Archive - Mar 6, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — After more than a half-century of debate, traffic studies, engineering designs and numerous referenda, Middlebury is now firmly on the road to building a new in-town bridge.
Local voters saw to that on Tuesday as they overwhelmingly endorsed two Town Meeting Day initiatives that municipal officials believe could result in the new span being completed at Cross Street as soon as the fall of 2010.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” Middlebury selectboard Chairman John Tenny said of the March 4 votes. “I’m very excited about our ability to go forward.”
In a stellar turnout boosted by Tuesday’s presidential primaries, residents voted 1,535 to 673 to authorize a 30-year, $16 million bond issue to fund the project, the centerpiece of which will be a span that will link Main Street to Court Street over the Otter Creek via Cross Street.
Residents also voted 1,358 to 829 in favor of asking the Vermont Legislature to amend Middlebury’s town charter so that the community will have the opportunity, in the future, of implementing local option taxes to help cover $7 million of the project’s cost. Middlebury College has pledged to bankroll the remaining $9 million.
Tenny said the selectboard will now turn its attention to crafting a local options tax proposal he hopes can be presented to voters by late-spring, before area schools get out and before many area residents disperse for summer vacations.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — Area residents at town meetings and in Tuesday Australian balloting backed budgets for all four local union schools, the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, and every town’s elementary school except Hancock (see story).
The support for Addison County and Brandon-area schools mirrored a statewide trend. As of late Wednesday morning, officials at the Vermont Superintendents’ Association knew of only three Vermont high school plans and five elementary school budgets that had failed.
Even though all results were not in at that hour, one superintendents’ association official called that tally “a really low number of defeats.”
Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Bill Mathis said the statewide support for school spending showed that Vermont officials’ focus on more school finance reform may be misplaced.
“The governor and the legislator must live in a different state than the voters … All we’ve heard is unrelenting talk of property taxes and school costs,” Mathis said. “My feeling is the people have spoken very clearly and universally … that they support their schools.”
Mathis said he has data that shows, once prebates are factored in, that Vermonters are spending a smaller percentage of their incomes on education than they were 10 years ago. That was before the Legislature passed Act 60, Vermont’s landmark school finance reform law, and, more recently, Act 68, which updated Act 60.
He noted that many towns’ tax rates are level, or up only slightly, despite inflationary increases in school spending.
“The big message is first of all it means that Act 60 and Act 68 are working, and income sensitivity is working,” Mathis said. “For all the criticism of Act 68, obviously Act 68 is working.”
ADDISON COUNTY — With the exception of tiny Hancock, residents in towns throughout Addison County overwhelmingly supported presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton to determine who will be the candidate representing the Democratic Party in its effort to recapture the White House. Meanwhile, Republicans overwhelmingly endorsed Sen. John McCain to be their party’s candidate over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Countywide (with the results of Goshen — pop. 227 — unreported), residents supported Sen. Obama, 6,454 to 3,863 or 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent, over Sen. Clinton, and supported Sen. McCain, 1,889 to 420 or 82 percent to 18 percent, over former Gov. Huckabee.
Those results mirrored the rest of Vermont, where Obama swept the state with 60 percent of the vote compared to Clinton’s 38 percent (John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich, who have pulled suspended campaigning, each got 1 percent).
On the Republican side, McCain garnered 72 percent of the vote compared to Huckabee’s 14 percent. Conservative Ron Paul captured 7 percent of the vote, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who have both pulled out of the race, received 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Of the 12,626 votes cast in the primary in Addison County, 82 percent voted in the Democratic primary.