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Author Topic: Joel Lehman Summarizes Fairfax Voters Issues  (Read 461 times)
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« on: February 28, 2017, 06:08:44 PM »

This article appeared in the February 28, 2017 issue of The St. Albans Messenger and was written by Joel Lehman, of The Messenger Staff

Town manager shift on agenda for Fairfax

School tax rate up 2 cents

Messenger Staff

FAIRFAX - Voters here will decide on whether to hire a part-time town manager, and approve a school budget that will raise the tax rate by 2 cents from the previous year on Town Meeting Day.

The budget for Bellows Free Academy (BFA) is down $1.15 million to $12.7 million. The decrease is the result of transportation and special education revenues which previously passed through the school budget
to the supervisory union going directly to Franklin West Supervisory Union (FWSU).  As a result, BFA is sending $1.5 million less to the supervisory union next year, reducing expenditures.

However, BFA is asking for $424,000 more from the education than in the current year, bringing that amount to $10.07 million.

The equalized per pupil count in Fairfax remained level this year, after increasing slightly over the last three years. Dividing the per pupil count into the $10 million coming from the education fund, gives BFA per pupil spending of $13,292.77, up from $12,733.82 in the current year.

BFA is spending 32 percent more per pupil than the state's yield of $10,076. The yield is what the state would spend per pupil if the homestead property tax rate statewide was $1. Spending above· the yield, raises Fairfax's homestead tax rate to $1.3913.

That rate is then adjusted by the common level of appraisal (CLA). In Fairfax, properties are selling at more than their assessed value, meaning the state considers the homes slightly undervalued. To compensate, the CLA, which is 95.34 percent, raises the tax rate, bringing it to $1.3838, up from $1.3681 in 2017 and $1.3335 in 2016.

Fairfax is considering joining the consolidated Maple Run School District with Fairfield, St. Albans City and st. Albans Town, which saw tax rate declines in all three of its communities this year. Preliminary discussions there have begun, according to the Fairfax Board of School Directors' report.

In the case of any proposed merger, voters would first have an opportunity to vote to go forward with the merger itself. If the merger is approved, BFA's budget would become part of the larger Maple Run budget.


In Fairfax town, Article 3 on the ballot, authorizing the selectboard to hire a part-time Town Manger, will likely be the focus of conversation on Town Meeting Day Tuesday, March 7.

Fairfax selectboard chair Tom Fontaine said that the responsibilities of managing the town, which previously fell to him and other selectboard members, had simply become too great.

The town currently has an administrator. However, the administrator has limited supervisory authority. Under state law, a town manager is able to supervise the day-to-day operations of the town. However, the selectboard still sets policy for the town, including the budget, but would take a less direct role in operations.

Fontaine said he estimates the cost for the part-time position to range from $30,000-$40,000. Article 4 asks voters to approve the elimination of the lister position, instead contracting the position to an assessor.  Fontaine said there would be some cost savings there.

Voters in Fairfax will also vote on whether to approve an 18-month transitional budget this year. That budget is estimated at $4,018,488.08, with $2,452,415.06 to be raised by taxes and $959,677 to come from the previously approved trash fee.

The 18-month transitional budget, which will move Fairfax to a fiscal year schedule, includes spending from Jan. 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

"My guess is the biggest conversation will be around the part-time manager," Fontaine said.

Fairfax voters will also be asked to approve $22,877 for social contributions, including $8,998.50 for Franklin County Home Health Agency and $2,229 for Green Mountain Transit/CCTA.

The Fairfax warning asks voters to approve $108,674 for Fairfax Rescue operation expenses, also an also an 18-month transitional sum.

Fairfax voters meet Saturday, March 4 at 10 a.m. at the BFA-Fairfax Elementary School gymnasium to vote on articles 5 through 12, not involving Australian ballot items. Articles 1 through 4, which include town offices, budgets, and the town manaer item, will be voted on Tuesday, March 7 at the BFA-Fairfax old gymnasium, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For school items, articles 1 through 3, which include elected positions, budgets and barrowing authorization will be voted on Tuesday, March 7. All ther items not involving Australian ballot will be voted on March 4 at 10 a.m.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 06:32:26 PM by Henry » Logged

Henry Raymond
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