Hope residents approved all but one article at the annual town meeting June 20, voting to postpone a question to approve exceeding the property tax levy limit after voters chose to use $40,000 from undesignated fund balance to offset the tax impact.

About 40 people attended the meeting and it lasted a little more than two hours. In total, residents approved to raise and appropriate $438,205 for a total municipal budget of $836,455.

Bill Pearse Jr., vice chairman of the Budget Committee, made an amendment to add $40,000 from the undesignated fund balance account into the revenue stream to help reduce the tax burden. Pearse said the account currently has $640,750. If no money were moved, the tax increase would be 3.4 percent, or $.44 added to the mil rate. If the $40,000 were taken into consideration it would mean a 1.81 percent or $.23 increase to the mil rate.

Pearse said the Budget Committee suggested $40,000 because there has been no change in the mil rate for the last three years and that amount seemed adequate to help offset the tax rate and to keep things in line.

Selectman Barbara Bentley said there is a difference of opinion of how to pay for town office renovations. Selectmen feel that some of the renovations could be paid from undesignated fund balance, while others feel that the town should reduce the tax burden this year.

Pearse said the Budget Committee felt that $40,000 was in the “middle of the road” given the town does not yet know how much the renovations will cost or if the project will even be approved by voters.

Town officials are planning an open house and several meetings this summer and residents could be voting on the project in November.

Joe Berry proposed an amendment to place $10,500 back into the rental income line, which had been zeroed out for the coming year. The amount proposed was what was added to the account in years past and is for anticipated income for renting space in the town office building to School Union 69.

However, if the town moves forward with renovating the building, there will be no place for the superintendent’s office and it will need to be moved. School officials have yet to find a new location. Town officials said they did not want to anticipate receiving those funds if the district may vacate the space mid-school year.

Ultimately Berry’s amendment failed with a vote of 6 in favor and 31 against.

Under the municipal building expense line, which was proposed at $23,311, voters approved an amendment proposed by Barbara Bentley to add another $3,500 to that account from undesignated fund balance to fix a septic system line that runs under Route 105.

A considerable discussion took place under the professional services line about the town hiring an outside firm to help update the town’s land use ordinance.

Brian Powers said those updates have always been done in-house and he is concerned with people from outside of Hope, with no interest in the town, telling townspeople what is good for Hope.

Jill Lang said she has been on two different ordinance review committees, which have since disbanded, and the group always had a hard time coming to a consensus. She said she trusts that town boards will review the proposals and voters ultimately have the final say.

Tom Ford, who also has been involved with the committees in the past, said the ordinance updates are long overdue.

“The document is in serious need of repair,” Ford said.

Brian Powers Jr. made a motion to cut the capital reserve line by $10,000 for a total of $11,500. Powers Jr., a member of the Budget Committee, said the committee had been looking for places to cut and thought this would be a good place.

The account was mainly earmarked ($20,000) as fire truck replacement reserve. Fire Chief Clarence Keller opposed the move and said in the past the town used to put $30,000 in the account and then it was cut back to $20,000. He said it seems the fire department is always the place to take the cuts.

“We’ve already done our homework and made the cuts where we can to bring a responsible budget to the town of Hope,” Keller said.

The motion failed with a vote of 16-28.

Residents voted to set tax due dates for Sept. 30, 2011, and May 1, 2012, and to set the interest rate at 7 percent for unpaid taxes.