by Mickey Smith
About 25 Johnson voters turned out for a Special Town Meeting at the Johnson Municipal Building on Thursday evening, September 27.
At the meeting, after what Johnson Municipal Manager Duncan Hastings described as some “good discussion,” the voters approved three articles clearing up the wishes of the voters.
The first article involved the tax exempt status of the Newport Ambulance Service building (doing business as Northern Emergency Medical Services) on Wilson Road. Hastings said, 10 years ago when the building was erected the listers assumed because of the service’s non-profit status the building was tax exempt and never included the building on their tax rolls. Hastings said this status was questioned during a valuation and review audit, and the vote was held to make this official for the next 10 years.
Also on the agenda for the meeting were two articles involving the practices of the “Capital Equipment Fund.” Voters approved the replacement of a 2000 backhoe, which is jointly owned by the town and village, in accordance with the Town’s approved Capital Budget Plan – the cost of financing would be paid from the highway reserve fund.
Hastings said since the Capital Equipment Fund was created in 2001 there has been some question about how it worked. He said the confusion arose over defining the term “disbursement” – whether that meant the amount spent from the fund or the total cost of the item. He said the original 2001 plan set a disbursement cap of $50,000, which has become a much smaller percentage of the overall cost of equipment over the past 10 years.
New wording was passed which allows the town to pay for equipment, identified through the capital budget and plan, through the newly established Highway Capital Equipment Fund. Hastings said money will be placed into the fund each year through an appropriation in the budget. He said this gives voters the opportunity to amend the line item at the annual Town Meeting.