St. Johnsbury house located inside the district will be an increase of $154.25.
The effect on the tax bill of a $150,000 house outside the district will be an increase of $85.13.
If the budgets are approved, overall spending inside the special services district will be $8,301,442.32 — an increase of 1.87 percent over this year. Overall spending outside the district will be $6,860,674.44 — and increase of .80 percent.
There are also $305,570 in special appropriation requests for the voters to consider which town officials say have already been factored into the overall spending plan.
The town had been looking at a possible tax rate increase of up to 8 percent, but that number was reduced after adjustments were made including the elimination of $110,000 in fire department reserve fund money. The town also benefited from a $27,000 reduction in the town’s pension contribution.
The spending plan also includes $129,552 in increased labor costs for town employees and $30,000 for miscellaneous projects, including an upgrade of the town’s computer server and additional money for the St. Johnsbury Armory Reserve Fund.
Spending increases are being driven in part by an emergency COVID-19 related tax cut in 2020.
The result is a $300,000 “budget adjustment” being added back into the proposed 2021-2022 budget.
In August of 2020, the town made $50,000 in emergency across-the-board spending cuts and tapped into $250,000 in reserve funds to offset expenses in an effort to reduce the financial impact on taxpayers of the pandemic and last year’s property reappraisal.
“The town reduced the amount of taxes to be collected from property owners from what was approved at town meeting, and property owners saw a reduction of 3-3.5 percent in their municipal tax liability this last year,” said Whitehead.
St. Johnsbury will hold it’s Town Meeting vote on Tuesday, April 6.
In-person voting will be held at the St. Johnsbury Welcome Center from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The town is also mailing out ballots to the voters.
Anyone who wants to vote at Town Meeting and doesn’t receive a ballot in the mail should contact the St. Johnsbury Town Clerk’s office at (802) 748-4331, or vote in person at the Welcome Center polls.
A Town Meeting information meeting will be held by Zoom on Monday, April 5, starting at 7:30 p.m.
The Zoom link will be available on the town web site at https://www.stjvt.com.