Depot Street bridge, Bellows Falls

Arched bridge that carries Depot Street over the canal is in poor condition.

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. -- With fiscal year 2019 winding to a close, Bellows Falls Finance Director Shannon Burbela reported that the village will likely end the year with a surplus, due to higher revenues than projected and considerably lower expenses in the police department budget. 

Burbela presented a 2019 budget report to the village trustees last night, at the last regular village meeting before the annual meeting on Monday, when Bellows Falls residents will vote on its 2020 operating budget, additional warrant articles and elect village officials.

According to Burbela’s report, total expenditures for 2019 are projected to be $84,000 below budget, primarily due to two current officer vacancies in the department, one full-time and one part-time, totalling $70,000 less in payroll and $25,000 less in insurance. 

Projected overtime costs for police officers also expect to be $8,500 below budget, despite slightly higher overtime hours for the month of April. Burbela attributed this to a three-hour department meeting on April 10 regarding the police-involved shooting on March 8. 

Revenues for 2019 also project to be $10,700 higher than budgeted from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.



meeting preparation

Municipal Manager Wendy Harrison gave an overview of plans for Monday night’s portion of the village annual meeting with trustees, which will open with a performance by the Bellow Falls Middle School choir.

The proposed operating budget for 2020 asks voters to approve $1,744,325 in expenditures, with $1,711,420 to be raised by taxes. The proposed budget is a $70,105 increase from the current year, a change of four percent. 

Voters will also consider whether to raise an additional $30,000 to cover repairs and improvements to the fire and police building, which Harrison said represents a second installment of the facility’s multi-year repair plan. If approved this money will cover the removal of the building’s chimney, which is pulling away from the building and resulting in basement leaks, and replacing the building’s oil tank.

The trustees may consider, pending approval of the repair funds, whether to install a new oil tank or upgrade the heating system to a more cost-efficient propane system.  Though Trustee James McAuliffe raised questions regarding that possible change, Trustee Jonathan Wright recommended the board halt discussion until voters actually appropriate the money.

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