2016 Ferrisburgh Town Meeting Preview

FERRISBURGH — When Ferrisburgh residents gather at Ferrisburgh Central School on Saturday at 10 a.m. for town meeting, they will decide whether to back or amend the selectboard’s $1,803,427 budget proposal, buy a pickup truck, and make the delinquent tax collector an appointed and salaried position.

Voting on March 1 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Route 7 town offices will allow residents to register their opinion on Addison Northwest Supervisory Union unification (see story, Page 1A) and school spending, and decide two races for town office — a three-way battle for delinquent tax collector featuring prominent current and former town officials for the next year, and a two-way contest to replace longtime town moderator Don Bicknell. Rep. Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh, will present Dr. Bicknell, who has been moderator for 20 years, a resolution from the General Assembly in recognition of his service.

Other races are uncontested.

The Ferrisburgh selectboard’s roughly $1.8 million town budget proposal would increase spending by about $46,000 and, including charitable contributions voted on by residents, total $1,834,267.

Residents are also being asked to approved $40,000 more, to be spread over four years, to buy a three-quarter ton pickup to be used mostly for plowing small areas.

If all municipal spending is approved, officials said the impact on the tax rate would be less than one penny.

Ferrisburgh Central School Board chairman Bill Clark and Paul Hoffman are both seeking to replace Bicknell.

And the job of delinquent tax collector has drawn three candidates. Vying for that post are incumbent Sally Torrey, a former longtime selectboard member; former longtime town clerk and delinquent tax collector Chet Hawkins, who lost his job to Torrey in a two-way race in 2015; and town treasurer Garrit Smits.

Officials said the winner will serve for one year if residents back the measure to make the post one that is filled by selectboard appointment. However, the measure to pay the delinquent tax collector a salary or an hourly wage rather than via fees or commissions would take effect immediately, town officials said.

Two incumbents will run unopposed for the selectboard, current chairman Steve Gutowski and former longtime chairwoman Loretta Lawrence.

Newcomer Katherine Yarbrough handed in paperwork for the FCS board, and VUHS board incumbent Kristina MacKulin, who was appointed to the board late in 2015, is seeking to fill that seat for the remainder of a three-year term.

Four candidates stepped forward to fill Ferrisburgh’s four seats on the proposed Addison Northwest Unified District Board that will be created if all five ANwSU towns back unification on Tuesday. They are current FCS director Laurie Gutowski; current Vergennes Union High School and FCS board member George Gardner; resident Finn Yarbrough, a newcomer to school board service; and MacKulin, also a member of the ANwSU unification study committee.

The FCS board adopted a $3,432,273 budget that cuts almost $155,000 from the school’s current spending level as board members worked hard to avoid a potential Act 46 spending threshold penalty.

The VUHS board adopted a $10,026,000 budget proposal for the 2016-2017 school year that represents a 2.23 percent cut from current spending.

Including also a separate $100,000 capital fund line item voters will weigh in on, VUHS spending would still be reduced by about $134,000, or 1.3 percent.

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