The city of Montpelier is asking citizens to take an online survey in order to give the administration and the City Council guidance as next year’s budget is prepared. The survey, which asks participants to rank the importance of various city services and to suggest where cuts might be made, can be found at montpelier-vt.civilspace.io/en/projects/fy25-budget. In a memo presented to the City Council on Oct. 25, Finance Director Sarah LaCroix said “[t]he FY25 budget development cycle is going to be more challenging than any budget in recent history.” She cited pressures stemming from the flood and inflation and said that “reappraisal appeal outcomes and flood-related abatements will reduce the tax revenue received in FY24 and by default, increase the tax rate for FY25 without any increase in municipal spending.” Lacroix told the Council she was “looking for guidance from Council on budgetary targets and expectations.” At that same meeting, the Council approved Lacroix’s suggestions for cutting expenses in the current FY24 budget in order to fill a $1.5 million hole largely caused by the flood. The plan includes department-wide reductions of $328,499, pausing the use of $250,000 earmarked for the Country Club Road project, repurposing $140,776 of previously committed funds, reducing the funding of the Capital Improvement Plan from $1,004,470 to $500,000, and repurposing $269,516 of remaining ARPA funds to cover revenue loss related to the flood. Lacroix cautioned that if the City is required to abate education taxes as well as municipal taxes for damaged properties, this could add $1.2 million to the city’s budget shortfall. “There are discussions in the legislature about a bill like the one passed after Irene to help offset the burden this will cause municipalities,” Lacroix wrote. “However, at this time there is minimal information available, and that relief is not yet in place.”A first draft of the FY25 budget will be presented to the City Council by city staff at its meeting on Dec. 13, with additional budget deliberations scheduled for Dec. 20. The City website says the public is encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas with the Council and staff at the meetings.