CHINA: Organizations answer questions about budget requests

Hikers on Bridge in Thurston Park (Photo courtesy: Town of China)

by Mary Grow

China select board members discussed the 2024-25 budget for much of their Feb. 26 meeting, and scheduled another meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, March 4, to continue the topic.

At this stage, they are reviewing Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood’s recommended figures and requests from various committees, organizations and other recipients of town money. They will forward the resulting draft budget to the budget committee for its members’ input.

Final decisions will be made by voters at the annual town business meeting, scheduled as a secret ballot vote on Tuesday, June 11.

More than a dozen town employees and residents attended the Feb. 26 meeting, most to answer select board members’ questions about budget requests.

Select board members are interested in minimizing the tax increase they foresee for the 2024-25 fiscal year. Preliminary proposals to reduce spending in the draft budget included cutting anticipated tipping fees for demolition debris disposal (from the transfer station section of the budget) and cutting the contribution to the fire departments’ capital reserve fund (public safety).

China Village fire chief Joel Nelson said he foresees two major expenses, replacing air packs and repairing or replacing the fire station roof. He is seeking grants, with no guarantee of success.

Select board members deleted the stipends for themselves they had tentatively approved at an earlier meeting. They reduced that line (in the boards and committees section of the budget) from $12,500 to Hapgood’s recommended $1,500 for training and similar expenses.

A request for Thurston Park funding, also in the boards and committees account, drew the longest and hottest debate of the evening.

Select board chairman Wayne Chadwick opposed the $12,675 Jeanette Smith, chairman of the Thurston Park Committee, requested for supplies and maintenance.

Chadwick, while appreciating the enthusiasm of the volunteers who support and maintain the park, questioned the value of the area, which he said many China residents cannot even locate.

Smith said the park brings recreationists to China, where they are likely to spend money in local establishments. If the park is not well known, that is because town officials do nothing to promote it, she said.

Selectman Wayne Chadwick said on his most recent visits to Thurston Park he met no one. Thurston Park Committee member Scott Monroe said he meets families in Thurston Park.

Chadwick said on his most recent visits to Thurston Park he met no one; and he prefers the unmaintained trails at Lake St. George State Park. Thurston Park Committee member Scott Monroe said he meets families in Thurston Park, and prefers maintained trails.

Chadwick made a motion to cut $10,000 from the Thurston Park appropriation. Board member Janet Preston amended the reduction to $2,500. Preston’s amendment was approved, supported by herself, Blane Casey and Jeanne Marquis and opposed by Chadwick and Brent Chesley.

The motion to cut $2,500 was then defeated, with Preston and Marquis voting for it and Chadwick, Chesley and Casey opposed.

Casey’s motion to recommend $8,500 for Thurston Park under the boards and committees account was approved unanimously.

The revised total of $84,220 for the boards and committees account was unanimously recommended to the budget committee.

China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund was the other budget line on which board members made final recommendations to the budget committee. They approved nine appropriations recommended by the TIF Committee at its Feb. 5 meeting (see the Feb. 8 issue of The Town Line, p. 2).

Select board members lacked information to act on three non-budget items on their Feb. 26 agenda.

Hapgood shared a draft of the proposed new Solar Energy Systems Ordinance. Chesley had questions, which planning board chairman Toni Wall said the planning board would address at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Hapgood said town attorney Amanda Meader has not finished preparing suggested revisions to the town’s Land Use Ordinance that will incorporate required parts of the new state housing law, LD 2003.

The manager is investigating a senior check in service as something the town might offer, but she needs more time to collect information. She described it as a program for which seniors could sign up to ask a town employee to call at intervals to make sure the resident was all right.


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