According to selectboard chair Teddy Hopkins, who has decided not to run for reelection this year, the town has seen an increase in turnover at the listers office in recent years. With the position becoming more technologically advanced and featuring an increasing number of laws, the cost of training a new lister is money the town feels could be better spent. “For a few years it’s been generally newcomers being elected to the board of listers,” said Hopkins. “By the time they go through the three-year learning curve, it seems they lose interest. There’s an education curve, and the town keeps paying for training and salary while there seems to be no longevity at the position.”
Hopkins said the town is taking this course of action after a law was enacted in July 2013 that said towns could abolish the office of lister and hire an outside firm. According to Hopkins, one of these firms would cost the same as the annual salary and training budget currently expended by the town on the position. For fiscal year 2013, the lister salary was set at $8,000, while the total projected budget was $18,772.
The town is also asking the voters to approve the elimination of the personal property tax, which the town collects on entities claiming $5,000 or more in personal property. Hopkins says that there are very few businesses in Readsboro that claim this amount, and going through the protocol of collecting the tax has outweighed the money taken in. Fiscal year 2013 saw the collection of approximately $950, an amount Hopkins said is hardly worth the town’s clerical costs and delinquent collection notices.
Article six seeks the transfer of $37,743 or any other sum from the 2013 fund balance to the town-owned buildings reserve fund. Currently the fund has a balance of $28,300, and the town foresees needed maintenance expenditures on the town garage and transfer station, while the town warehouse will need a new roof soon, projected to cost $15,000. The town is also looking for voters to approve $30,000 for the town bridge fund.
If voters approve article 11, the establishment of a fire equipment repair and replacement fund, they will in turn have to decide on an amount to put in it. Last year, the establishment of this fund was voted down, following discussion over the fund’s name, which called the fund a “fire truck replacement” fund. Last year voters did approve $10,000 for protective equipment for the fire department, while $50,000 was appropriated for the bridge fund. This year, Hopkins said the bridge fund did not require $50,000, and the town is instead looking to split that total of $60,000 between the fire department’s needs and the bridge fund.
According to Hopkins, Readsboro’s tax rate is in the same ballpark as last year. In 2013 the town voted to raise and appropriate $860,697, and in 2014, that amount decreased to $860,145.