The Mountain Times

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Voters to decide budget, health insurance

KILLINGTON-Killington voters have five decisions to make when they go to the polls in March.

Of the five articles on the warning, the first three are fairly routine: electing town officers, deciding the dates on which property taxes are due, and a petition article asking Killington to contribute $1,200 toward the Marble Valley bus system.

That leaves the town budget (Article 4) and a petition article to keep town employees' health insurance the same in 2012 as it was last year, an additional cost of $10,000 for taxpayers (Article 5.)

Article 4 seeks voter approval for a proposed $5.9 million budget, of which $2.2 million would come from property taxes, $1.3 million from other revenue sources, $2 million from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover damage from Tropical Storm Irene, and about $183,000 in unspent economic and tourism funds.

"We were facing some major financial challenges from Irene and the golf course," Interim Town Manager Seth Webb said. "We wanted to address each of these without raising taxes."

The tropical storm which blew through Vermont back in August caused millions of dollars of damage to Killington. The Green Mountain National Golf Course is owned by the town and has been struggling with debt issues for some time.

Webb said these were being dealt with by cuts in certain town functions and keeping town department  funding at current levels.

"It's about holding the line," Webb said. "A lot of departments received level funding, or just below level funding."

One department took a large hit, according to the proposed budget: economic development.

"We cut EDT by about 40 percent," Webb said.

In the meantime, the town is going after revenue.

"Flood recovery has been gradual, with many hurdles," he said. "We are aggressively pursuing FEMA reimbursement. We have some untapped option funds, which have been accumulating over time, and there is the $183,000 in unspent economic development funds."

No one seems to want responsibility for Article 5, the petition article for employee health insurance, which appeared out of the blue. Town Clerk Lucrecia Wonsor said the petition was filed through the mail. It had been signed by 44 voters, which is the 5 percent needed to get an article on the warrant.

Earlier this year, the board of selectmen decided, in a 2-to-1 vote, to have town employees pay 25 percent of their health insurance deductibles. The town had been covering the deductibles in full. Article 5 seeks, essentially, to bring the full town payment back.

"I had no idea it was coming," Webb said. "If the article were to pass, it would mean the board would have to come up with another $24,500."

Webb urged voters to attend the informational meeting to be held at 7 p.m. on March 5 at the Killington Elementary School.

"We want to encourage everyone to come to that meeting," he said. "It's the best opportunity to ask questions about the warning articles. We also want people to vote on March 6."

Polls will be open at the schoolhouse from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tagged: Vote, Killington