RICHMOND — The town is proposing an 8.8% spending increase for its 2021-2022 budget, which comes with a 4.33% increase in the amount to be raised by taxes.

The Richmond Selectboard presented its proposed $2.58 million spending plan during a public hearing Monday night. That is a $209,252 increase from its current budget. Selectmen are recommending residents approve all 29 articles on the warrant.

The use of tax increment financing funds and costs covered by undesignated carryover, the town is planning to raise $1.93 million in taxes. That is an increase of $80,364 from the $1.85 million in the current budget.

Richmond is asking residents to raise $783,097 for the intergovernmental and administrative-related costs, a $25,301 increase from last year. Public works is rising to $442,321 from $419,273, and residents are being asked to raise $112,828 next year for the senior center, library and recreation budget lines.

For the senior center and library, cost increases are related to cleaning services due to coronavirus and general expenses for running the buildings. Cleaning the building at the library increased from $1,300 to $2,600. The intergovernmental costs are for the code enforcement officer, budgets and committees, and the public service agencies.

Some spending, like the town building repair fund and vehicle fund, is being funded by carryover money, according to the warrant articles.

Costs in the public safety departments are decreasing, $495,114 in comparison to last year’s $518,507, due in part to $57,325 in TIF funds being moved to that part of the budget.

At Monday’s meeting, Interim Town Manager Laurisa Loon noted articles 27-29 as discussion items. Most discussion, however, surrounded Article 27, which is related to proposed amendments to the Land Use Ordinance. More than one member of the community said changes to the ordinance was moving “too fast.”

The proposed Land Use Ordinance would change residential, commercial and agricultural uses.

“This does not mean that agricultural land uses are not permitted,” the warrant said. “In fact, they are permitted in all districts throughout the town, as they always have been, the purpose is to focus development in a certain area and retail agricultural land.”

Resident Joshua Antel worried, if passed, there would be a change in Richmond, prompting larger businesses to move in. He said, along with his wife, it takes away the reason why they moved to the town.

Richmond Selectman O’Neil LaPlante said any changes that could arise if the ordinance passes would have to be voted on by the town, referencing repaving or widening roads, or a larger-scale development that could potentially come to town.

“I’m curious why the town didn’t take a slower approach to growth,” said Antel. “It just seems like a large area to carve out in one go.”

Another resident, Mary Kate Newton, was concerned about the “large” area of land carved out for commercial use. She asked if residents were asked, door to door, out of fear residents, particularly older residents, would not be able to make it to selectboard, or Richmond Planning Board meetings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Newton said it affects where she lives, but wondered if it was an issue being talked about in the community.

“There was no personal contact, or door to door, other than meetings themselves, there was no personal contact in getting the word out to people,” the selectboard Chairperson Robert Bodge said.

In Article 28, if the food sovereignty ordinance passes, it would reduce government regulation of direct producer-to-consumer purchases of locally produced food. The ordinance would not apply to poultry or meat because of the government regulation needed to sell the products. There was no further discussion by community members about the article.

Article 29 refers to the withdrawal from Regional School Unit 2, which has been widely talked about among other members of the school unit, mainly due to next year’s proposed school budget. That spending plan includes a 7.4% increase in Richmond’s allocation.

LaPlante said at past meetings the withdrawal from the school unit not for any financial decisions, but rather “a relation that never came to fruition.”

Resident concerns prompted the selectboard to schedule a meeting on the Land Use Ordinance Amendment for 7 p.m. May 11. There will be a public hearing May 17 at 5:30 p.m. about the RSU 2 withdrawal.

Also on the ballot are two selectboard positions, one RSU 2 school board seat, two town budget committee members and one Richmond Utilities District member. LaPlante and Bodge are up for reelection for their selectboard positions; Jay Brown, current member of RSU 2 school board is running for reelection against Katlyn Thomas. Therese Acord is running unopposed for budget committee and Nathan Bodge is running unopposed for the Utilities District position.

As for tax collections, residents are voting on the date when property taxes are available and due, from Nov. 10, 2021, to the last payable date of May 10, 2022. For taxes after the May date, there will be a 6% late fee.

Residents of Richmond will vote on the warrant articles on June 8 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the town grange.

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