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Town Meeting Day previews for all Addison County towns

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Posted on March 1, 2012 |
By Christian Woodard



Town-Meeting.jpg
ROGER BOISE, A member of the New Haven selectboard, speaks during the school portion of town meeting 2011. Independent file photo/Trent Campbell

Town Meeting Day 2012 is right around the corner. Brush up on what's on tap for each Addison County town (and Brandon) in our town meeting previews.

Addison | Brandon | Bridport | BristolCornwall | Ferrisburgh | Goshen | Granville 
Hancock
 | Leicester | Lincoln | Middlebury | Monkton | New Haven | Orwell | Panton | Ripton
Salisbury
 | Shoreham | Starksboro | Vergennes | Waltham | Weybridge | Whiting


Addison

ADDISON — Addison residents will cast their ballots on town and school spending from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, at the town clerk’s office, a day after gathering to discuss town and school business in the Addison Central School gym at 7:30 p.m.

There are no contested races for office. Jeff Kauffman and Lisa Davis are running unopposed to return to the selectboard, as are Addison Central School directors Rob Hunt and Alison Martin.

Meanwhile, the Addison selectboard is proposing a spending plan, not including voter support for charities, of $999,553, including $357,967 for the general fund budget and $641,586 for road spending.

Including voter appropriations, that figure would rise to $1,024,563. Within that number there is some movement from the voter-approved charity items to the selectboard-produced budget, as $18,728 for the Bixby Library in Vergennes has gone from a voter contribution to a town appropriation.

Overall, residents are looking at approving an increase in spending: The charities-included spending figure for the current fiscal year stands at $980,596.

But selectmen said because of careful fiscal management, much of which they credit to road foreman Bryan Nolan and Town Clerk Jane Grace (who will retire in December), they are projecting a $75,000 carry-over at the end of the fiscal year.

That carry-over will more than offset the projected increase in spending of roughly $44,000, they said, and should allow selectmen to lower the town’s municipal tax rate slightly.

Much of that spending increase will also be a one-time hike, selectmen said: It represents money to train a second assistant clerk during the rest of Grace’s tenure, which she announced will conclude at the end of 2012.

According to Addison Northwest Supervisory Union estimates, there could also be lower school taxes in Addison.

The Vergennes Union High School board settled on an $8.97 million budget proposal. The plan would increase spending at VUHS by a little less than 2 percent — essentially back to the school’s 2007-2008 level — after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

On March 6 Addison residents will also weigh in on a proposed Addison Central School spending plan of roughly $1.68 million for the coming school year. The plan would cut about $28,400, or 1.66 percent, from the current budget, and eliminate a penalty Addison has been paying to the state for excess per-pupil spending.

ANwSU officials are thus projecting a several-cent drop in the town’s school tax rate if both the VUHS and ACS budgets are approved as proposed.

 

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Brandon

BRANDON — Brandon voters will decide at Monday’s town meeting whether to approve a proposed 2012-2013 spending plan that is practically level-funded, although if approved, the tax rate would rise by two cents.

That’s because revenues are down, not because of expenses incurred by damages from the Aug. 28 flood caused by Tropical Storm Irene. In fact, the proposed budget does not include any flood-related costs. Selectboard chair Richard Baker said that’s because it’s too soon to know what those numbers will be.

The proposed 2012-13 budget proposes $3,105,900 in total spending, with $2,247,050 to be raised by taxes. That’s an increase of roughly $5,000, or 0.098 percent, over the current spending plan, not including appropriations. If approved, the proposed budget would raise the residential homestead tax from $2.03 to $2.05.

The kicker is that non-tax revenues are down. Delinquent taxes are an issue, officials said. The more delinquent taxes there are, the more penalties and taxes the town can collect. Selectman Richard Baker said that since the March 2011 tax sale, there are fewer revenues due to more people paying on time and a more proactive collection system.

“Delinquencies are incredibly low right now,” he said. “A lot of people have been very diligent about paying their taxes and getting caught up.”

The town meeting and school meeting will be held back to back on Monday beginning at 7 p.m. at the Neshobe School.

At the annual school meeting, residents will consider a proposed 2012-2013 spending plan of $5,056,886, which represented an increase of $276,649, or 5.8 percent. Neshobe School Board Chair Devon Fuller said the last few years’ budgets have been “extremely responsible,” and this year’s is no exception. In addition to small increases in costs related to staff, Fuller said drivers of the increase were “costs that are out of our control like sewer, water, energy and health care.”

There is one race for a selectboard seat in Brandon this year: incumbent Kellie Martin, who’s been on the selectboard since 2005, faces challenger David Atherton.

Two people are vying for one, two-year term as a lister in Brandon. Lou Faivre was appointed to the position last year when Joyce Heath retired and must now run to be elected to another term. Maria Ammatuna has made it a race.

Australian ballot voting will be at Neshobe on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

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Bridport

BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting next Tuesday will decide four contested local elections along with several major equipment purchases.

Earl Audet and Shirley Giard are vying for a two-year term on the selectboard. Incumbent Selectman Leonard Barrett is running unopposed for another three-year term on the board.

Incumbent Bridport Central School Director Keith Grier faces a challenge from Suzanne Buck for a three-year term.

Incumbent Town Treasurer Jo Clawson faces opposition from Julie Howlett for a one-year term, while incumbent First Constable Robert Anderson is in a race with Rick Coursey for a one-year term.

Residents will be asked to OK expenditures of $60,000 for a loader, money that would be obtained up-front through a loan of up to three years; $13,000 for a new lawn mower; and $10,000 to restore the so-called “Hearse House” located next to the local Congregational Church.

The proposed 2012-2013 town/highway spending plan comes in at $1,018,533, which is down around $60,000 compared to this year’s spending plan of $1,078,178. Officials cited the retirement of some loans and good fiscal management as among reasons for the decrease.

Bridport Central School’s 2012-2013 spending plan is being proposed at $1,331,195, a 0.15-percent increase compared to the current budget of $1,329,218. But the town’s homestead education property tax rate is projected to increase by 5.23 percent, in part because Bridport’s common level of appraisal went down by 1.85 percent this year (to 99.81 percent).

The town is anticipating at least two fewer school-age children next fall, for a total of around 73.

Other articles on the warning seek $12,500 to help support the Bridport Fire Department; $8,000 for Town Line First Response; and a combined total of $16,715 for area human service agencies.

Town meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, in the Bridport Community/Masonic Hall. Australian ballot voting will take place on the same date and same location from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Bristol

BRISTOL — At town meeting in Holley Hall next Monday evening, Bristol residents will have a full slate of items to consider, including a proposed municipal spending increase of almost 6 percent.

Then in Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, will feature several races with at least one going wanting for candidates. Town Meeting Day will also see a vote on the proposed police budget, which traditionally has been decided in spring

In a town meeting that will begin at 7 p.m., Bristol voters will be asked to approve total municipal spending next year of $2,099,246, with $1,717,446 coming from property taxes. That’s a $96,647, or 5.96 percent, increase in the amount to be raised by taxes in the current fiscal year. The municipal budget encompasses the general operating fund, spending in the highway and recreation departments, and other appropriations.

Town Administrator Bill Bryant said over half of the proposed spending increase stems from three items:

•  A $37,180 bond payment for the 2010 storm-water project on North Street.

•  A $10,000 increase in the amount paid to a new auditor. Bryant explained that the town previously received below-market prices for this legally mandated service.

•  $5,000 for general election costs, such as printing ballots, programming voting machines and having extra staff on hand.

Without those line items, this year’s spending plan would reflect about a 2.7 percent increase, with increases across the board.

The proposed general fund budget reflects a 5.27 percent, or $25,310, increase in the amount raised by taxes, and the highway budget features a 7.17 percent, or $45,123, increase in the amount raised by taxes.

The proposed recreation department budget features a 19.85 percent, or $24,527, increase in the amount raised by taxes. Bryant said this increase reflects a shift of $7,200 for The Hub teen center’s rent — taking it out of the Bristol Recreation Club appropriation and putting it into the recreation department budget. Additionally, two town employees who are eligible for town health insurance are signing up for it.

Bristol voters will also be asked to approve a $4,559,439 Bristol Elementary School spending plan for next year, up $190,285, or 4.4 percent, from this year. If the school budget is OK’d, Bristol homeowners would see an increase of $96,554, or 2.63 percent, in what needs to be raised by taxes, and the elementary portion of the education tax rate in Bristol would be expected to drop 2 cents due to the ratio of local students in elementary school vs. high school.

Polls will be open in Holley Hall from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 6, Town Meeting Day.

In Tuesday’s Town Meeting Day balloting, selectboard chair Joel Bouvier is running uncontested for his second three-year term. Incumbent selectboard member Sharon Compagna — who has been on the board since 2007 — will face competition from Bristol native Tim Heffernan for a two-year term on the selectboard.

There’s also a four-way race for two one-year seats on the Bristol Elementary School board. Newcomers Moira E. Garrity, Chris Scrodin and Sheryl Thurber will vie with incumbent Karl Ginalski for this position. Incumbents school board members Elin Melchior and Kelly Laliberte are running uncontested.

No one filed papers to run for two open Bristol seats on the Mount Abraham Union High School board.

Town Clerk and Treasurer Therese Kirby is uncontested in her bid for re-election.

Police district residents will also have an opportunity to weigh in on the new police budget for next fiscal year before putting it to a vote on Tuesday, March 6. The 2012-2013 spending plan of $343,728 calls for a $303,628, or 3.2 percent, increase in the amount raised from taxes.

On Tuesday, voters will also be asked to approve a bond not to exceed $300,000 for upcoming construction on the South Street Bridge.

Other notable line items voters will weigh in on are:

•  $115,000 to be allocated from the town’s capital equipment reserve fund for a new dump truck.

•  $117,611 for the Lawrence Memorial Library’s annual operating budget, which represents a 3.2 percent spending increase from last year.

Voters will also consider the proposed Mount Abraham Union High School spending plan that would level-fund education spending for next fiscal year. Under the proposal, overall expenses would increase 0.7 percent to $13,542,142, but education spending — the part of the budget that directly affects tax rates — would remain the same as this year at $11,309,068. Additionally, the per pupil spending rate would increase 4.1 percent next year to $13,552.

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Cornwall

CORNWALL — At their town meeting next week, Cornwall residents will once again be asked to decide the fate of the historic Lavalley Store building located adjacent to the town offices.

The town-owned building is in need of major repairs if it is to be put back into service as a store or, as some have suggested, annex into the municipal offices. Residents last year voted 73-53, by paper ballot, to table a motion to spend $15,000 to demolish, remove and recycle the structure.

This year’s warning features a proposal that the town sell the Lavalley store building, with the proviso that it be removed from the site within six months. If there are no buyers, the board has asked for permission to spend up to $25,000 to dismantle the building, recycle as much of the material as possible, and clean up the site.

Cornwall officials are proposing a 2012-2013 general fund budget that features spending of $353,201, up almost $20,000 from the $334,660 last year.

The highway budget request comes in at $361,635, of which $301,635 would be raised by local taxes. Voters endorsed spending $345,735 on highways last year.

The Bingham Memorial School budget is being pitched at $1,337,935 next year, an increase of 2.9 percent compared to this year. The homestead education property tax rate is being estimated at $1.535 per $100 in property value, which would be a 1.4 percent bump compared to the current rate of $1.514 per $100.

Other articles on the Cornwall town meeting warning include requests that:

•  $100,000 in town funds be used to help renovate or rebuild the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department station at 63 North Bingham St.

•  Ownership of town-owned property at 63 North Bingham St. be transferred to the fire department.

•  The Mary Baker Allen Chapter DAR House be kept tax-exempt for another five years.

•  Voters approve library support to the tune of $3,000 and bankroll the fire department to the tune of $59,700.

•  Voters endorse spending a combined total of $20,610 for various local and county-wide human service agencies.

The lone election race on the ballot features Luke Jerome, Abi Sessions and Sean Stearns competing for a one-year term on the Cornwall selectboard. The one year represents the balance of a term vacated by former Selectwoman Nancy Kemp.

Incumbent selectboard members Bruce Hiland and Judy Watts are unopposed for terms of three years and two years, respectively.

Maureen Deppman is running unopposed for a three-year term on the Bingham Memorial School board. John Eagan is mounting a write-in campaign for a two-year vacancy on the school board, according to Town Clerk Sue Johnson.

Cornwall’s town meeting will be held on Monday, March 5, at 6:30 p.m. in the Bingham school. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Cornwall Town Hall. 

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Ferrisburgh

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh residents will have a Town Meeting Day choice on how to fill one selectboard seat when they cast ballots at Ferrisburgh Central School from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Although longtime incumbent John DeVos is running unopposed for a two-year term, another incumbent, Kieran Kilbride, is being challenged by political newcomer James Benoit for a three-year term.

Kilbride, who stepped down from the town’s planning commission to join the selectboard, will be facing his first election after being appointed to the selectboard in 2011 when Bob Jenkins stepped down.

Benoit, said Town Clerk Chet Hawkins, is a lifelong Ferrisburgh resident who works as a contractor.

There will also be a race for the Ferrisburgh Central School board. Katie Boyle and Bill Clark are both seeking a one-year term. Clark is the incumbent after being appointed to fill a vacancy in 2011.

Incumbent FCS director Kurt Haigis has filed for a three-year term to represent the town on the Vergennes Union High School board; Rick Kerschner had held that seat, but did not file again.

According to town officials, no one filed for two vacancies on the FCS board. Haigis did not refile for a three-year term on that board, nor did Tim Bicknell for a two-year term.

Ferrisburgh residents will also make decisions from the floor of town meeting on Tuesday, March 6, beginning at 10 a.m. at the central school. 

They will be asked to support the town becoming a Property-Assessed Clean Energy district (PACE), which according to selectboard minutes “would enable property owners to do energy improvements to their property” at a low upfront cost in exchange for “an assessment on their property tax bill that would be paid back quarterly to the town.” A tax lien would be placed on the property to protect the town’s interests.

In spending issues, the Ferrisburgh selectboard approved a roughly $1.619 million town budget proposal, and on Town Meeting Day Ferrisburgh voters will have the option of adding up to $89,000 to that bottom line.

The selectboard’s spending proposal does not include about $29,000 of charitable donations that Ferrisburgh residents typically back in March and two articles that would create capital funds: $30,000 for the town’s fire department toward an eventual truck purchase, and $30,000 for the public works department for future major purchases and potential emergencies. 

If voters support those proposals, the town’s overall spending, including charitable donations, would increase from about $1.631 million in the current year to $1.708 million next year. New spending includes money for a used one-ton truck for the road department, and more for paving.

That proposed $77,000 spending increase would represent about a 4.7 percent hike. Because a penny on the Ferrisburgh tax rate raises about $45,000, the municipal rate could go up by about 1.7 cents.

Addison Northwest Supervisory Union officials are optimistic there will be little or no increase to the town’s school tax rate despite proposals for modest school spending hikes.

The Ferrisburgh Central School board has proposed a roughly $3.1 million budget that would increase spending by about 2.8 percent and essentially maintain the status quo at the school. Almost all of the roughly $84,000 increase is in salaries and health benefits for teachers, special educators, staff and administrators.

The Vergennes Union High School board in January settled on an $8.97 million budget proposal. The plan would increase spending at VUHS by a little less than 2 percent — essentially back to the school’s 2007-2008 level — after years of either little or no increase or slight decreases.

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Goshen

GOSHEN — Next Monday, March 5, Goshen residents will discuss the proposed town spending for the next fiscal year and several open town positions at their annual town meeting, held at the Goshen Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. and preceded by a potluck. Voting by Australian ballot will begin at 9 a.m. the following day and continue until 7 p.m.

The selectboard has proposed a $315,316 spending plan for fiscal year 2013. This represents a 28.6 percent increase from last year’s approved budget of $245,180.  

“It’s quite a bit higher,” said Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon. “Partly that’s because we purchased a new plow truck and a grader last year. Equipment costs are a big part of that.”

The town paid for these purchases partly through timber sales in the municipal forest, though the elevated budget is intended to cover some of last year’s purchases.

Since Goshen has no school, the town tuitions its students to schools in other towns, with most students attending Neshobe Elementary in Forestdale. High School students attend Otter Valley Union High School. Brandon residents will vote on the proposed Neshobe School spending plan, with represents a 5.8 percent spending increase, at their annual school meeting Monday evening.

The Otter Valley Union High School board proposed a $10,332,550 spending plan for 2012-13. That represents an increase of $233,918 or 2.32 percent over the current spending plan. Residents in towns served by OVUHS vote on the spending proposal by Australian ballot on Tuesday.

Because tuition varies year-to-year based on how many students are enrolled, Goshen sees shifting school tax rates. Though final numbers aren’t in from the state, spending is expected to increase.

There are contested races for three town positions in Goshen. In a Goshen selectboard race will see incumbent Kathy Mathis faced off against Kevin O’Classen, who has previously served as town and school meeting moderator. Though currently vacant, the position of second constable will see two people vying for the job: Bruce Webster and Edward Hayes.

Jeanne Meyer will run for trustee of public funds against J. Douglas Graham, who served this past term as a justice of the peace. 

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Granville

GRANVILLE — At their annual town meeting next Tuesday evening, Granville residents will vote on a town budget, discuss several points of road spending, elect town officers and finalize a school budget.

The proposed town spending plan of $288,679 represents a 4 percent hike over the $277,616 spending plan OK’d last year. According to Town Clerk Kathy Werner, payment for last year’s work on the town offices and town hall drove the proposed increase in spending. Last year the town used $14,000 in USDA bonds to finance the work.

Granville voters will also decide whether to make a $13,000 appropriation for the Highway Capital Investment Fund for the purchase of gravel, and an additional $5,000 for upkeep on the municipal complex. A third appropriation up for a vote would authorize giving $1,000 for the Rochester Public Library.

Granville closed its 158-year-old, one-room schoolhouse in 2009, and currently tuitions its students to nearby schools. The town is part of the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union. The proposed 2012-2013 school spending plan, to be approved at the annual school meeting Tuesday night, is $572,861, which represents a decrease of 19.4 percent from last year’s school budget of $684,194.

Despite a drop in spending, the 2012-2013 estimated school tax rate would risen. While last year’s residential tax rate was 87.75 cents, this year it is expected to jump to $1.1979 — an increase of 36.5 percent.

Though residential tax rates are projected to go up, Granville School Board member Bruce Hyde said the increase from the town report might be an overstatement.

“The tax rate is up, though not as much as in the town report,” he said. “It will be explained on Tuesday.”

Werner attributes this discrepancy to rising tuition at the Rochester Elementary School, where many Granville students attend. Hyde agreed.

“The tuition rate at Rochester took a major jump to over $15,000, and we have to make an adjustment for the prior year’s tuition as they raised that also,” he said.

Town meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Granville Town Hall. All town officers will be selected from the floor.

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Hancock

HANCOCK — Residents of Hancock will meet Tuesday morning to elect town officers, discuss appropriations for community projects, and finalize the town and school budgets.

Hancock town officers will be nominated and elected from the floor of the annual town and school meetings.

The town meeting will be held at the Hancock Town Hall on March 6, beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing until business is concluded. The school meeting will be held immediately after the conclusion of town meeting.

Hancock’s proposed town spending plan for 2012-2013 is $338,653, an increase of 9.8 percent over the $308,408 spending plan approved last year.

Among smaller appropriations, Hancock residents will vote on $36,825 for the Valley Rescue Squad and $2,323 for the Quin-Town Senior Center.

Two separate articles propose spending related to last fall’s flooding. The town will vote on whether to use $25,000 to armor the cemetery banks, and whether to repair the Upper Churchville Road as proposed by Phelps Engineering, or to close it.

If Hancock chooses to close the road, it can use Federal Emergency Management Agency aid money toward other town projects.

“The road’s always been there,” said Town Clerk Cathy Curtis. “I think it would be pretty devastating for people who live up that way, even though there’s another road open.”

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Leicester

LEICESTER — Registered voters will gather at the Leicester Meeting House on March 5 at 7 p.m. to discuss the town and school budgets for fiscal year 2012-2013 and the election of new town officers.

Proposed town spending for the upcoming year is $501,290, which represents an increase of 8.4 percent over the 2011-2012 spending plan of 462,254.

The municipal spending proposal is split nearly evenly between general town expenses and highway expenses. General fund spending is pegged at $235,790, of which $179,136 would be covered by taxes. The road budget proposal, at $265,500, would see $201,721 covered by taxes.

“The selectboard tried to be as fiscally responsible as possible,” said selectboard Chair Diane Benware. “But, we did recommend putting $20,000 into the equipment fund and another $20,000 toward paving. We’re hoping to use this in a state paving grant. If we don’t get the grant, then we’ll still have $40,000 to put toward road work.”

Benware also said $6,000 in repairs to Old Jerusalem Road following Tropical Storm Irene were rolled into the proposed 2012-2013 budget.

“We just got the 75 percent federal coverage on Monday, but we can’t claim it until next year,” she said.

Town officer positions are all uncontested, and will be decided by Australian ballot on March 6 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Leicester town office.

Leicester is part of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union, and The proposed Leicester Town School District budget is $1,060,658, a 4.6 percent increase over last year’s budget.

Town residents next week will vote on a 2012-2013 spending plan of $1,060,658; that represents an increase of $46,816, or 4.6 percent, over the current year’s spending plan of $1,013,842.

Compared with Leicester’s $1,040,086 spending proposal for 2010-2011, the proposed spending for next year represents an increase of only about 2 percent. While final property tax rates will likely not be finalized until July, the Leicester Central School tax rate (before the state’s Common Level of Appraisal calculation is figured in) would, if the budget is approved as is, tentatively rise from $1.34 to $1.37 per $100 of property assessment.

The school budget will be presented at town meeting and decided by Australian ballot during the March 6 voting hours. 

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Lincoln

LINCOLN — Lincoln’s annual town meeting next week will feature a three-way race for the one-year term of town treasurer, the only contested election in Lincoln this year. Current Town Auditor Shawn Richards, Town Lister Lisa Truchon and resident Linda Daybell will vie for the vacancy that will be left by Larry Masterson, who is retiring after 15 years of service as treasurer.

On March 5, at 6 p.m. in Burnham Hall, voters will be asked to approve 2012-2013 general fund expenditures for of $650,369, down $73,845, or 11.4 percent, from the current fiscal year. Of that amount, $341,079 would be requested from taxpayers, which is down $104,470, or 23.4 percent, from last year.

Highway fund expenditures are proposed to go up to $713,869, which represents a $29,200, or 4.3 percent, increase from this year. Of that amount, the town is requesting $567,663 from taxpayers, which is up $39,100, or 7.4 percent, from this year.

Voters will also decide whether to accept a  proposed 2012-2013 Lincoln Community School spending plan of $1,812,638, up $79,095, or 4.6 percent, from this year. Lincoln’s education spending is proposed to drop 1.1 percent, or $18,241, which would lead to a dip in the tax rate of about 1.5 cents.

Among other items, Lincoln voters will also decide whether to:

•  Allocate up to $195,000 from the town’s capital equipment fund for a new dump truck with plow, wing and sander.

•  Provide $36,500 to support the Lincoln Library.

•  Appropriate $55,896 to the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company.

•  Allocate $15,920 to local social agencies.

In Australian balloting on Tuesday, voters will also consider the proposed Mount Abraham Union High School spending plan that would level-fund education spending for next fiscal year. Under the proposal, overall expenses would increase 0.7 percent to $13,542,142, but education spending — the part of the budget that directly affects tax rates — would remain the same as this year at $11,309,068. 

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Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents will have a busy annual meeting and Town Meeting Day this year, as they will be asked to approve a $4.625 million bond to upgrade the local fire stations, establish a new fund to attract and retain local jobs and decide a hotly contested race for two seats on the selectboard.

Middlebury voters will also be asked to share in the costs of a $1 million bond to replace the Middlebury Union Middle School roof and support a proposed 2012-2013 UD-3 school budget of $16,104,423.

The $4.65 million bond issue would enable the fire department to renovate and expand its Seymour Street headquarters and replace its East Middlebury station with a smaller and more energy efficient structure.

The so-called “Middlebury Business Development Fund” is being proposed to help local companies grow and help attract other enterprises considering Addison County’s shire town as a home. Organizers are pitching an annual budget of $180,000, to be divided amongst Middlebury College ($72,000), a penny on Middlebury’s tax rate ($72,000) and the business community ($36,000).

Voting on the Mary Hogan Elementary School budget will take place, as usual, in April.

Five candidates are vying for two three-year terms on the Middlebury selectboard. The candidates are incumbent selectboard members Victor Nuovo and Susan Shashok, along with former Selectman Don Keeler, Eric Murray and Brian Bauer. Murray and Bauer have previously run for the board.

The ballot also features a race between Rebekah Irwin and David Weinstock for a five-year term on the Ilsley Library Board of Trustees.

Middlebury residents will join the other Addison Central Supervisory Union towns of Bridport, Cornwall, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge in voting on a $1 million bond issue aimed at replacing MUMS’s current, failing asphalt shingle roof with a standing seam metal room. The budget will also provide for some energy efficiency upgrades in the building.

Residents will field a 2012-2013 municipal budget of $8,420,920, of which $5,819,322 is to be raised by taxes. The budget — which maintains current services and staffing — represents a 1.7-percent increase in spending that the selectboard has offset by applying $83,185 in fund balance.

Other items on Middlebury’s town meeting agenda include:

•  A proposal to borrow up to $251,000 over five years to replace a police cruiser, a tandem plow truck and related equipment and a stake bed truck.

•  A plan to designate the town of Middlebury as a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) district to make it easier for participating property owners to obtain financing for energy efficiency improvements (see related story, Page 1A).

•  A proposal to extend property tax exemption to the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association for five years.

Running unopposed in local elections are Gary Baker, one year, selectboard; Matt Landis, three years, Mary Hogan Elementary School board; Mark Perrin, Robert Ritter and Lucy Schumer, all three years, UD-3 school board; and James Douglas, one year, town moderator.

Middlebury town meeting will be held on Monday, March 5, at 7 p.m. in the municipal gym. Australian ballot voting will take place the following day in the same location, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A story that looks into more detail at many of the Middlebury town meeting issues appears here.

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Monkton

MONKTON — Monkton residents will gather at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, in the Monkton Central School gymnasium to weigh in on a general government budget that would require a 15-percent increase in tax funds. Throughout Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the polls will be open in the Monkton gymnasium for registered voters to cast ballots on a two-way selectboard race and a $1.5 million municipal building.

Town Meeting Day will feature a race for a three-year term for selectboard. John McNerny will challenge incumbent Selectman Terry Cunningham.

Monkton budget proposals are up across the board this year. According to Treasurer Chuck Roumas, the town had a $100,000 surplus in 2010, which kept taxes down last year. This year, however, the town will ask for more funding from taxes.

Proposed general fund spending of $354,818 for fiscal year 2012-2013 is up $32,314.51, or 10 percent, from this year. Of that amount $126,304.61 will be requested of taxpayers, which represents a hike of $16,632.29, or 15 percent.

Proposed highway spending for next year is $721,495, up $2,238.42, or 0.3 percent, from this year. To fund this, selectmen are requesting $527,447 from taxpayers, which represents a $44,495.06, or 7.8 percent, decrease.

Monkton Central School spending for 2012-2013 is proposed at $2,521,277. This represents an increase of $192,275, or 8.2 percent, from this year. Education spending would increase $89,537, or 4.32 percent. If the budget passes as proposed the tax rate is projected to rise about one-tenth of a cent.

On Town Meeting Day, voters will also be asked:

•  To approve — via Australian ballot — the relocation of the town’s 152-year-old town hall from its current spot on Monkton Ridge to town-owned land up the street, next to Monkton Friends Church, overlooking Monkton Pond. The town would then like to borrow up to $1.5 million in bonds for a 2,880-square-foot addition to the town hall that would feature an upper level for government offices and a lower level for a larger town library.

•  To approve an expenditure of up to $225,000 to replace a culvert on Monkton-Vergennes Road.

•  To establish a town-wide Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, district to provide low-interest loans to homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements (see related story, Page 1A).

•  To approve up to $190,000 for a new town tandem truck and plow set.

•  To instruct the selectboard to urge Vermont’s state and federal lawmakers to propose a U.S. constitutional amendment that states: “Money is not speech and that corporations … are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”

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New Haven

NEW HAVEN — New Haven residents look like they’ll have a short and sweet town meeting next week with discussions of budget proposals expected to be the highlight. They’ll gather in the New Haven Town Hall at 4 p.m. on Monday and then make big decisions on Tuesday via Australian ballot, deciding whether to approve a much higher Beeman Elementary School spending plan and a town budget that reflects lower general fund expenditures and higher road expenditures.

There are no contested town elections for town office on the ballot.

The biggest fiscal item on the ballot is a proposed 2012-2013 Beeman Elementary School spending plan of $1,820,499, up $106,486, or 6.2 percent, from the current year. But Beeman’s education spending is proposed to go down 0.78 percent, which would drop tax rates about half a cent.

In town budgets, proposed general fund spending for New Haven would drop 1.4 percent to $653,270. Of that amount,  $380,221 would be raised by taxes, which is a $7,619, or 2 percent, decrease from last year. Road fund expenditures, however, would under the proposal go up 18.4 percent to $1,070,640. Of that amount, $759,842 would be raised from taxes, which marks a $138,493.09, or 22.3 percent increase.

Voters will also notice in the spreadsheet of town expenditures in the town report $855,467 under actual general fund expenditures from 2011, which is $192,652.89 more than the $662,815 voters approved last year. New Haven selectboard chair Kathleen Barrett explained that discrepancy is mainly due to $163,000 taken out of the firetruck fund to purchase a new town firetruck.

“It’s money that we had set aside for that purpose,” she said.

Voters will also decide whether they should have the right to vote on zoning bylaws. State law doesn’t require citizen participation for passing new zoning bylaws for a town of New Haven’s size. But since a petition was filed requesting this right, the people will decide whether they or just the selectboard should approve zoning bylaws in the future.

The other big-ticket item on the warning is Article 8, which is a request to spend up to $69,000 from the road equipment fund for a new plow truck.

Although there are no contested elections at Town Meeting Day, Barrett hopes people will run for a three-year position on the Beeman schoolboard and one-year posts as town moderator and as a town lister, open offices that won’t have candidates on the ballot. Lanny Smith, who has been town moderator for more than a decade, said he missed the deadline to file a petition to run for moderator because he was out of town; but he’d be happy if New Haven residents wrote his name in for the position.

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Orwell

ORWELL — Town residents will gather at the Orwell Town Hall Monday evening for the annual school meeting and reconvene for the annual town meeting on Tuesday morning to elect town officials and vote on this year’s town spending plans.

The annual school meeting will be held on March 5 at 7 p.m. Residents will consider a proposed 2012-13 elementary school spending plan that represents a 5.47 percent increase over the current year’s spending. According to Laura Jakubowski, Addison Rutland Supervisory Union business manager, the proposed spending of $1,661,585 is an increase over the current year’s $1,575,395 budgeted spending.

A separate building repair would also add $50,100 onto the budget for performing weatherproofing and energy efficiency work on one portion of the Orwell Village School building. If OK’d by voters, this  would bring the total spending increase to 8.6 percent.

John Tester has challenged incumbent Judy Fyles for a spot on the school board.

The annual town meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on March 6, and voting by Australian ballot will continue until 7 p.m. that evening.

Two seats on the selectboard are up for election — a two-year seat and a three-year seat. Plus the positions of town clerk, treasurer, lister and auditor will also be on the ballot. No elections are contested. Paula Barnes and Ronald Huntley will run for the selectboard positions.

“There’s nothing major, and I expect it will be a fairly easy meeting,” said selectboard chairman Roland Simmons. “There’s one initiative to start researching a senior living center here. We’re proposing $10,000 to get the project started. Just to get people thinking about it.”

The main item of business at town meeting will be this year’s proposed municipal spending plan of $1,098,865, which is an increase of 15.3 percent from last year’s budgeted spending of $952,952. Last year’s budget included $128,316 in legal fees, following a number of lawsuits concerning town zoning ordinances. The town took out a three-year loan to pay those legal expenses, and this year’s budget will also pay back some of that loan.

According to Simmons, spending for the firehouse, a new town truck, a sander body for the tandem axle truck, and the legal fees account for the nearly $100,000 increase.

Town Clerk Susan Anne Arnebold said this proposed increase is “mostly because we’re waiting for money that didn’t flow last year.”

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Panton

PANTON — Panton residents will vote Tuesday at Panton Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on school budgets, and gather there at 10 a.m. to decide on town officers and spending.

There will be two openings on the Panton selectboard: Selectwoman Beth Tarallo’s term expires on Town Meeting Day, and Selectman Eric Carter recently announced he would be stepping down from the board.

Also, the terms of new Panton Town Clerk Jean Miller and treasurer M’Lissa Dayton expire on Tuesday.

Tarallo and Miller have said they would like to be nominated to retain their positions.

Miller, the former assistant clerk, was the selectboard’s pick to replace longtime clerk Sue Torrey, who moved to Florida this winter.

Although the numbers have been moved around within the town budget, there is little change overall.

If Panton residents back all the financial measures on Town Meeting Day, town spending will add up to $645,692, according to Dayton. That would translate to about a 0.76 percent increase over the figure approved last year.

There are some changes within the numbers. Money for the Bixby Library is no longer a voter-approved charitable contribution, but is in the town budget. Dayton said that added $9,248 to the general fund bottom line while making the amount for contributions appear smaller.

Also up for residents’ consideration will be four funds, included in the bottom line above:

•  $15,000 for town hall restoration, a new fund this year.

•  $20,000 for the Highway Capital Equipment Fund, a $5,000 increase from 2011.

•  $2,000 each for tires for the town’s grader and for records digitization, the same numbers as in 2011.

To be decided by Australian ballot will be the Vergennes Union high and elementary school budgets.

The VUHS board settled on an $8.97 million budget proposal to put before Addison Northwest Supervisory Union voters. The plan would increase spending at VUHS by a little less than 2 percent — essentially back to the school’s 2007-2008 level — after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

The VUES board opted to put before voters a $3.91 million budget plan that would increase current spending by $20,500, or 0.5 percent.

Panton, like Vergennes and Waltham, also will consider a $100,000 bond that would pay for improvements to the VUES roof. The first payment on the seven-year bond would be in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

ANwSU officials are cautiously optimistic that combined VUHS and VUES spending would lead to little or no school tax hikes in the three VUES towns if both are approved on March 6.

ANwSU’s early estimate called for a decrease of about a half-cent in Panton if both union school budgets pass. With only the tiny increase in town spending, the overall tax rate could drop by a fraction of a cent.

But Dayton also noted that while taxes might go down slightly or be stable, the tax rate might not be directly comparable: Panton is undergoing a town-wide real estate reappraisal, and a new grand list will be used to calculate the town’s tax rate.

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Ripton

RIPTON — Ripton residents at their town meeting will be asked to support a 2012-2013 elementary school budget of $775,360, representing a 5.4-percent increase in spending, though the town’s education property tax rate is expected to drop by 17.2 percent.

The proposed budget allows the Ripton school to maintain current services — including a popular after-school program — and cover costs of a new Spanish language offering.

The budget reflects an estimated homestead education property tax rate of $1.584 per $100 in property value in Ripton. That would represent a 17.2-percent decrease in the current rate of $1.914 per $100, in large part due to an increase of 24 percent in Ripton’s common level of appraisal (CLA), to a total of 96 percent. The town recent conducted a reappraisal of townwide properties.

The CLA is a town’s ratio of actual real estate market value compared to its assessed grand list value, as determined by the state’s analysis of property sales in the town. If a CLA increases, it has the effect of lowering a tax rate.

Ripton is anticipating a drop of around two children (for a total of 40) in its school-age population next year.

Also at town meeting, residents will be asked to support a proposed highway spending plan of $353,350 (down from $386,550) and a general fund spending plan of $270,711 (down from $285,241).

Other articles on the town meeting warning seek:

•  $31,600 to help subsidize the Ripton Fire Department and Ripton First Response.

•  A property tax abatement for the Silver Towers Camp owned and operated by the Vermont Elks Association. The request is for the taxes at 33 percent of what would be due.

•  Permission to designate Ripton as a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) district to enable participating property owners to access funding for eligible energy efficiency and renewable energy projects (See story, Page 1A).

•  A vote on a resolution urging the Vermont Congressional delegation and U.S. Congress to propose a constitutional amendment for the states’ consideration stating that “money is not speech” and that “corporations are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”

•  Approval of a combined total of $14,331 for various social service agencies.

The lone contested race in Ripton will involve Chris Lacey and Laura McIntosh, who are running for the remaining two years of a term vacated by incumbent Ripton Elementary School board member Connie Trudeau.

Incumbent Selectman Ron Wimett faces no competition in his bid for another three-year term.

Ripton town meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 5, at the Ripton Community House. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Ripton town offices.

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Salisbury

SALISBURY — Salisbury residents at their town meeting Monday evening will decide whether to vote on future elementary school budgets by Australian ballot and whether future expenditures of local landfill-related money will require a townwide referendum.

Salisbury is one of a dwindling number of Addison County communities that still votes on its elementary school budget from the town meeting floor. That would change — beginning next year — if a majority of voters approve the switch to Australian ballots at the March 5 annual meeting.

Meanwhile, article 11 on the town meeting warning asks, “Shall the voters agree that any landfill funds used for town purposes other than general landfill maintenance and operations must require a townwide vote.” The selectboard currently has oversight of those funds. A petitioner gathered enough signatures to place article 11 on the warning, with the intent of ensuring that such funds be banked and spent (with voter approval) on major town expenses that might crop up in the future. For example, the town used landfill funds several years ago to upgrade the Salisbury school.

The town selectboard is proposing a 2012-2013 general fund spending plan of $177,661, down slightly from the $178,832 approved for the current year. The highway spending plan comes in at $405,972, up more than $40,000 compared to this year’s budget of $363,144. Officials said the increase is largely due to a commitment to more road paving this year.

The election ballot in Salisbury will feature one race. Benjamin Fuller is challenging incumbent Selectwoman Martha Sullivan for a three-year term on the board.

In uncontested races, John Rouse is running for a two-year term on the Salisbury selectboard; Christine McKeever-Parkes and John Nuceder are seeking terms of three and one years, respectively, on the Salisbury Community School board; and Ann Dittami is seeking another three years as town clerk and treasurer.

A two-year seat on the elementary board has no takers and therefore is available through a write-in campaign.

At Monday’s meeting, voters in Salisbury will consider a 2012-2013 elementary school spending plan of $1,447,319, up 1 percent compared to the current budget of $1,432,834.

Thanks in part to an 8.6-percent bump in the Common Level of Appraisal (to 85.5 percent), Salisbury’s homestead education property tax rate is expected to decline by 3.8 percent to $1.763 per $100 in property value.

Salisbury is predicting a five-student drop in its school enrollment next year, for a total of 84.

Also on the town meeting warning: A proposal to spend up to $10,000 to hire an architect to determine how much money it would cost to bring the town hall building up to “appropriate building and fire codes.”

Town meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 5, in the Salisbury Community School. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the town office.

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Shoreham

SHOREHAM — Shoreham residents on Town Meeting Day will be asked to approve spending $450,000 for a new municipal office building on the town commons.

The selectboard will be asking townspeople to use $290,000 that has accrued in the “new town office reserve fund” and add another $160,000 to float through a five-year loan. This money would be used to erect an approximately 2,000-square-foot building on town-owned land west (near School Street) of the current municipal offices.

If voters give the green light, the selectboard would like to begin the project this year.

Officials are proposing a 2012-2013 highway spending plan of $573,841, up from the $556,530 approved for the current year. The board is pitching a general fund spending plan of $240,257, up from this year’s budget of $233,756.

School directors are proposing an elementary school budget of $1,426,401, which represents a 3.1-percent spending hike compared to this year. But the homestead education property tax rate is pegged to decrease by 4.65 percent to $1.516 per $100 in property value. The main reason: Shoreham’s Common Level of Appraisal has increased by 9 percent this year to a total of 102 percent.

This year’s ballot will feature a three-way race for two one-year terms on the selectboard. The candidates are incumbent Selectmen Paul Saenger and Sandy Witherell Jr., as well as resident Mark Spitzner.

Incumbent Selectwoman Karen Shackett is unopposed for a three-year term on the board.

Voters will also be asked to support requests:

•  For $4,500 for fireworks for the Shoreham Festival.

•  To allow the selectboard to sell five town-owned swamp lots, totaling around 25.22 acres, at auction.

•  To place $6,500 of the general fund balance into the fire and rescue reserve fund; $20,000 of the fund balance into the highway equipment fund; and $5,000 into the reappraisal reserve fund.

In uncontested elections, Andrea Hubbell and Natalie Causton are seeking terms of three years and two years, respectively, on the local school board, while Benjamin Cadoret is looking to fill out a vacated term that expires in March of 2013. Erik Remsen is seeking a three-year term on the UD-3 school board.

Town meeting will be held on Monday, March 5, at 6 p.m. in the elementary school auditorium. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Shoreham Firehouse.

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Starksboro

STARKSBORO — Starksboro residents will gather in the Robinson Elementary School multipurpose room on Saturday, March 3, at 9 a.m. to decide fairly routine town meeting issues and vote on a proposed town spending plan that is lower than the current year. Then, on Tuesday, March 6, Town Meeting Day, the Starksboro polls will open in Robinson at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Proposed town 2012-2013 spending for roads and the general fund is $688,951, which represents a decrease of $71,319, or 9.4 percent, from the current year. But the amount to be raised by taxes in the proposal would rise slightly to $497,401, which represents an increase of $1,231, or 0.2 percent.

Among notable line items at town meeting, voters will also be asked to:

•        Authorize the town to borrow $100,000 for a new utility truck to replace the town’s current 1984 model. The money would be paid out of the fire equipment reserve fund within five years.

•  Appropriate $29,118 to the fire equipment reserve fund.

• Allocate $82,085 to the road equipment reserve fund.

•  Vote $11,160, or one-fifth of the purchase price of the town’s six solar collectors, to put into a fund in the event voters decide to buy the solar trackers for town use when the lease on them runs out in 2015. Last year voters approved this line item.

• Instruct the selectboard to urge Vermont’s state and federal lawmakers to propose a U.S. constitutional amendment, which states: “money is not speech and that corporations … are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”

The proposed Robinson school spending plan for the coming fiscal year of $2,492,138 represents a hike of $159,462, or 6.4 percent. Robinson’s proposed education spending is up 5.49 percent, or $109,533, and the town would see a tax-rate increase of about 4 cents if this new budget is passed.

There are no contested elections this year in Starksboro, but a number of local officials are up for reelection, all for three-year terms. Among those are:

• Selectboard Chair Susan Jefferies.

• Town Clerk Cheryl Estey.

• Town Treasurer Celine Coon.

• Robinson School director Bonita Bedard. 

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Vergennes

VERGENNES — On March 6 Vergennes residents could choose to replace half the members of the city council.

Three multi-term incumbents all filed for re-election — David Austin, Lowell Bertrand and Clara “Ziggy” Comeau.

And just as many challengers also will appear on the Town Meeting Day ballot, including former city manager Renny Perry, local appraiser and Vergennes Partnership president Bill Benton, and political newcomer Nelson Sears.

The top three vote-getters will earn spots on the six-member council.

Austin, a downtown business and property owner, first won election to the city council in 2004. He is also a former member of the city’s planning and zoning boards.

Benton, born and raised in Vergennes, is also the Middlebury town assessor and a downtown property owner. He has served or is serving on many local and regional boards.

Bertrand, a Goodrich Aerospace employee, first won election to the council in 2008 as a political newcomer.

Comeau, a real estate broker and downtown property owner, was first appointed to the city council in 2005 after unsuccessfully running for a seat.

Perry served a half-dozen-year tenure as the Vergennes city manager that ended in 2008. He left that post to become Vermont’s director of trial court operations, a job he still holds.

Sears is a fifth-generation Vermonter and 1975 Vergennes Union High School graduate who has lived and worked in many places; he has a rich and varied resume.

For a preview of the city council race see story on Page 1A.

Vergennes residents also face a choice for the Vergennes Union Elementary School board, where two-term incumbent Cheryl Brinkman is being challenged by Susan Ferland. Brinkman has served as the board’s chairwoman and representative on the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board. Ferland is an experienced elementary school teacher who has worked at Addison Central School, but has not served on a school board previously.

Vergennes aldermen also approved three articles for residents’ consideration on Town Meeting Day, all of which will be discussed, but not voted upon, at the annual city meeting on Monday night. That meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Vergennes Opera House, with a dessert social set to start an hour before.

The articles on Tuesday’s ballot would, if approved:

•  Take $37,000 out of the city’s Watershed Fund to pay for improvements to the city’s recreation area, including expanding the paved area that houses the basketball and tennis courts in the summer and skating rink in the winter.

Currently, the city’s Watershed Fund, used to support recreation facilities, stands at $387,000. That fund started with $300,000 from the mid-1990s sale of the former Vergennes reservoir property in southwestern Monkton. Current council policy calls for 75 percent of the annual interest generated from the fund to be used for recreation spending, and 25 percent of the interest remaining in the fund to grow its principal.

The article also calls for the same 75/25 percent formula to stay in place for the $350,000 remainder of the Watershed Fund.

•  Take advantage of a new state law that allows municipalities and school districts the option of no longer mailing annual reports to every household. If residents approve this article, effective in 2013 reports would not be mass-mailed, but would be sent to households on request. Full printed copies would be available at City Hall for those citizens who want them, and the full text would also be available on the city’s website (vergennes.org).

•  Raise the threshold needed for petitioners to require a revote of a citywide election from 5 to 10 percent of the Vergennes checklist.

Effectively, that article means petitioners would have to round up about 150 signatures instead of 75 to challenge an election result.

In school spending issues, the VUHS board in January settled on an $8.97 million budget proposal to put before Addison Northwest Supervisory Union voters in March. The plan would increase spending at VUHS by a little less than 2 percent — essentially back to the school’s 2007-2008 level — after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

The Vergennes Union Elementary School board decided to put before voters a $3.91 million budget plan that would increase current spending by $20,500, or 0.5 percent.

Addison Northwest Supervisory Union officials are cautiously optimistic that the two spending plans would lead to little or no school tax hikes in the three VUES towns if both are approved on March 6. Vergennes could see a slight decrease in its school tax rate, they said, depending on decisions made by the Legislature this winter.

Vergennes, like Waltham and Panton, also will consider a $100,000 bond that would pay for improvements to the VUES roof. The first payment on the seven-year bond would be in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Vergennes voters do not decide on the city budget on Town Meeting Day. Aldermen will adopt a 2012-2013 spending plan and municipal tax rate by the end of June. 

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Waltham

WALTHAM — Waltham residents will gather at Waltham Town Hall on Monday night to make decisions on town officers and spending, and then return on Town Meeting Day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to vote on school budgets.

Waltham’s annual town meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday night. Residents will be dealing with three significant personnel decisions: The terms of Selectman Harold Francis, Town Clerk Mary Kinson, and Vergennes Union Elementary School director Kate Martin expire this month. At least Francis and Kinson have said they would like to be re-nominated from the floor of town meeting.

Waltham residents will be looking at a status quo town spending plan.

The selectboard is proposing for the 2012-2013 fiscal year a $72,547 general fund budget and $152,800 of road spending for a total of $225,347, including voter-approved charitable contributions.

In 2011 residents backed selectmen’s proposal for a $226,842 budget, including similar amounts for town office spending and roads, and that budget was virtually unchanged from the year before.

The only question for this year, selectmen said, is whether the town will get a grant to pave the length of Green Street. If not, the town will devote its paving line item to chip-sealing portions of Plank Road.

Other than charitable contributions, residents will decide on only one more article. In January selectmen accepted as a Town Meeting Day article a measure that, if approved, would require Waltham and the Vermont Legislature to urge the Vermont Congressional delegation to propose a constitutional amendment that would state “that money is not speech and that corporations are not persons.”

As far as school spending, the Vergennes Union High School board settled on an $8.97 million budget proposal to put before Addison Northwest Supervisory Union voters on Town Meeting Day. The plan would increase spending at VUHS by a little less than 2 percent — essentially back to the school’s 2007-2008 level — after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

The Vergennes Union Elementary School board decided to put before voters on Town Meeting Day a $3.91 million budget plan that would increase current spending by $20,500, or 0.5 percent.

ANwSU officials are cautiously optimistic that passage of those two budgets would lead to little or no school tax hikes in the three VUES towns, including Waltham.

Those towns will also consider a $100,000 bond that would pay for improvements to the VUES roof. The first payment on the seven-year bond would be in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. 

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Weybridge

WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge voters at their town meeting will be asked to pay for another two years of mosquito control services and also appropriate $60,000 to repave around a half-mile’s worth of local roads.

Residents will also decide an Weybridge Elementary spending plan that is 14.55-percent lower than this year’s, while determining whether to vote on all future elementary school spending plans by Australian ballot, rather than by voice vote.

Weybridge receives aerial drops of larvicide during the spring and summer as part of the Lemon Fair Insect Control District. Officials are requesting that the town re-up for another two years for $23,000.

Town Clerk Karen Brisson said the selectboard has yet to decide the specific road areas that would benefit from the $60,000 that is being sought for repaving. She said the money is being sought to catch up on a backlog of repaving work.

Weybridge will be asked to approve a 2012-2013 elementary school spending plan of $970,277, representing a 14.55-percent decrease that reflects an ongoing trend of declining enrollment.

This is the third year in a row that Weybridge school directors are pitching a reduced budget. Local voters last year OK’d a $1,135,495 spending plan that amounted to a 6.4-percent decrease compared to the previous year.

A citizens’ petition has resulted in an article being placed on the warning that, if passed, would result in future school spending plans being fielded by Australian ballot. The school budget is currently voted from the town meeting floor.

The proposed 2012-2013 town highway budget would spend $341,300, a hike of around $13,000 compared to this year’s pending plan of $328,200. The general fund spending plan is being pitched at $90,790, up slightly from this year’s spending plan of $87,303.

The town meeting warning also includes requests:

•  For $13,000 to continue the community’s recycling program.

•  For $20,000 to help support the local fire department.

•  To establish a town-wide Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) district in concert with Efficiency Vermont to benefit local residents seeking to make energy-related upgrades to their homes (See story, Page 1A).

•  For a combined total of $19,906 for area human service organizations.

There will be no contested elections in Weybridge this year. Chris Bagley is running unopposed for a three-year term on the selectboard, while incumbent Selectman Peter James is re-upping for a two-year term.

Eben Punderson and Justin Purdue are waging write-in campaigns for terms of three and two years, respectively, on the local school board. Chris Eaton has announced a write-in campaign for a three-year term being vacated by incumbent UD-3 school board member Elizabeth Robinson.

Town meeting will be held at Weybridge Elementary at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 5. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the town clerk’s office.

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Whiting

WHITING — Whiting voters will gather on Tuesday evening, March 6, to discuss the proposed town and school budgets, and to elect town officials.

Selectmen have proposed a 2012 town spending plan of $382,462, which represents an increase of 10 percent from the $345,015 that voters approved last year. If the budget is approved as warned, Whiting would apply $187,361 in tax revenues to town spending.

“We run on a calendar year, which is different from a lot of towns,” said Town Clerk Grace Simonds. “So we have our disbursements on one hand and what we expect to receive from taxes on the other.”

Much of this year’s rising budget is attributed to projected road work proposed by road commissioner Paul Quesnel. Last year the town authorized only $209 for road improvements. This year, the roads are slated to cost $230,700.

“We’re a small town,” said Simonds. “We only have 14 miles of road, but we have to take care of them every few years.”

Several town official positions will be up for election this year, including a three-year selectboard position, lister, auditor, delinquent tax collector, and two library trustees. These positions will be selected from the floor.

The Whiting school meeting will fill spaces for two school directors and a district treasurer, and seek to pass a $530,100 spending plan, which represents a 4.9 percent increase from last year’s spending of $505,409.

The school meeting will be at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, with the town meeting to follow. Both meetings will be held in the Whiting Town Hall. Voting by Australian ballot on the Otter Valley Union High School budget will be held from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

 

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