By LEE J. KAHRS
PITTSFORD – Voters here will cast Town Meeting Day ballots on a municipal budget carrying a slight increase, but a significantly lower highway budget.
The Pittsford Select Board approved the Town Meeting Day warning at a regular meeting Jan. 22.
The General Fund budget is up 1.045% to $1,651,939, of which $1,283,829 is to be raised by taxes.
Voters will decide a $1,151,480 Highway Fund budget, of which $1,015,200 is to be raised by taxes.
The General Fund taxation increase equals 1.2%, and the Highway Fund taxation increase is 1.7%, for a combined overall property tax increase for Pittsford residents of 1.4%
Like so many Vermont towns this budget season, Pittsford is seeing a 4.2% increase in health insurance costs for covered town employees after the town and the municipal employees union agreed to switch from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to MVP to reduce costs. Had that switch not been made, there would have been an even larger increase in health care costs.
The town is also budgeting a 2% wage increase per the union contract in the amount of $6,525.
The board also moved Pittsford First Response from a special appropriation to a department of town government to help with administrative support. The total appropriation is $29,175, including $5,000 for a building fund and $5,000 for a vehicle replacement fund.
The town’s $1 million 20-year bond has been paid off, which saves an annual $85,000 payment.
The Highway Fund budget is down by 55% thanks to numerous grant funds including $175,000 for a bridge to replace a culvert on Fire Hill Road and $450,000 toward a new $563,000 salt shed.
The Highway Fund collects approximately $68,000 in revenue more than expenses in order to build up the Highway Fund balance. Town Manager John Haverstock said the fund balance has dropped to $16,000 as several recent winters have been required more overtime and salt/sand usage and led to increased annual deficits. In turn, the town held the line on pavement expenses and stuck with last year’s paving budget, and cut in half the amount it appropriates for the eventual replacement of Kendall Hill Road Bridge. The town has also discontinued the use of pagers for highway crew members.
There was also an increase in road salt from $79,000 to $100,000 to more accurately reflect the town’s usage of salt in recent years.
Lastly, the board funded a 2% wage increase per union contract in the Highway Fund budget equaling roughly $5,000.