Shoring up historic building 1 of 3 warrant articles

MONT VERNON – With a projected operating budget increase of about $100,000 and a failing economy, selectmen are suggesting passing only three other warrant articles: a state-mandated reassessment of property; replacement of the supporting lally columns at the McCollom Building; and repair of a fire truck. About $50,000 in contributions to capital reserve funds should be put off a year.

“But that is only my opinion,” Selectman Chairman Jack Esposito told the 10 people at the public budget hearing on Monday. “It’s up to the voters to make the decision.”

Approval of the budget and all warrant articles would add about 30 cents per $1,000 valuation to the tax rate, Esposito said. The current budget proposal, which was to be revised downward in several places after the hearing, is $1,890,860. Last year’s budget was $1,790,415.

>>Town Meeting ‘09<< Budget increases include a 5 percent cost-of-living raise for all employees, changes in payment for the town clerk, other repairs to the McCollom Building, an increase of about $10,000 in the police part-time salaries line to provide more coverage, and repair of the highway department fuel tank.The 14 lally columns supporting the floor of the McCollom Building, built as Appleton Academy in the 1850s, are below water level and deteriorating. "Two have rotted through, and we feel it is mandatory that we fix them now," Esposito said. The budget and articles will be voted at Town Meeting, March 10, beginning at 7 p.m.