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Author: Lois Deberville

Public Budget Informational Meeting

Public Budget Informational Meeting

Presented by the Selectboard and Treasurer

February 29, 2024

Draft, page 1 of 1

Present:

Selectboard: Fred Blanchard, Sheila Duranleau (Chair), AJ Galfetti

Town officials: Josh Bell (tree warden), Scott Blanchard (treasurer, delinquent tax collector), Peter Carbee (planning), Lois Deberville (town clerk), Ben Tiefenthaler (FEMA admin)

Visitors: Billy Donovan, Ethan Pratt, Bob Sherman, Sarah Teel, Kara Williams

Zoom (identified): Judy & Rob Perdue, Ryan Bresette, Norm

Introduction by Sheila, in part:

“I can just start off by saying, I know that this budget is a higher increase than we’ve had in many years. But we haven’t really had a real budget in many years. Because we haven’t had supporting documentation for the selectboard to actually build a meaningful budget in the past years.

If you look at the individual categories, there’s some ups and downs in them. The ups are very small in a lot of the individual categories although they do add up.We really have not even budgeted for what we should budget for. We should have a building reserve fund. We should have an equipment reserve fund. We should have a technology reserve fund. We should have a Grant match reserve fund.

We should start planning for things that pop up unexpectedly or maintenance and repairs. If you read the letter that I wrote in the town report, you will see that for many, many years we have deferred a lot of things that should have been put in place in order to run this town in order to run this office in order to you know, have the people who do the work have the tools that they need to do the work? We shouldn’t expect people to come here and use computers that don’t have the right software or use printers that don’t work or not even be able to scan something.

We need to give people the proper tools to do the work that they need to do.This budget is higher, as I said, then it’s been in the past. Most of that increases in road road maintenance and highway staff.”

Ben inquired on different line items, including highway and health insurance, not disagreeing with them but rather wanting to better understand them. 

Sheila addressed line items regarding office expenses, AJ and Fred addressed highway line items.

Scott answered questions on the finances, the payroll accounting, and other financial aspects. The town anticipates being able to bring some of the accountants’ roles in-house. 

Scott discussed what auditors’ roles would be if the town could find someone (s) to fill the position (s). It could cost upwards of $50,000 to have an accounting firm audit our books.

The full audio transcript can be found on Zoom, Meeting ID: 816 8286 7094.

Respectfully submitted, Lois Deberville, Town Clerk

This is a draft subject to amendment/approval at an upcoming selectboard meeting.

Candidates

Several residents running for local offices were at the Meet the Candidates gathering on February 29. 

Delinquent tax collector: Scott Blanchard, incumbent

Moderator: Ben Tiefenthaler, our town’s current FEMA admin

Planning Commission: Kara Williams, owner of the Washington Village Store (as a write-in candidate, her name needs to be written in AND the oval needs to be colored in)

School Director: Glenn Mack-long time resident who has raised his family here

Selectboard: Robert ‘Fred’ Blanchard-incumbent

Selectboard: Josh Bell-our town’s current Tree Warden

Town Clerk: Lois Deberville-incumbent

Treasurer: Scott Blanchard-incumbent

POSTPONED-EVCSD Annual School District Meeting


POSTPONED-EVCSD Annual School District Meeting

On Thursday, February 29, the Echo Valley School Board voted to postpone the Annual School District Meeting originally scheduled for 6pm on Monday, March 4, 2024.  The Annual School District Meeting is tentatively scheduled to occur on Monday, April 8 at 6pm at the Orange Town Hall.  All budget items will be voted on the floor on April 8.

Voting for School Board Members, School District Clerk, and School District Treasurer will still occur through Australian Ballot voting on Tuesday March 5, 2024.  Orange residents can vote at the Orange Town Hall from 7am-7pm and Washington residents can vote at Washington Village School from 8am-7pm.

The warning for the rescheduled meeting is expected to be posted by Friday March 8 and a revised budget will be mailed to all Echo Valley residents in the week following.

EVCSD will hold a special board meeting at 6pm on Wednesday, March 6 at Washington Village School to discuss a revised budget for the FY25 school year.

For any questions, please contact Superintendent Fedders at 802-433-5818 or mfedders@cvsu.org

Let me know if you have any questions,

Matt

Matthew Fedders

Superintendent of Schools

Central Vermont Supervisory Union

111B Brush Hill Rd.

Williamstown, VT 05679

office 802-433-5818

fax 802-433-5825

Meet candidates and the budget forum

Lois Deberville is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Meet candidates & budget forum
Time: Feb 29, 2024 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81682867094?pwd=D8LbHby0PccsyE4LLNNb3lWNwYYLag.1

Meeting ID: 816 8286 7094
Passcode: 900547


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Meeting ID: 816 8286 7094

Find your local number: https://us06web.zoom.us/u/kwqI0TBZJ

Political Media in Polling Place

 See the following from the Secretary of State’s Voter FAQs page:

“Can I wear a shirt or button demonstrating my favorite candidate into the polling place?

No. If you plan to wear candidate paraphernalia, you will have to cover it while inside the building containing the polling place. The polling place is about voting, not campaigning—once voters have entered the polling place the campaigns have ended.”  See 17 V.S.A. § 2508(a)(1)(A),

“The presiding officer shall ensure during polling hours on the day of the election that:

(A) within the building containing a polling place, no campaign literature, stickers, buttons, name stamps, information on write-in candidates, or other political materials that display the name of a candidate on the ballot or an organized political party or that demonstrate support or opposition to a question on the ballot are displayed, placed, handed out, or allowed to remain;” (emphasis added).

Municipality Election Rules

  1. Write-in candidates need to receive votes of at least 1% of the municipal checklist—or 30 votes, whichever is less—and the most votes to win.  17 VSA 2682a.  If multiple candidates receive the minimum vote (1% of checklist or 30 votes), the person who received the most write-in votes wins.
  2. In contested elections (more than one candidate running for the same office and term), the person who receives the most votes wins.  17 VSA 2682(c).
  3. In the case of a tie-vote, a candidate can withdraw from the race within 5 days.  If none of the tied candidates withdraw, a run-off election will need to be held.  17 VSA 2682b.
  4. If there are no candidates on the ballot and there is no write-in winner, the legislative body may appoint someone to fill that position until the next annual meeting.  17 VSA 2682(d).
  5. Candidates have 10 days from the election to request a recount.  The recount threshold can be found in 17 VSA 2683.  We can assist you if you receive a request for a recount.
  6. On election night, “When the same number of persons are nominated for any town office as there are positions to be filled, the presiding officer may declare the whole slate of candidates elected without making individual tallies, provided each person on the slate has more votes than the largest number of write-in votes for any one write-in candidate.”  17 VSA 2682(f).  For example, if there is 1 candidate on the ballot for an office and one candidate is to be elected, as long as no write-in vote is greater than the named candidate, you can declare the named candidate the winner without tallying each individual vote.  This is the same process you use for the justices of the peace during the general election.

Auditor Duties

2009 Vermont Code
Title 24 – Municipal and County Government
Chapter 51 – FINANCES; ACCOUNTS AND AUDITS (Contains: §§ 1521 – 1697)
§ 1681 –   Auditors; duties; meeting

§ 1681. Auditors; duties; meeting

Town auditors shall meet at least twenty-five days before each annual town meeting, examine and adjust the accounts of all town and town school district officers and all other persons authorized by law to draw orders on the town treasurer. Such auditing shall include the account which the treasurer is required to keep with the collector, the tax accounts of the collector, trust accounts where the town or any town officer, as such officer, is trustee or where the town is sole beneficiary, accounts relating to the town and town school district indebtedness and accounts of any special funds in the care of any town or town school district official. Notice of such meeting shall be given by posting or publication ten days in advance of such meeting. However, if the town has not elected to eliminate the office of auditor, and town auditors and the school board concur, the town auditors need not conduct an audit of school district accounts as to school district fiscal years which are audited by a public accountant. (Amended 1991, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1997, No. 83 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)

Lister Duties

One of the most important responsibilities of a lister is to become educated in listing practices and real estate knowledge. This requires annual training and attendance at as many classes as possible. Becoming certified as a Vermont Property Assessor (via  Property Valuation & Review (PVR)/Vermont Department of Taxes) is highly recommended to establish professionalism and commitment to the position. 

A solid knowledge of the real estate market is crucial to the accuracy of the state’s Equalization Study, which impacts the town’s CLA (Common Level of Appraisal),  education liability and tax rates.  It also ultimately affects the town’s reappraisal status.

  Constant and vigilant knowledge of the real estate market for the town and  surrounding areas. Unique properties require more extensive market research.

 Tracking of market influences and fluctuations within the town

Knowledge & investigation of property sales; analysis and study of the data (market analysis of land schedules, neighborhoods, time adjustment trends, cost  multiplier schedules, etc.) for determining fair market value

 Research and selection of appropriate comparable sales for use in defending listed  values in the grievance process MANY OF THE TASKS LISTERS ACCOMPLISH Real Estate Market Annual Completion of Grand List Grand List tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:

 Review tax exempt properties for accuracy and proper coding. This review requires a firm understanding of the statutes pertaining to full and partial exemptions. Assist owners with exemption applications and determine eligibility. Report any issues or concerns to the state and comply with state requirements for listing of exemptions. This may require, in some cases, extensive deed and statute research and working with an attorney.  

Annual Completion of Grand List Grand List tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:

 Review tax exempt properties for accuracy and proper coding. This review requires a firm understanding of the statutes pertaining to full and partial exemptions. Assist owners with exemption applications and determine eligibility. Report any issues or concerns to the state and comply with state requirements for listing of exemptions. This may require, in some cases, extensive deed and statute research and working with an attorney.  

 Create and maintain office systems (filing, auditing, and data systems). Depending on the size of the town this can require a lot of time.

  Processing property transfers, doing research, reading deeds, making changes. This may require, in some cases, extensive deed research and time to make changes to any or all properties according to statute.  

 Complete and accurate coding of property categories 

 Complete and accurate listing and assessing of all properties. This requires knowledge in grand list software system, cost (CAMA) system, sketching program and ability to collect data knowledgeably to return a value that represents FMV of the property. 

 Existing properties (recording, researching, updating changes)

  New construction (recording, researching, collecting and assessing all changes in the property by permits and/or lack of permits and property transfer returns within the town). Inspections, data collection, measuring, grading, sketching, analyzing, calculating, data entry, valuing. Includes knowledge of assessment procedures and computer grand list and appraisal systems. 

 Defending assessed values established for any property located within the town. (Answering taxpayer questions, recognizing problems, and knowing each level of appeal: lister grievance, board of civil authority, state hearing officer, and court hearings.) Includes selection and representation of comparable properties to defend the fair market value of the assessed property.

  Calculating, assigning and defending all Homestead and Housesite values for each property located within the town. (Includes data collection, data entry, taxpayer  questions and problems, knowledge of ACT 68 definitions and implementation, knowledge of computer appraisal system, knowledge of grand list appraisal system and weekly downloads and verification of HS-122 filings.) 

 Updating property tax maps to reflect changes in acreage, ownership and recording of surveys (this may include extensive time and research to ensure accuracy).

 Deed research as needed to provide accuracy regarding properties being transferred, surveyed or divided to ensure that all information pertaining to the rights and  ownership of the property is accurately recorded and assessed. 

 Current Use—allocation of all property value enrolled and excluded from the Current Use program, including knowledge of the program, knowledge of the effects on  taxation and of changes within the program. This also includes calculation of value and defense of values calculated for penalty purposes (land use change tax,) and  requires knowledge of value and legislation that applies to this calculation. This process involves work in multiple software systems and exchange of information that may require extensive time. 

 Utilities—assessment of utility property within town.

This requires knowledge and continuing education in the changes and valuation process involved in assessing  utility properties. Notification and defense of all assessed utility property values.  Solar projects and cellular tower research and assessment as required. 

 Personal Property—assessment and allocation of business personal property located within the town. This task includes request for information on a yearly basis, analysis and assessment of information received, as well as assessment, notification and  defense of all personal property values.

  Timely and accurate Submission of Abstract Grand List, Final Grand List, 411s and other reports and filings as mandated by legislation

 Special Properties—assessment of special properties with legislative requirements such as solar, cable, subsidized housing, covenant-restricted housing, etc. This requires knowledge of value and taking time to keep up on any changes to legislative requirements.

 Equalization Study 

 Tracking and vetting of all recorded sales to defend and represent each one’s validity to Property Valuation & Review for use in or elimination from the annual  Equalization Study  Document the justification for excluding targeted sales from the study (send  verification letters, make calls, obtain evidence). 

 Discuss sales annually with the District Advisor for your town.  

 Provide PVR with numerous reports, answers to questions, and fixes to issues. 

 Review Equalization Study results: monitor the town’s ratios and their implications. 

 Study trends and be ready to implement a reappraisal when necessary. (When a  reappraisal is necessary, listers have the additional time burden of multiple tasks,  including re-inspecting all properties in town or assisting contracted help.  Reappraisals generally occur every 5-10 years.) 

https://tax.vermont.gov/sites/tax/files/documents/FS-1149.pdf

Special Meeting Echo Valley

Echo Valley Community School Board of Directors

Special Meeting

Thursday, February 29, 2024 – 6:00 pm
Orange Center School – Library
& Google Meet Option:meet.google.com/qvb-fbwp-itm
(US)+1 567-707-0148 PIN: 338 883 272#

Agenda

  1. Call to Order 6:00pm
    a. Permission to Record
    b. Roll Call
  2. Agenda Revision
  3. Public Participation 6:02pm
  4. New Business 6:07pm
    a. FY25 Budget Considerations and Discussion[Receive Information, Discussion, Action] b. Annual Meeting Day Postponement Discussion[Receive Information, Discussion, Action]
  5. Public Participation 7:25pm
  6. Adjournment 7:30pm
    Lee Gardner
    EVCSD Board Chair

Matthew Fedders
Superintendent of Schools

Next EVCSD Meetings
Wed. March 13, 2024
@ 6pm OCS-& Virtual Option

Next CVSU Meeting
Wed. March 27, 2024
@ 6pm-WMHS & Virtual
Option

ATV Petition

We received a valid petition on the ATV Ordinance on 2/22 and have 60 days to schedule a vote. We will put this on the March 12th selectboard agenda.

Thank you,
Sheila Duranleau
Chair, Washington Selectboard