POWNAL — A change in federal guidelines for the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds meant ARPA money could go directly into the city’s general fund, easing the burden on taxpayers and simplifying choices faced by the Select Board to finalize a budget for fiscal year 2023.
The board warned and posted on the city website a general fund budget of $1,300,913, including $783,581 from local taxes and $167,481 from surplus funds not designated in the current budget. This represents an increase from the municipal budget of $1,138,010 approved in March 2021.
The city’s highway budget was warned at $1,422,485, including $851,391 to be taken from local taxes and $184,794 taken from undesignated surplus funds. The road budget approved by voters last spring was $1,118,545.
The annual Pownal floor meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the elementary school, while the annual election is March 1 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pownal Center Firehouse.
The amount to be withheld from taxes in the city budget was cut by $50,000 after the council learned that ARPA guidelines now allow communities receiving less than $10 million to put the money directly in the general fund, and permitted uses and simplified reporting requirements.
The council also intends to consult with the New England Municipal Resource Center on how to implement an accounting format for the use of federal funding.
The council had previously struggled to cover a $200,000 increase in the New City Hall project, with previous plans calling for more of this year’s budget surplus funds to be used to cover the shortfall. News of the availability of ARPA funds could mean that more of the current surplus could be used to reduce the 2022 tax rate.
Pownal expects to receive $509,000 in the first phase of funding under the federal ARPA COVID-19 pandemic relief program, and another $509,000 is expected in the second phase next year.
The council also decided to use up to $325,000 of ARPA funding to replace an aging sewage system pump station.
Among the individual ballot items on the annual warning is a request for $38,000 for a permanent kennel for the animal control officer to house dogs and other animals. There is also a request for $16,000 for the Pownal Rescue Squad to cover workers’ compensation insurance costs following a change in mostly paid attendants and the formation of the team as a purpose entity. non-profit.
When the service was entirely voluntary, it could be placed under city policies, at an approximate cost of $1,200 per year. Squad members said the current cost, with paid employees, is estimated at $18,000.
The kennel project is proposed by board of directors and animal control officer Leonard Côté, who said there are currently no waiting areas that allow the kennels to be heated or water to clean them.
He told the board that a space for the officer to safely access dogs or other animals was also needed.
The Select Council also proposes the elimination of city-elected auditor positions and elected auditor positions, with these functions to be performed by an accounting firm and a professionally qualified appraiser.
Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media, including Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal, and Brattleboro Reformer. Email [email protected]