By Jen Flaster, Plymouth Press
Nearly 50 Plymouth residents came out for Town Meeting on Monday evening. There was little discussion on the first two agenda items. The vote to allocate $11,808 for Human Services easily passed.
The question on the town budget was amended by select board chair Ralph Michael to update a typo printed in the report, so voters considered if the town would vote to raise $1,205,454 to cover expenses in the amount of $1,305,454. Discussion on the town budget was minimal, although one voter noted that the town now has at least $1 million on hand in cash, which is higher than in the past. Larry Lynds responded that the auditors report came after the budget was set, but it’s something the select board could consider when they set next year’s budget. If cash on hand remains at that level, perhaps the town would not need to raise as much to cover expenses next year.
The final question on the agenda had the town considering whether to exempt the state portion of Bethany Birches’ property tax. The camp pays its municipal tax, but was requesting that it be relieved of the $17,000 in education taxes to the state. Brandon Bergey, executive director of Bethany Birches was on hand and he answered many questions. He and others spoke up about the benefits that Bethany Birches, a nonprofit organization, provides to Plymouth residents and the larger community. Some spoke about how they use the facilities for birthday parties free of charge, and the camps provide public access for snowmobiling and ice skating. The funds saved in not paying the education tax would go towards aiding low income campers to come to camp.
While many in attendance support the camps and their services, there were many questions about how this tax relief would affect Plymouth taxpayers. The cost to taxpayers was estimated at $7 per $100,000 in property value. There was no time frame stated in the question, so voters asked for how long would Plymouth residents have to cover this tax liability. Would those taxes go up over time as education tax rates changed? Per Brandon and state representative Charlie Kimball who was also in attendance, the tax relief typically is given for a 5-year period. After the close of discussion, the vote was taken by paper ballot and the question passed by 24 yeahs to 22 nays.
After the close of the meeting, Charlie Kimball presented on what’s happening in Montpelier. He left copies of a summary of issues he’s working on at the town office and invited Plymouth residents to get in touch with him or set up a visit in Montpelier.
Plymouth Election Results
Town Moderator: Tom Harris
Selectperson: Ralph Michael
Lister (3 years): Tom Marrone
Lister (1 year): Paul Kowalski
Trustee of Public Funds: Bobbi Jean Lambert
Collector of Delinquent Taxes: Kathleen Billings
Grand Juror: Shawn Bemis
Town Agent: Joyce Cooper
Cemetery Commissioner: Michael Pierson
WCMUUSD/Town of Plymouth
School Director (3 years): Morgan Sailer
School Director (1 year): Jen Flaster
Appropriation of Funds: Yes
Total votes cast: 109