MOUNT VERNON — Residents approved a $1.9 million town budget at Saturday’s annual Town Meeting that put Mount Vernon over its state tax levy limit.

Voters approved every item put before them at the meeting, although several residents expressed concern and had questions about the town’s need to exceed the state-set tax levy limit of $972,000, with a tax increase of about $152,000.

Increases to the town budget from the current year include a $41,000 hike in the Fire Department budget, to $182,600, and a $40,000 increase, to $100,000, for winter sand and salt for road maintenance, due to increased costs of those materials, which is part of a $158,000, or 20%, increase in spending on public works and highways.

Robert Grenier, chairman of the Select Board, said even with increased spending on public works projects, the town is not keeping up with the need to maintain its roads, which he said are increasingly being damaged by major storms, sometimes to the extent roads became impassable without immediate repairs.

“It always comes up: Why are our roads as bad as they are,” Grenier said at the annual Town Meeting, attended by about 75 residents. “We’re losing ground, we’re not raising a heck of a lot more each year and we’re just not going to cover much ground as we’re going. We’re definitely not raising enough, and if you want to cut money on roads, I’m not sure where we’re going to go.”

Resident Ona Fast said she heard grant funds might be available, which has been brought to the attention of selectmen and could bring the town significant money to help pay for road repairs.


Grenier said the town is investigating a regional grant application that could bring nearly $1 million, but the application is not due until next February or March. He said the town is also seeking payments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover the cost of repairs to roads from storm damage.

Near the end of the Town Meeting, residents voted to allow the town to exceed the state-determined property tax levy limit, according to Grenier.

Early in the meeting, Treasurer Kerry Casey said if all the funding items on the warrant were approved, the town would be above the limit.

By law, municipalities have a cap on how much they can increase the property tax levy without approval from voters. The calculation to arrive at the limit takes into account income and property growth factors.

Town Meeting warrants routinely include an article authorizing an increase in the limit, if needed, and the vote is by secret ballot.

Residents at the nearly three-hour meeting also voted to:


• Approve $187,000 to operate the transfer station.

• Appropriate $63,500 — $54,000 of that to be raised from taxes and $9,500 from grants — for recreation and community.

• Authorize the use of $51,000 in undesignated funds to provide $30,000 for a new boiler for the fire station and $21,000 for a new backup emergency communications antenna to be placed at the Town Office.

• Use $31,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for road maintenance and brush removal.

Voters also approved updates to the land use ordinance, adopting proposed changes to the campgrounds and summer camps ordinance.

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