On December 7, 2016

Killington budgets make further progress

By Evan Johnson

The various town departments of Killington are hammering out the details of budgets for fiscal year 2018. At the Nov. 29 Select Board meeting, heads of the roads and maintenance, police, fire, events and marketing departments presented budgets for the coming year, along with the town office, including the clerk, treasurer and town manager.
Before the presentations, Town Manager Debby Schwartz spoke about some of the drivers for this year’s budgets.
“These budgets reflect actual expenses and needs,” she said. “They also reflect capital needs. Our goal in working to build these budgets is to have a viable and affordable budget.”
Schwartz said the current budget lacks FEMA funds, medical insurance, legal services and passive premiums from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
More budget meetings will be held on Dec. 6, Dec. 12 and Jan. 3.

Highway and Facilities Department
Director Chet Hagenbarth presented a budget from the previous meeting that corrected addition errors. The budget reflects combined winter and summer road maintenance costs even though the department has different wage structures for the two periods.
In the salaries line item, the budget has a $36,000 increase to accommodate overtime hours, which have fluctuated in the past years. Hagenbarth said he arrived at the total by averaging the past five years’ overtime hours and adding the cost of living adjustment.
Hagenbarth said overall, the budget would remain mostly flat. “Between the salaries and the operations, these are very much actual budget line items,” he said.

Town Clerk/Treasurer
Lucrecia Wonser presented budgets for her role as the town clerk, treasurer and Board of Civil Authority (BCA). In the clerk’s budget, Wonser is requesting a salary increase for the assistant town clerk, to bring her from 30 hours per week to 35 hours a week at an increased rate of $16 per hour. The increased hours will allow Assistant Town Clerk Barbara Loeliger-Myers to keep up with more work with record-keeping and property transfer work. The proposed budget represents a 6.3 percent increase.
Wonser said she is spending more than her allocated 10 hours per week as the treasurer due to the number of transactions she oversees as residents pay taxes and fees. Residents are able to pay via credit card or electronic check.
“In the month of August alone, we saw 74 transactions and it was $126,102 total,” she said. While being able to use credit cards may be convenient, she added that it hasn’t always been financially wise. “I have seen people choose to pay $3 with a credit card, knowing that they’ll be charged a $3 fee,” she said.
Wonser said she is managing the transactions, but said more hours are needed. Without more hours added, the budget for fiscal year 2018 is $11,325.
Killington will have one election in 2017 and is budgeting for $3,000—half of what it spent last year—for costs associated with the election including costs to print ballots and the tabulator.

Golf Course
Golfers will have to get another year out of the carts at Killington’s Green Mountain National Golf Course. During a budget portion of last week’s Select Board meeting, golf course General Manager David Soucy presented a preliminary budget of about $100,000 that is intended to keep the golf course in the black.
Maintenance is up $14,000 over last year, due to cost of living adjustments for two full-time employees and other expenses. Other significant increases include $4,000 in golf cart repair.
“Cosmetically they still look pretty good,” Soucy said, describing the carts. “It’s just a few things with the operations. Sometimes they don’t always start as well as they should but there is a fairly easy repair for that.”
The golf course also plans to spend $4,000 on sand and fill and $1,500 on soil testing.
This year, they spent $10,000 on electricity for irrigation, a number that could vary depending on the weather. They’ve budgeted the same number for next year.
The golf course’s property taxes have gone down for this year. When the town transitioned to a fiscal year calendar and the golf course kept using a calendar year, six months of property taxes were paid ahead of time. This year, property taxes will be $1,600.
“For one year, we get a break on that,” Select Board Chair Patty McGrath said at the meeting.

Killington Fire Department
By cutting costs in building and equipment maintenance costs, operating supplies, new equipment and small tools and equipment, the Killington Volunteer Fire Department has designed a budget cut from $217,951to $208,950—a 5 percent decrease. Fire Chief Gary Roth said he’s confident in his first draft.
“We like to put our best foot forward and be done,” he said.
Roth said a separate meeting would be needed to finance replacing equipment such as trucks and oxygen bottles. The fire department has two pieces of equipment, one due for replacement in 2015, the other in 2019. The department plans to replace both of those apparatuses with one truck. Roth said the replacement would create savings in the cost to purchase the piece, the cost-per-square-foot to store it in a new fire station and maintenance costs.
“We’re due for shortening the fleet,” Roth said. “Functionally, we can definitely operate with a combination piece of a equipment rather than a platform and another engine. The shape of our membership and our response times indicate it would be a better add for us than to replace two pieces of equipment.”

Killington Police Department
Killington Police Chief Whit Montgomery presented a budget of $126,000 that is nearly 7 percent higher, but would be offset by increased revenues of 12 percent.
In revenues, the police department has taken in $5,000 in tickets paid online, and Montgomery said he’s budgeted $5,000 for next year. Montgomery said the department has received $3,500 in grants so far and has budgeted for $5,000 for next year.
Montgomery added a $1,000 line item for field officer training for those that have just graduated from the academy. “There might be some potential there for us as a town,” he said.
He also suggested offering “use of force” trainings for officers and self defense classes for the public as a revenue source.
In expenses, Montgomery has increased the salaries of part-time officers who work 30 hours per month by $100 to $6,500. The salary for full-time officers has been increased to $43,700.
“That’s to try to be competitive in recruiting other officers,” Montgomery said, adding that the department has received applications for new officers.
The Killington Police Department is planning to add its own phone line and internet for $1,200, which it lacks.

Events and marketing
Interim Events and Marketing Director Kim Peters said the overall budget for next year will be close to this year—just 1 percent larger.
In the past two weeks, Peters has gone through each event and updated whether or not it will repeat the next year. Many of the same events, including the Cooler in the Mountains music festival, the Spartan Race, Downhill Throwdown and Witchcraft are in contract to continue. Peters said no events have been canceled or have been taken off the calendar yet, but Peters will reach out to different coordinators to check in the next two months.
For marketing those events, Peters said the 2018 budget will be close to this year’s. Some introductions will be with the Killington Valley initiative to promote events to Rutland County. Peters has budgeted $19,000 for graphic design and public relations, but noted that only $7,000 was spent last year. Many of the materials can be reused in the future, which can yield more savings. “I kept it the same because I’m still looking into it,” she said.

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