RICHMOND — Voters in Richmond will decide Tuesday whether to back a $2.7 million budget that grants livable wages to town employees and balances the needs of the town despite certain departments facing inflation-driven increases.

At the polls on June 14, residents also will weigh in on the Regional School Unit 2 budget and a slate of local races for seats on the school board, select board, budget committee and utilities district.

Richmond’s proposed budget of $2,729,922 is up 5.6%, or $146,251, from last year. The amount to be raised by taxes this year has increased by about 7% at this point, but the mill rate will not be set until September, after the school district budget is locked in, the town has completed assessing property values and has received its estimated allotment of state funds.

Town Manager Laurisa Loon said town officials remain hopeful that property taxes will not increase once those factors are addressed. Currently, the amount to be raised by the town in taxes is $2,076,281, up from $1,934,610 last year. The town has tried to lessen the impact by contributing $130,786 from the TIF fund and $522,855 from its undesignated balance.

Loon said the town minimized the overall budget increase by balancing the areas that needed more funding this year, such as the public works department, with decreases to other parts of the budget, including the administrative, capital outlay and police sections. And notably, while balancing the budget, the town established a locked-in price on fuel despite the rising costs and created wages for its employees that it considers more competitive and livable.

“We had to increase a lot in public works for the cost of salt, sand, everything,” Loon said. “I’m sure all the towns are saying this with the cost of supplies. We are trying to get livable wages and gave a 3% wage increase but it’s a balancing act. We are trying but have what we need to run the town.”


Public works has the largest budget increase and is at a proposed amount of $424,004 — a difference of $58,375 from last year’s budget. But the town applied $60,280 from its TIF fund to public works, covering more than the entire difference.

The town opted into a fixed gas rate as well with Dennis K. Burke Inc. for less than what was budgeted. The town will be able to purchase fuel for $3.39 per gallon of gas and $3.59 per gallon of diesel. Officials originally budgeted $3.46 per gallon of gas and $3.69 per gallon of diesel.

As for the town’s wages, Loon said Richmond has struggled to find and maintain employees, and currently the town has an open position in the public works department and two in the police department. Raising the wages by 3% brought some positions from making around $18 per hour to $20 per hour.

The proposed police department budget for next year is $245,014, a decrease of $25,400 from last year.

“What we have in the budget is for three officers instead of four and there is a reason for that, a couple of things. The police department has been operating with three officers and has always had trouble filling the fourth,” Loon said. “And, to get the wages up higher to pay three officers a good wage versus trying to split the budget between four. They have done a good job at three officers and with a town this size, it seems like the way to go.”

Other areas of the budget with large budgeted amounts seeing an increase include fire/EMS and public safety. The fire/EMS portion of the proposed budget is $145,105, an increase of $22,046 from last year. And public safety went up by $35,206 to bring the total proposed amount to $194,172, with $58,404 covered by the TIF contribution.


TIF funds also will cover part of the parks and cemeteries portion of the budget, where the proposed total cost is $20,602, an increase of $5,072 from last year. Most of that — $12,102 — is covered by the TIF, with the remaining $8,500 to be raised through taxes.

Richmond voters will be able to choose one of three candidates for a three-year term on the select board. O’Neil LaPlante Jr., who has served on the board before but is not currently on it, is running against Marilynn Grizkewitsch and Ann Page. There is also a contested race for the Richmond Utilities District, with Jeremy Bechard and Brian Woodbury running.

Mark Pearson, one of Richmond’s representative to the RSU 2 board of directors, is not seeking reelection, and Liana Knight is running unopposed in his place. The other uncontested race is for the budget committee, with Woodbury also running for the position.

Voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Richmond Hallway Garage on High Street.

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