On Monday, July 29, the voters of Charlestown will once again be asked to vote on the Town's budget. I ask voters to please vote yes on this version of the budget. Many of us advocated against passage of the original budget because of the $3,095,000 "Construction" line item that had no plan associated with it. We had no idea what would be built for the $3,095,000 nor did we know the additional operating costs that would accompany the new "construction".
Fortunately, the voters overwhelmingly rejected the budget on June 3. The Town Council has proposed a new budget for a vote on July 29.
The new budget has five major changes.
The $3,095,000 "Construction" line item for the unknown construction has been removed.
The tax levy will be reduced by $1,000,000. This will reduce the tax rate from $9.64/$1000 to $9.23/$1000. A savings of $.41 / $1000 of assessed valuation. A house assessed at $350,000 will have a tax reduction of $143.50 for the year.
In the defeated budget, $1,250,000 was proposed to be taken from the Unassigned Surplus and redirected to the $3,095,000 "Construction" line item. Since there is no longer a "Construction" line, the $1,250,000 will remain in the Unassigned Surplus. As per the audit dated June 30, 2018 the town had $6,935,171 in Unassigned Surplus (this includes the $1,250,000).
The remaining $845,000 (from the proposed $3,095,000) will go to the General Fund Budgeted Surplus. The money will stay in the surplus until the people of Charlestown decide what, if anything they want to do with it. This $845,000 will come from line items for money that was approved in previous year's budgets but not needed.
The Town Council created a line item for a Town-wide Assessment/Survey for $74,552. The purpose of this is to determine the needs of the community and the best use for the Town's surplus.
In summary, the original budget that was rejected on June 3 contained a budget line item for "Construction" in an amount of $3,095,000. There was no plan for this "Construction". That line item has been removed from this budget. $1,000,000 will be used to reduce the tax rate, $1,250,000 will remain where it currently is in the Unassigned Surplus. The remaining $845,000 will go to the General Fund Budgeted Surplus. $74,552 will be used to help determine what, if anything, residents would like to do with the remaining surplus.
The copy of the Pipeline that contained the information about the budget and was sent to Charlestown's residents contained errors. Specifically the Department Expenditures and the Transfers out information was incorrect. The correct information is now available on the Town's website.
Approval of this budget will reduce the tax rate, maintain surplus, and give the residents of Charlestown time to decide what we want to do with our money. I was opposed to the budget that was voted on June 3 because of the $3,095,000 "construction" line item. That item has now been removed. I will vote in favor of the budget on Monday,July 29. I ask Charlestown's voters to please vote in favor as well.
Vice-President, Charlestown Town Council