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By Gary Schuetz
Contributing writer 

Town of Vermont approves budget


November 30, 2017

Tapping into the town’s reserve funds to help pay for a new truck for the Black Earth Fire Department won’t be part of the 2018 budget in the Town of Vermont.

“There just didn’t end up being a way to do that,” said town chair Karen Carlock, speaking at the Nov. 13 public hearing on the annual spending plan. “We couldn’t find a fair calculation for splitting our reserves between the Mount Horeb residents and the Black Earth residents.”

Town officials opted to take out a loan to cover the costs of the Black Earth vehicle, selecting the State Bank of Cross Plains, which offered an interest rate of 1.99 percent.

“That way, we can make sure just the Black Earth residents are covering the Black Earth fire truck, and the same for the Mount Horeb building project,” Carlock said, referring to the Mount Horeb public safety building. “We won’t be using any of our reserve fund to help with [those projects].”

The $116,145 loan is scheduled for a ten-year repayment term but the supervisors approved a plan to repay the borrowing in five years, essentially doubling each annual payment to approximately $24,168 per year.

“The rationale from the board was that we have another Black Earth fire truck that is coming soon and we didn’t want two truck payments to hit the residents,” Carlock said, adding the loan agreement does not prevent or penalize the faster payback. “We’re trying to pay this one off in five years and then start the next one.”

The board had previously discussed allocating some portion of the town’s existing reserve to the pending major purchases by both the Black Earth Fire Department and the Mount Horeb Fire Department but they were unable to determine a sufficiently fair way to allocate the dollars. Numerous discussions suggested selecting a dollar amount and dividing money between the two districts based on property allocations. The Mount Horeb allocation would then be assigned to reduce the necessary borrowing for the Town of Vermont portion of the public safety building schedule to be built in Mount Horeb.

Carlock said the reserve fund has grown during the past several years based on unexpected savings in numerous areas, calling attention to several years where the chip sealing of roads came in significantly under budget.

“Last year, and actually this year, I think it was a $20,000 under budget item,” Carlock said. “It’s been a gradual process.”

The overall budget increase from 2017 to 2018 represents a 36.1 percent rise in revenues and expenditures. For comparison, the town budgeted $545,216 for both revenues and expenditures for 2017 and the 2018 budget calls for $742,123 in revenues and expenditures, with the primary difference being a $203,001 increase in the reserve fund and contingency fund expenses. Projections through the end of 2017 indicate a total of $538,280 in revenues and a total of $428,134 in expenditures. Taxes levied by the town are estimated to increase by 1.2 percent from 2017 to 2018 and intergovernmental revenues are expected to increase by 6.2 percent between the two budget years.

A small number of town residents attended the public hearing and, at the end of the discussion, the assembled residents moved to recommend approval of the budget to the town board. The motion passed with no opposing votes.

When it came time for the board to approve the budget during the regular meeting, it took less than 60 seconds to finalize the plan for the coming year.

“We’ve talked about it for several months,” Carlock said. “Any other last questions or concerns about the budget?”

There were none and the 2018 budget for the Town of Vermont passed on a motion from town supervisor Todd Culliton and supervisor John Hallick with a unanimous voice vote.

At the same meeting, the board approved the town’s $75,000 line of credit with State Bank of Cross Plains, which carries a 3.25 percent interest rate.

“It is kind of a just in case we need it,” Carlock said. “Every year, in November, we have extended it for another year.”


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