Town Meeting 2015 – Tonkin Re-elected to Selectboard

From The Plymouth Press

Attendance was low Monday night at this year’s Town Meeting. The usual crowd was likely deterred by the slippery roads and the lack of major issues this year. The budget was passed uneventfully, a change from several of the past years.

Russ Tonkin presented an overview of the budget and changes to it from past years. For the first time in several years, there will be no carryover funds to offset the taxes needed to be raised. The selectboard decided it would be better to have working capital on hand rather than take out loans to cover payments to contractors as the town waits for FEMA reimbursements for projects. The selectboard does expect the FEMA payments to come this year, but the timing might not match up with when bills will be owed. Unfortunately this does mean the tax rate will increase to cover the budget, even though the proposed budget was lower than last year’s budget.

Some pointed to the possibility of a town wide reassessment to help keep taxes low due to lower property values. Tonkin and others countered that even if property values were reassessed, the budget wouldn’t change and the taxes the town needed to raise would remain the same. This solution would only raise the effective tax rate more, they explained. The tax rate will amount to less than $.50 per $1,000 or under $500 per $100,000 in assessed value. The education tax, which is more than $1 per $1000 in assessed value, makes up the bulk of voters’ tax bills.

State Rep Alison Clarkson was on hand to talk about the issues on the forefront in Montpelier. Many in the room demanded reform of the education funding process, which has become so burdensome to Plymouth residents, among other issues raised.

On Tuesday, 133 Plymouth voters participated. In the only contested race, Russ Tonkin received 70 votes to be re-elected versus Andy Crossman who received 59 votes. Thanks to all who made the effort to go to the polls and to Town Meeting this year.

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