AVON — Voters on Saturday approved a 2016 budget and chose municipal officials.

The town meeting was moderated by Richard Caton. Elections for seven municipal officials were taken from the floor, with all but one incumbent being re-elected without opposition. John Calloway will continue as third selectman. Maureen Haley as treasurer, Mary Dunham as tax collector and town clerk, Bruce Dunham as constable and Jerry Haines as road commissioner.

In a close decision by paper ballot, Wendy Warnock defeated Regional School Union 58 Director Jason Plog by a vote of 17-14. Warnock will begin her duties on July 1, when the district’s fiscal year begins.

This year’s budget of $179,000 is a significant reduction, reflecting the town’s close supervision of spending, said First Selectman Greta Espeaignnette.

“Last year’s costs to run the town were approximately $211,000,” she said.

Regional School Union 58 Superintendent Susan Pratt addressed voters, saying the district would receive more state subsidy than expected.

“The state came through with some additional money,” she said.

She predicted that property taxpayers would see less taxation than last year for their share of the district budget.

Of all of the selectmen’s financial requests, funding to maintain and repair town roads continues to demand a large portion of each year’s total budget. Voters appropriated $35,000 from excise taxes for the repair of town ways this summer.

Espeaignnette told voters that although a culvert on Avon Valley Road must be replaced, she was optimistic the town would receive a $75,600 grant to defray total costs. Voters will not have to raise that additional money from taxes, and the final project costs can be revisited next year when selectmen know whether they will receive the grant money. Voters also approved $35,000 from excise tax funds for the plowing and sanding of winter roads.

Espeaignnette made an impassioned plea for more community involvement to help keep Walli Park and Rollins Playground on the Avon Valley Road in safe and usable condition.

“We need warm bodies,” she said, generating laughter from the audience.

The playground equipment is deteriorating and the town has reserve money available for some projects. Selectmen also can apply for grants, but citizens have to become involved to help develop a plan of action, she said. Interested individuals can contact the Town Office.

As the town does not have its own library, transfer station or fire department, voters raised and appropriated funds to pay neighboring municipalities for these services. Voters will send $2,200 to the Phillips Public Library, $27,000 to Phillips and $8,000 to Strong for fire protection, and $30,000 for use of the Phillips transfer station.

The annual town report showed that many cost centers still had money from the previous year, requiring fewer requests for additional tax dollars. Voters responded generously to funding requests from Safe Voices, Community Concepts, American Red Cross, LifeFlight Foundation, Healthy Community Coalition, Community Concepts and the Phillips Area Food Pantry.


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