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The Proposed FY 24 Town Municipal Services Budget: The proposed FY 24 municipal services budget maintains our current level of town services and addresses additional resource needs in information technology due to expanding cybersecurity threats and increased service fees for departmental specific software and internet connectivity, as well as a Civilian Evidence Technician in the Colchester Police Department and additional resources needed for data storage and transmission required for Body Worn Cameras and Digital Evidence Software, previously approved by the Selectboard. This role of Evidence Technician was previously filled by a rotating assignment of a police detective. Due to the increasing responsibilities and time commitment to this role, it was determined that we would be better served hiring a civilian to oversee collection, logging, storing and as appropriate, disposing of evidence and property that come into our possession. We funded this position temporarily by holding one of our 29 police officer positions open, but our long-term plan was to obtain funding for this position so we could maintain 29 officers due to the high rate of calls for police services and the need to better distribute our call volume among the staff. The Tax impact of the municipal services budget, along with previously approved capital items, is a 5.7% increase to municipal service property taxes. Examples of the impact are noted below.
The Town Municipal Services Budget is comprised of twenty-five service categories. The expenses of four of these service categories have been reduced and twenty-one have increased.
Examples of increased costs for maintaining the same level of municipal services include:
Colchester Police Services & Utilities: +$135,649 which includes annual contracts such as Howard Center Community Outreach as well as additional resources needed for data storage and transmission required for body worn cameras and digital evidence software, previously approved by the Selectboard.
Colchester Police Civilian Evidence Technician: +102,000 includes the hiring of a civilian to oversee collection, logging, storing, and as appropriate, disposing of evidence and property that come into our possession. This position was previously filled by a rotating assignment of a police detective. Due to the increasing responsibilities and time commitment to this role, it was determined that we would be better served hiring a civilian for this role.
Information Technology (IT): +95,417 includes resources needed to address expanding cybersecurity threats, increased fees for department- specific software and internet connectivity
Increased cost for fuel: +$40,000 Unleaded prices are estimated to increase 23% from what was budgeted during the current year. Diesel prices are projected to increase 31% from what was budgeted during the current fiscal year.
Increased Costs for Health Insurance: +$210,000 The Town’s health carrier raised its rates by 18%. These costs would have been much higher had we not aggressively negotiated directly with multiple insurance companies
Increased Costs for all Petroleum-based Products: +$20,000 Petroleum-based products, i.e. oil, grease, diesel exhaust fluid, have already increased 20-38% from what was budgeted during the current fiscal year as well as cost increases for other equipment maintenance supplies needed.
Increased Costs for Legal Counsel: +30,000 Due to recent price increase notifications from various law firms, we have increased our FY24 budgeted funds for legal counsel to reflect the increase in attorney fees.
Estimated Tax Rate: The town Municipal Services Budget and Capital Funding total $13,761,411 net of non-property tax revenues. With an estimated 1.05% growth in the Grand List, the estimated municipal services tax rate for FY 2024 is $0.6080. The tax rate is estimated to increase by $0.0330 (a little less than three and a half cents per $100 of assessed property value) or a 5.7% increase over the prior year.
FY 24 Estimated Municipal Property Tax Impact
Estimated Municipal Property Tax Impact (Compared to FY 23)