LITCHFIELD — Over the course of three hours Saturday, about 80 local voters approved a $2.3 million town spending plan for next year, which is 4 percent more than the current year’s $2.2 million spending plan.

Combined with changes in the school budget, the new municipal budget will increase by 40 cents the town’s current tax rate of $16.15 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

That means the owner of a $100,000 home will owe $40 more — or a total of $1,655 — in taxes next year.

The new spending plan includes $50,000 for the construction of a new roof on the central fire station and another $50,000 for the addition of a compactor at the transfer station that will allow single-source recycling.

That recycling system will be installed over the next couple month and is meant to save time for transfer station workers and also encourage recycling by residents, said Bryan Lamoreau, the transfer station manager.

To use it, residents will have to deliver all their recyclables in clear plastic bags. Lamoreau said the plastic bags will be available at the transfer station in the first few months of the program. He also plans to work with local businesses to get them to stock the bags.

Voters also agreed to increase the salary of incoming selectmen by $1,000. Two selectmen, Mark Russell and Rayna Leibowitz, will continue to make $2,000; but Gary Parker, who was elected last week, will make $3,000. That change was proposed by George Thomson, an outgoing selectman.

The Town Meeting was held at the Litchfield Sportsmen’s Club and moderated by Earl Lamoreau, who assured attendees — in jest — that no Russians interfered in the town election last week.

During the meeting, residents also approved several last-minute funding requests, including an additional $2,000 sought by Russell, chairman of the Select Board, to explore improvements for the town website, which was down for a period last winter.

“Over the last couple months, I’ve heard comments and suggestions about the website,” Russell said. “We need to examine how the website can meet the needs of the town, and it’s going to take more than what’s in the budget.”

Russell’s wife, Vicki, told residents that she was looking at different hosting services for the website and asked for volunteers to help.

And Kelly Weissenfels, a part-time town clerk who was hired recently to work on the town’s website, said he is trying to find solutions to some of its challenges at minimal expense.

Town Manager Trudy Lamoreau said she and Weissenfels are researching how to upload videos of selectmen’s meetings onto the website.

Another last-minute funding request came from Trudy Lamoreau, who asked voters to approve $1,000 for monthly pest control services at the Town Office to address what she called “an infestation of ants and mice.”

“We’re not seeing the critters as much, but we are seeing the ants,” she told attendees.

Later in the meeting, Trudy Lamoreau said that the town’s animal control officer recently recovered a high number of wild cats in Litchfield, which prompted several attendees to suggest — also in jest — taking the felines to the Town Office to solve the mouse problem.

Most of the spending items were approved without resistance, but Richard Lane, a member of the town’s Budget Committee, objected to some of the costs associated with the Litchfield senior center and the community park.

“Let’s put a cap on some of these things,” he said.

Multiple residents came to the defense of those programs, though, and voters ultimately approved about $15,000 for the senior center, most of which goes to its director; and about $5,000 for the construction of a parking lot at the community park.

Residents agreed to accept a mix of projected revenue totaling $891,612 and to use $100,000 from the town’s undesignated funds to offset the effect of the spending increases.

They also passed three amendments to the town’s land use and subdivision ordinances. One of them prohibits electronic signs from changing any faster than every 5 seconds.

Another created a process for the Planning Board to review building plans to ensure they’re consistent with the architectural standards and rural character of certain neighborhoods.

Larry Nadeau II, the town’s road commissioner and a business owner, objected to the latter change on the grounds that it could “greatly increase the costs” for businesses to open in Litchfield.

But several residents disagreed with the assertion that the new rules would be burdensome and said the rule would preserve the town’s historical character.

“‘Greatly’ is relative,” said Paul Hempstead, the Planning Board chairman, in response to Nadeau.

Hempstead added that business owners could avoid excessive costs by consulting with the board early in the building process. He also said Litchfield has a development district that’s exempt from the new rule.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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