Orwell town meeting preview 2020

ORWELL — Orwell residents will gather at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 3, in Orwell Town Hall to deal with town financial issues, and, no doubt, when those questions are settled discuss the issue of the future of the building in which they are meeting.

One scenario in a $59.5 million Slate Valley Unified Union School District bond proposal being floated on Tuesday calls for Orwell’s Town Hall, now used by the Orwell Village School as a gym and cafeteria but in poor condition, to be razed and the space used for parking.

Some Orwell petitioners have asked that scenario not to occur, and officials expect the issue to be a hot topic in the “transact any other business” portion of the town’s annual meeting.

During the balance of the meeting residents will decide on a $1,122,249 proposed 2020 budget, of which $753,205 will need to be funded by taxpayers.

That figure does not include, officials said, a number of other financial requests, the largest of which are:

•  $55,000 for the repair of the Orwell Free Library’s standing seam roof, “with a 2 year note.”

•  $17,500 for a used mower tractor.

•  $15,000 for the Orwell Free Library building, a $3,000 increase.

•  $4,000 for books for the Orwell Free Library.

•  $2,200 for the Orwell Parade Committee.

The town is also seeking $48,600 for the sewer budget, to be paid by users. Thirteen social service agencies are also requesting donations ranging from $320 to $1,750.

There are no contested races for town offices, but there will be two new faces on the Orwell selectboard after two long-time members chose not to run again after more than two decades each of what town officials described as dedicated service: Paula Barnes and Ted Simmons.

Running unopposed to replace them on the board are Rex Corey and Robert Barnes.

Australian balloting at Orwell Town Hall will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 3. During those hours Orwell residents will weigh in on two Slate Valley spending measures.

On the school front, Orwell residents will vote on the $59.5 million SVUUSD bond proposal, which would pay for major renovations to Fair Haven Union High School, build a Slate Valley Middle School adjacent to FHUHS, install an elevator in the Fair Haven Grade School, and add an addition to Orwell Village School.

Project details can be found at tinyurl.com/uylu6ly.

They will also vote on the regular SVUUSD school spending proposal, which asks for $26,623,041 to educate in the six district towns. That equates to $16,663 per equalized pupil, which is 3.66% higher than this year.

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