Special Budget Meeting Monday Sept 23 HHS 7pm

The Selectboard of Town of Hartford, Vermont will hold a special information session about the town budget on Monday September 23 at 7 P.M. in the Hartford High School auditorium.
“By the time the budget is in front of the voters in early March, dozens of important decisions have been made by town staff and the Selectboard, often with little or no public comment,” explained Selectboard Chair Chuck Wooster, “and by holding this meeting at the start of the budget process we hope to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities in front of the town.”
The format of the meeting will consist of a handful of brief presentations by members of the selectboard, followed by a general comment and question period. The status of current town projects, particularly the work on recreation facilities and the municipal building renovation, will kick off the meeting. This will be followed by information on the interplay of the grand list, spending, and non-tax revenues on the tax rate; an explanation of how the budget is assembled by the town manager and reviewed by the Selectboard; an illustrated review of the components of the budget; and a presentation on likely capital investments over the next 5 years.
“We’d like to give residents a chance to be as familiar with the process, language and structure of the budget as are members of the Selectboard. If someone wants to know how the budget relates to the Advance Transit bus service, for example, after this meeting they will either know it or know how to find out,” said Bethany Fleishman.
Wooster offered a cautionary note: “There are a lot of items in the budget that are essentially fixed in place that are difficult to do anything about, for example, we need to spend over a million dollars a year on our roads no matter what just to keep up. Once you really understand how it comes together, you realize that there are no magic ways of saving lots of money. It will help to have a broader understanding of that among the townspeople.”
The meeting is expected to last about 90 minutes, “but we’ll take questions so long as we have people actively engaged,” said Ken Parker, who has served two terms as chair in recent years, “We want members of our community to know their voice has a chance to be heard.”
In the wake of the adoption of the town charter in 2010 Hartford has added several meetings to its town meeting cycle. “With the elimination of the traditional all-day town meeting, we have had to find new ways to share information and provide opportunities for comment,” observed F. X. Flinn, one of three new Selectboard members elected in 2012. “The Selectboard is taking a cue from the town meeting committee’s new information night meeting in January and community day meeting the Saturday before the voting to see if kicking off the budget season with a meeting in mid-September proves equally helpful to the voters.”
 “I’m really looking forward to getting a number of issues in front of the town,” said Flinn, “there is so much that the town budget determines, it is a great opportunity to set the stage for our future.”


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