China Budget Committee members have unanimously endorsed three spending measures selectmen will present to voters on Nov. 6.
Nov. 6 local voting includes elections and five referendum questions. The first two, which did not need action at the Sept. 5 Budget Committee meeting, ask if voters want to repeal China’s quorum ordinance (which sets a minimum number of voters required for any town meeting to be held) and if they want to send a resolution to the state legislature asking to authorize municipalities to opt out of collecting personal property taxes (paid on business equipment).
The issues the Budget Committee supported are: (ep)
– A request to appropriate up to $5,000 from Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds to explore possibilities of using the 39-acre former subdivision on Lakeview Drive opposite the Candlewood property for an emergency services building and a community center.
- A request to authorize selectmen to use up to $26,000 from sale of tax-acquired property in the current (2018-19) fiscal year to pay for additional hours and benefits for transfer station employees, due to the new schedule that took effect Sept. 4 and an expected staff change.
- A request to give selectmen continuing annual authority to use up to $100,000 in TIF funds, on recommendation of the TIF Committee, for economic development projects not presented to voters and approved at the March town business meeting.
- On the first issue, Town Manager Dennis Heath emphasized the $5,000 would be used for a conceptual rendering only. The emergency services building he has in mind would house the China Village volunteer fire department and China rescue, provide office and vehicle space for China’s part-time police force and perhaps house a Delta ambulance.
Delta officials have expressed interest in keeping an ambulance in China if there were a place for it, Heath said. China Rescue is a first-responder unit not licensed to transport.
If voters approve the concept, and if the project goes ahead, Heath said other town managers have used TIF economic development money for fire department housing. The rest of the project would probably need other funding sources.
On the transfer station issue, Heath explained that the new schedule requires increasing hours for two part-time employees to the point where they are entitled to benefits. The $26,000 ceiling ought to cover the increases, and is less than China has already taken in this year from the sale of one tax-acquired property, he said.
As of Sept. 4, the transfer station is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, five consecutive days. Hours were sent out with tax bills and are posted on the Town of China web site, in recent issues of The Town Line and elsewhere in town.
Heath said transfer station employee Ed Brownell plans to retire in the spring, necessitating additional changes.
If voters approve the final referendum question, letting the TIF Committee and selectmen spend TIF money without town meeting authorization, projects that come up during the year can be funded without delay, Heath said. The TIF Committee, he reported, asked selectmen to postpone the question to a spring 2019 ballot, to give more time for consideration.
The five Budget Committee members present Sept. 5 endorsed all articles. Votes were 5-0 except on the last question, which was 4-0-1: Budget Committee secretary Jean Conway abstained, since she is a TIF Committee member. (ep)
On Nov. 6, China polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the former portable classroom behind the town office.
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