Town Meeting Results 2012

Below is our 2012 town-by-town wrapup of actions taken by Addison County and Brandon voters at their local annual gatherings. Click on a town to jump to the results.

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

Addison

ADDISON — Addison residents on Tuesday backed all town and school spending measures.

There were no contested races for office. Incumbents Jeff Kauffman and Lisa Davis were returned to the selectboard without opposition, as were Addison Central School directors Rob Hunt and Alison Martin.

Voters backed total town spending of $1,024,563, including charitable contributions, $357,967 for the general fund budget and $641,586 for road spending.

That figure represents a 4.5 percent increase: The total budgeted amount, including charities, for the current fiscal year, was $980,596.

But selectmen said because of careful fiscal management, much of which they credit to road foreman Bryan Nolan and soon-to-retire Town Clerk Jane Grace, 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.

Some of that 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.

Residents backed a proposed Addison Central School budget of roughly $1.68 million for the coming school year, 215-98.

The ACS plan will 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.

Addison also joined the other Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns in expressing strong support for a proposed $8.97 Vergennes Union High School budget. In Addison, the vote was 192-118; overall, the budget won by about 62-38 percent. 

The budget will increase spending at VUHS by a little less than 2 percent after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

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

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Brandon

BRANDON  — An incumbent selectboard member was unseated by a newcomer in Brandon’s Town Meeting Day voting, while a hotly contested lister’s race was decided by a single vote.

Incumbent Selectwoman Kellie Martin was unseated by challenger David Atherton, 467-381, for a three-year term on the board.

Maria Ammatuna barely won a three-year lister’s seat over incumbent Lou Faivre by a single vote, 429-428. Faivre has the option to request a recount.

Selectmen Ethan Swift and Devon Fuller were each re-elected to one year terms. Both ran unopposed.

Voters also passed Brandon’s general fund spending plan of $3,105,900 by a margin of 505-356. The $5,056,886 Neshobe School spending plan also passed, 529-326.

The town budget figure was an increase of roughly $5,000, or 0.098 percent, over the current spending plan. Officials said $2,247,050 will be raised by taxes to fund town spending, which will raise the residential tax from $2.03 to $2.05.

The amount OK’d for school spending represented an increase of $276,649, or 5.8 percent, over what was approved last year.

Brandon also joined the ranks of many other Vermont municipalities on Town Meeting Day by passing a resolution supporting campaign finance reform on a national level. And at the town meeting itself, a number of issues, old and new, came up for discussion.

One issue on the minds of attendees was the rebuilding of the Brandon town offices, which were also damaged in the Aug. 28 flood. Among numerous questions the select board was asked whether or not the work being done was solely to provide repairs, or if a unilateral decision had been made to completely redesign the interior.

“The damage that was done to the interior of the town offices, although it may not have been obvious, was extensive,” said Selectman Mitch Pearl. “We’re not looking to do something fancy, but just something more efficient, more modern, and more cost effective.”

When asked how the project will be funded, Town Manager Keith Arlund said the town is looking at options.

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Bridport

BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting decided four contested local elections, endorsed most of the money items on their ballot and received some good news in the form of a $100,000 surplus that will be returned to the taxpayers.

Earl Audet beat Shirley Giard, 201-129, in the race for a two-year term on the selectboard. Leonard Barrett ran unopposed for another three-year term on the board.

Incumbent Bridport Central School Director Keith Grier withstood a challenge from Suzanne Buck, 157-146, in securing another three-year term.

Julie Howlett resoundingly defeated incumbent Town Treasurer Jo Clawson, 259-82, for a one-year term, while incumbent First Constable Robert Anderson easily won re-election for another year over challenger Rick Coursey, 247-72.

The proposed 2012-2013 town/highway spending plan of $1,018,533, which was down around $60,000, was endorsed by a voice vote.

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

Bridport Central School’s 2012-2013 spending plan of $1,331,195, a 0.15-percent increase, earned approval by a 194-150 margin.

Articles seeking $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 all passed.

In balloting in the GOP presidential primary, Mitt Romney earned 68 votes, Ron Paul received 63, Rick Santorum got 60 and Newt Gingrich got 15.

Town Clerk Valerie Bourgeois said 349 of the town’s 821 registered voters — 43 percent — turned out at the polls.

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Bristol

BRISTOL — This year’s Town Meeting Day featured a two-way race for selectboard, a four-way race for school board and the Bristol police budget — a new Town Meeting Day line item. But first the town assembled on Monday to discuss a 5.96 percent increase in the amount to be raised by taxes for next year’s municipal spending plan.

Despite vocal opposition to elevated municipal spending leading up to Bristol’s town meeting, on Monday townspeople overwhelmingly approved proposed 2012-2013 town spending of $2,099,246. Of that amount, $1,717,446 will be raised by property taxes, which represents a $96,647, or 5.96 percent, increase from this year.

The amount to be raised by taxes to cover general fund expenditures reflects a 5.27 percent increase, and the amount for highway spending represents a 7.17  percent increase.

All articles on Monday’s agenda passed — two with amendments. Voters approved $125,000 for a new dump truck with winter equipment — $10,000 more than what was warned— and they also agreed to add the Open Door Clinic to the town’s list of organizations that would receive appropriations. The clinic requested $1,000 in Bristol support and that raised the total appropriation amount to $83,550 from $82,550.

On Town Meeting Day 753 townspeople voted to:

•  Reelect incumbent selectboard member Sharon Compagna over Tim Heffernan, 466-221.

•  Elect Chris Scrodin and Sheryl Thurber for one-year seats on the Bristol Elementary School board.

•  Elect incumbent selectboard Chair Joel Bouvier, who ran uncontested for a three-year term.

•  Approve a $4,559,439 Bristol Elementary School spending plan for next year, up $190,285, or 4.4 percent, from this year. The vote tally was 450-266.

•  Approve a 2012-2013 Bristol Police Department spending plan of $343,728, which marks a $404,628, or 3.2 percent, increase in the amount to be raised by taxes. The Bristol police budget just squeaked by 196-189.

•  Approve a bond not to exceed $300,000 for upcoming construction on the South Street Bridge. Although the project will be paid for mostly by the state, Bristol is still required to pay 10 percent of the project’s construction costs. Right now total project costs are estimated at $2,350,000, but town officials want padding in case costs go up.

No write-in candidates for the Mount Abraham Union High School board received the required 1 percent of votes, and the Bristol Elementary School board will appoint people to two positions.

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Cornwall

CORNWALL — Cornwall residents on Town Meeting Day approved all the money items on their warning and elected Abi Sessions from among three candidates seeking election to a one-year term on the local selectboard.

Residents also instructed the selectboard to sell the historic Lavalley Store building, with the proviso that it be removed from the site as soon as possible. If there are no buyers, the board has been authorized to spend up to $25,000 to dismantle the building, recycle as much of the material as possible, and clean up the site.

The proposed 2012-2013 general fund budget of 353,201 and highway budget of $361,635 earned approval, as did a Bingham Memorial School budget of $1,337,935, which represented a 2.9-percent increase compared to this year.

Cornwall voters also:

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

•  Transferred ownership of the town-owned property at 63 North Bingham St. to the fire department.

•  Maintained tax-exempt status for the Mary Baker Allen Chapter DAR House for another five years.

•  Approved library support to the tune of $3,000 and fire department aid to the tune of $59,700.

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

Sessions easily won the selectboard race with 215 tallies, followed by Sean Stearns (67) and Luke Jerome (30). The one year represents the balance of a term vacated by former Selectwoman Nancy Kemp.

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

Maureen Deppman ran unopposed for a three-year term on the Bingham Memorial School board. John Eagan successfully mounted a write-in campaign for a two-year vacancy on the board.

In GOP presidential primary polling, Mitt Romney received 59 tallies, followed by Ron Paul (39), Rick Santorum (29) and Newt Gingrich (10).

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Ferrisburgh

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh residents on Tuesday backed an incumbent selectman over a challenger, supported all town and school spending measures, picked a new Ferrisburgh school director, and approved — by a single vote — a measure that could help residents pay on a long-term basis for energy-efficiency improvements to their properties.

In the selectboard race, incumbent Kieran Kilbride, who stepped down from the town’s planning commission to join the selectboard as a 2011 appointee, survived a challenge from political newcomer James Benoit, 312-196. Another incumbent selectman, John DeVos, faced no opposition.

In a tighter race for the Ferrisburgh Central School board, Bill Clark outpolled Katie Boyle, 229-204. Two other seats on that board remain vacant. Incumbent FCS director Kurt Haigis held one; he instead filed for a vacancy on the Vergennes Union High School board, for which he ran unopposed.

In spending issues, residents approved a roughly proposed $1.619 million town budget, and then added $89,000 to that bottom line:

•  $29,000 of charitable donations.

•  $30,000 for the town’s fire department toward an eventual truck purchase.

•  $30,000 for the public works department for future major purchases and potential emergencies. 

Those decisions increased total town spending from about $1.631 million this fiscal year to $1.708 million in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

That roughly $77,000 increase represents 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.

After two votes — one by a show of hands and one after selectmen asked people for and against to stand — residents backed, 50-49, the town becoming a Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) district.

Selectboard minutes said PACE status will “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 will be placed on the property to protect the town’s interests.

In Australian balloting, residents backed a $3.1 million FCS budget that will increase spending by about 2.8 percent, 343-227. Almost all of an $84,000 increase is in salaries and health benefits for teachers, special educators, staff and administrators.

Ferrisburgh residents joined other ANwSU residents in expressing support for an $8.97 million VUHS budget proposal. The vote in Ferrisburgh was 328-242. The plan will increase spending at VUHS by a little less than 2 percent after years of either little or no increase or slight decreases.

ANwSU officials are optimistic there will be little or no increase to the town’s school tax rate despite the modest school spending hikes.

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Goshen

GOSHEN — The smallest town in Addison County, Goshen saw an impressive voter turnout in Town Meeting Day voting — over 60 percent. The 2010 census lists Goshen’s population at 163; and 99 residents cast ballots.

Goshen residents passed the proposed $315,316 town spending plan by voice vote on Monday night, after adding in $5,000 for “Constable Purchase Services.” The final 2012-13 spending plan stands at $320,316.

“We passed all our articles except Article 12. That would have let the selectboard appoint the constables,” said Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon.

The Goshen constabulary has been a contentious item for several years running and the drama continued this year. At Monday evening’s town meeting, Goshen residents voted to keep constable an elected office, opposing Article 12 by a tally of 52-45.

The race for second constable went to Ed Hayes, who was recognized at the meeting for his work grading the town roads. Hayes defeated Bruce Webster, 72-22.

Goshen also saw contested elections for a selectboard position and for the trustee of public funds. Kevin O’Classen, who has served as town and school moderator, received 65 votes in a selectboard race, defeating incumbent Kathy Mathis, who tallied 31.

J. Douglas Graham, a past justice of the peace, will serve as trustee of public funds, following a 63-30 victory over Jeanne Meyer.

Two last-minute write-in campaigns for school directors proved successful, with Joe Bagley taking 32 votes as Neshobe director, and Thomasina Magoon with 49 for Otter Valley director. 

In their GOP presidential primary, Goshen cast votes for Mitt Romney (18 votes), Rick Santorum (14), Ron Paul (10) and Newt Gingrich (5).

Goshen saw an unexpected increase in elementary students this year, which brought a spike in school spending. With 16 elementary students to tuition to area schools, the Goshen Town School budget jumped to $202,845. This is a 31 percent increase from last year’s budget of $154,466. 

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Granville

GRANVILLE — Granville residents gathered on Tuesday night to vote on a town budget, discuss several points of road spending, elect town officers and finalize their school budget.

Forty-eight voters attended the meeting, where all issues were voted from the floor. Residents passed a municipal budget of $288,679, 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 increase in spending. Last year the town used $14,000 in USDA bonds to finance the work.

Granville voters also chose to appropriate $13,000 to the Highway Capital Investment Fund for the purchase of gravel, and an additional $5,000 for upkeep on the municipal complex. Voters also directed $1,000 to the Rochester Public Library.

Town officers were elected from the floor, including Victoria Crowne for three years on the selectboard and Jaqueline Hammond to the selectboard for another two years. Hammond was appointed to replace a resigning selectboard member, and will continue to serve in that capacity until 2014.

Voters approved the 2012-2013 school spending plan of $572,861 during Tuesday’s school meeting. This is a decrease of 19.4 percent from last year’s school budget of $684,194.

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.

Despite a drop in spending, the 2012-2013 estimated school tax rate is expected to rise. 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.

Werner attributes this discrepancy to rising tuition at the Rochester Elementary School, where many Granville students attend. School board member Bruce 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.

The GOP primary in Granville garnered only 16 votes. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney tied with 5 votes each, followed by Newt Gingrich with 4. Ron Paul received 2 votes. 

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Hancock

HANCOCK — Residents of Hancock gathered in large numbers Tuesday morning and moved forward with their continued cleanup from Tropical Storm Irene by giving the selectboard the green light to repair Upper Churchville Road.

Assistant Town Clerk Roger Comes said that the 70 voters at the annual town meeting was a larger number than usual, (Hancock has 252 on its voter checklist) possibly because there were fears that townspeople would vote to close Upper Churchville Road. Since the Aug. 28 flooding from Irene, families in the 11 or 12 homes that live on the road have had to travel a temporary road through Rochester.

The article to repair the road passed Tuesday by a clear majority with a show of hands.

Now, with the voters’ OK, selectmen can move forward with a repair plan as proposed by Phelps Engineering. Comes said the repairs could cost close to $1 million, but it was hoped that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would reimburse the town.

Work could begin next month.

Hancock also OK’d a proposed town spending plan for 2012-2013 of $391,703. That was bigger than the figured warned for the meeting; townspeople added in an extra $50 for the food shelf and an extra $10,000 to repair the cemetery.

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

Voters also OK’d $45,000 for the road commissioner’s budget.

Officials from the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union fielded a lot of questions about education costs and how they were figured. Then, on a show of hands, voters passed a school spending plan of $791,808.

In elections for town officers incumbent Shelley Twitchell defeated James Leno, 48-22, of a three-year term on the selectboard, Nancy Shaw was elected lister and Leno was elected moderator and road commissioner.

Michael Kolesnik won a two-year spot as school director (he was completing a term vacated by Sarah Deering, who had to step down because she is delinquent tax collector). Incumbent Rose Juliano won a three-year seat as school director.

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Leicester

LEICESTER — Registered voters met at the Leicester Meeting House on Monday night to discuss the town and school budgets and the election of new town officers.

Leicester residents passed their municipal budget of $501,290 by voice vote, an increase of 8.4 percent over the 2011-2012 spending plan of $462,254.

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

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

The town has begun repairs, and will be reimbursed by FEMA, though the federal aid doesn’t show up on this year’s fiscal calculus.

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

The 196 voters who turned out on Tuesday for Australian ballot voting passed the school budget 101-80. Town residents passed a school spending plan of $1,060,658. That’s an increase of $46,816, or 4.6 percent, over the current year’s spending plan of $1,013,842.

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) will tentatively rise from $1.34 to $1.37 per $100 of property assessment.

Leicester saw no contested elections, though a write-in campaign rewarded Richard Reed with 31 votes as town moderator and 21 as school moderator. Voters elected Heather McDonough as a write-in for three-year school director.

The GOP primary in Leicester returned Mitt Romney with 42 votes, followed by Rick Santorum at 31, and Ron Paul at 27. Newt Gingrich garnered 10 votes, Jon Huntsman 4, and Rick Perry only one.    

Benware recognized long-time town and school officer Bob Oliver for his service at Monday’s meeting, presenting him with a symbolic key to the town and a certificate.

“He wasn’t expecting it at all,” Benware said. “Everyone stood up and clapped. I think he was very pleased.”

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Lincoln

LINCOLN — The big-ticket item on Lincoln’s Town Meeting Day slate this year was a three-way race for town treasurer. Former Town Lister Lisa Truchon emerged the victor with 182 votes, followed by Linda Daybell with 152 and Shawn Richards with 48.

Will Sipsey sat in the town moderator seat for the first time this year, and Town Clerk Sally Ober said townspeople finished town meeting in record time at 9:25 p.m., approving all of the articles on the agenda. Among the items approved at town meeting and by Australian ballot voting were:

•  General fund expenditures of $650,369, down $73,845, or 11.4 percent, from the current fiscal year. Of that amount, $341,079 is requested from taxpayers, which is down $104,470, or 23.4 percent, from last year.

•  Highway fund expenditures of $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.

•  A Lincoln Community School spending plan of $1,812,638, up $79,095, or 4.6 percent, from this year. Lincoln’s education spending will drop 1.1 percent, or $18,241, which is expected to lead to a dip in the tax rate of about 1.5 cents.

•  A Mount Abraham Union High School spending plan that level-funds education spending for next fiscal year. Overall expenses will increase 0.7 percent to $13,542,142, but education spending — the part of the budget that directly affects tax rates — will remain the same as this year at $11,309,068.

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

•  Allocations of $36,500 for the Lincoln Library, $55,896 for the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company and $15,920 for local social agencies.

Of Lincoln’s 1,000 registered voters, 413 showed up on Town Meeting Day to cast votes. Among the local officials that ran uncontested and won new one-year terms were selectboard Chair Barbara Rainville, Town Clerk Sally Ober and Town Moderator Will Sipsey.

In the Super Tuesday Republican Primary, Ron Paul claimed Lincoln with 67 votes. Mitt Romney came in second with 64. And Rick Santorum came in third with 37. 

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Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents approved a $4.625-million bond to renovate and expand their fire department facilities, returned two incumbents to the selectboard and agreed to spend $72,000 annually over the next five years to help build a new fund aimed at bringing additional businesses and jobs to town.

The business development fund earned approval at Monday’s annual meeting by a 125-64 paper ballot vote, while a property tax-neutral municipal budget of $8,420,920 passed by voice vote (see related story).

Residents approved the fire facilities improvement bond by a 782-367 margin (see related story). The $4.65 million bond issue will 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.

Incumbent Selectboard members Victor Nuovo (613 votes) and Susan Shashok (520 tallies) retained their seats in what was a five-person race for two three-year seats on the selectboard. Finishing out of the running were Don Keeler (461), Eric Murray (272) and Brian Bauer (239).

Gary Baker was unopposed in his run for a one-year seat on the selectboard.

In the only other local contested race, Rebekah Irwin defeated David Weinstock, 520-427, in the race for a five-year term on the Ilsley Public Library board of trustees.

In GOP presidential primary voting, residents gave Mitt Romney 200 votes, Ron Paul 121, Rick Santorum 108 and Newt Gingrich 46.

In other town meeting action, Middlebury voters:

•  Agreed to float a loan of up to $251,000 over up to five years to finance a new police cruiser with related equipment; a new tandem plow truck and related equipment; and a new stake bed truck. All of the items will replace aging vehicles in the town’s fleet and are part of a regular replacement schedule.

•  Agreed to designate Middlebury as a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) District to enable participating property owners to access funding for eligible energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

•  Granted the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association another five years of tax-exempt status.

In uncontested elections, Middlebury voters re-elected incumbent UD-3 board members Bob Ritter, Lucy Schumer and Mark Perrin; picked Matt Landis for the ID-4 school board; Tom Lewis as lister; and former Gov. James Douglas as town moderator.

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Monkton

MONKTON — The hot items on Monkton’s agenda at Tuesday’s town meeting were a two-way selectboard race, a $1.5 million bond for a new municipal building and a general government operating budget that asks for a 15-percent increase in taxes.

In election news, challenger John McNerny defeated incumbent Selectman Terry Cunningham for a three-year selectboard term, 274-170.

For the second time in two years, voters weighed in on a new town hall proposition. On Tuesday, via Australian ballot, voters rejected the article, 286-224.

The proposal asked voters to relocate the town’s 152-year-old town hall from its current location on Monkton Ridge to town-owned land up the street, next to Monkton Friends Church, overlooking Monkton Pond. The town would have then borrowed up to $1.5 million in bonds for a 2,880-square-foot addition to the town hall that would have featured an upper level for government offices and a lower level for a larger town library.

Voters approved all budget lines, including:

•  General fund spending of $354,818 for fiscal year 2012-2013, which is up $32,315, or 10 percent, from this year. Of that amount $126,305 will be requested of taxpayers, which represents a hike of $16,632, or 15 percent.

•  Highway spending for next year of $721,495, up $2,238, or 0.3 percent, from this year. Of that amount, $527,447 will be raised by taxes, which represents a $44,495, or 7.8 percent, decrease.

•  Monkton Central School spending for 2012-2013 is of $2,521,277. This represents an increase of $192,275, or 8.2 percent, from this year. Education spending should increase $89,537, or 4.32 percent. The education tax rate is projected to rise about one-tenth of a cent.

In Australian ballot voting, townspeople also agreed to:

•  Spend to $225,000 to replace a culvert on Monkton-Vergennes Road.

•  Establish a town-wide Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, district to provide low-interest loans to homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements.

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

At town meeting, voters also OK’d a resolution to instruct the Monkton 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.”

Voter turnout for Monkton this year was 535. In the Republican Presidential Primary, Mitt Romney won Monkton with 91 votes, followed by Ron Paul with 82 and Rick Santorum with 54.

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New Haven

NEW HAVEN — New Haven’s town meeting agenda featured voter approval of increased Beeman Elementary School spending and a town budget that reflects lower general fund expenditures and higher road expenditures.

The 2012-2013 Beeman Elementary School spending plan of $1,820,499 — up $106,486, or 6.2 percent, from the current year — passed 304-111. But Beeman’s education spending will go down 0.78 percent, which will drop tax rates about half a cent.

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

At Monday’s town hall meeting, voters were also asked 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 were asked to decide whether they should have it. The vote went to paper ballots, and the people decided, 59-24, that they did not need this right and the selectboard could adopt new zoning ordinances on its own.

Voters also approved a request to spend up to $69,000 from the road equipment fund for a new plow truck. Long-time Town Moderator Lanny Smith won the position again via write-in ballot (Smith said he had missed the deadline for filing a petition to get his name on the ballot because he was out of town), Brad Bull won a three-year Beeman school director position via write-in and Susie Leonard won a one-year post as town lister, also via write-in.

This year’s New Haven voter turnout was 427 of 1,234 registered voters. In the Republican primary, Mitt Romney won with 69 votes in New Haven, Rick Santorum came in second with 55 votes and Ron Paul came in third with 49 votes. 

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Orwell

ORWELL — As forecast by Selectman Roland Simmons, Orwell had a “fairly easy meeting” this week. Town and school budgets both passed as proposed, and 119 registered voters elected all town officers with no contest during Tuesday’s voting.

At Monday’s annual school meting, the $1,661,585 Orwell school budget passed by paper ballot, 81-38, raising spending by 5.47 percent from last year’s $1,575,395 budgeted spending.

Orwell voters passed a municipal spending plan of $1,098,865 by voice vote at Tuesday’s town meeting. The budget is an increase of 15.3 percent from last year’s 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.

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 in the 2012-2013 budget.

Orwell residents also passed a separate $10,000 initiative by voice vote, authorizing research a senior living center in Orwell. One meeting attendee said this subject garnered a fair amount of discussion.

There were no contested offices. Voters elected Paula Barnes to a three-year term as a selectboard member, John Tester to a three-year seat on the town school board, and Sarah Tetzlaff to two years as town school director.

The Orwell GOP primary saw Mitt Romney in the lead with 70 votes, followed by Ron Paul at 56 and Rick Santorum with 44. Newt Gingrich got 18 votes, while Jon Huntsman, who has left the race, received 5.

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Panton

PANTON — From the floor of town meeting, Panton residents on Tuesday returned Selectwoman Beth Tarallo to the board for three more years and gave William Lanning a two-year term to replace Selectman Eric Carter, who earlier this winter informed his colleagues he had opted to step down from the board Town Meeting Day.

Also at town meeting, Panton elected for the first time Jean Miller as their town clerk; selectmen had appointed her to replace Sue Torrey after Torrey retired late last year.

Residents also chose Jason Fearon as a Vergennes Union Elementary School board director at the meeting, and learned they did not have to vote on the treasurer position: Town officials ruled that, in fact, incumbent treasurer M’Lissa Dayton had been awarded a three-year term in 2011.

Panton residents from the floor of the meeting also backed all financial measures, bringing total town spending up to $645,692, an increase of about 0.76 percent.

Included in that support was backing for four special funds, $15,000 for Panton Town Hall restoration, $20,000 for the Highway Capital Equipment Fund, and $2,000 each for tires for the town’s grader and for records digitization.

Panton voters joined in supporting the $8.97 Vergennes Union High School budget that earned widespread support; the tally in Panton was 55-27. The VUHS plan will increase spending there by a little less than 2 percent after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

Panton also cast ballots on a $3.91 million VUES budget that will increase current spending by $20,500, or 0.5 percent. The town’s ballots were commingled with those in Vergennes and Waltham; overall, the VUES plan won, 481-225. Residents in the three communities also backed a $100,000 plan to fix a portion of the school’s roofing.

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

 But Dayton also said 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. Individual homes’ taxes could also change with a new assessment. 

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Ripton

RIPTON — Ripton residents on Town Meeting Day passed virtually every item on their warning and elected Laura McIntosh over Chris Lacey, 78-65, in a contested race for the Ripton School Board.

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

Approved by voice vote at the annual meeting on Monday were:

•  A 2012-2013 elementary school budget $775,360, representing a 5.4-percent increase in spending but an anticipated decrease of 17.2 percent in the homestead education property tax rate.

•  A 2012-2013 highway budget of $353,350 (down from $386,550) and a general fund spending plan of $270,711 (down from $285,241).

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

•  A property tax abatement for the Silver Towers Camp owned and operated by the Vermont Elks Association. The request was 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.

•  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.”

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

Voters rejected a proposal to apply any surplus from the current fiscal year to reduce taxes next fiscal year.

In GOP presidential primary voting, Mitt Romney received 25 votes, Rick Santorum 15, Ron Paul, 16 and Newt Gingrich 1.

Officials said 153 (34 percent) of the town’s registered voters participated in voting this year.

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Salisbury

SALISBURY — After passionate discussion on both sides of the issue, Salisbury residents on Monday night rejected a proposal to change the venue for approval of local school budgets from the floor of the annual town meeting to Australian ballot voting on Town Meeting Day.

Salisbury is one of a dwindling number of Addison County communities that still vote on its elementary school budget from the town meeting floor. Resident Peter Langrock, among others, spoke eloquently about the benefits of direct democracy and the ability of townspeople to amend school budgets from the floor. Others gave equally impassioned speeches decrying how hard it is for many people, especially young parents and infirm seniors, to make it to town meeting; they pointed out that only about one-eighth of the registered voters were at Monday’s meeting.

In a paper ballot vote, 38 people voted to move the school budget vote and 72 voted to leave it as is, so school budgets in Salisbury will continue to be voted from the floor of the annual meeting.

An article to restrict use of money from the town Landfill Fund drew a heated debate. At issue was whether selectmen would be allowed to continue borrowing money from the fund at their own discretion, or whether any withdrawals from the fund would require approval of the voters. Some contended that past selectboards had raided the fund or that future boards could raid it, while others said borrowing from the fund at below-market rates made good financial sense for the town and did not jeopardize its integrity.

In Australian ballot voting residents decided 185-71 to restrict the fund.

Voters also approved the proposed school and municipal spending plans as warned and returned several town officers to their posts.

The elementary school spending plan that was approved budgets $1,447,319 for 2012-13, up 1 percent compared to this year. The paper ballot vote was 86-26.

Voters in Tuesday Australian ballot voting approved by a tally of 213-42 the proposed 2012-2013 general fund spending plan of $177,661, which was down slightly $1,200 from the current year. The highway spending plan approved comes in at $405,972, up more than $40,000 compared to this year’s budget of $363,144. The tally in Tuesday voting was 205-50.

In the only race, challenger Benjamin Fuller defeated incumbent Selectwoman Martha Sullivan, 141-108, in a contest for a three-year term on the selectboard.

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

Craig Carpenter waged a successful write-in campaign for a two-year seat on the elementary school board; he got 33 votes.

Voters approved, 158-97, 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.”

They also OK’d, 202-57, an appropriation of $16,125 to the Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association for eradication of milfoil.

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Shoreham

SHOREHAM — Shoreham residents at their town meeting agreed to spend $450,000 for a new municipal office building on the town commons and decided a three-way race for two spots on the local selectboard.

Residents passed, by voice vote on Monday, a selectboard request to build the town offices using $290,000 that has accrued in the “new town office reserve fund” and an additional $160,000 that will be paid through a five-year loan. This money will be used to erect an approximately 2,000-square-foot building on town-owned land west (near School Street) of the current municipal offices.

Voters elected incumbent Selectmen Paul Saenger (200 votes) and Sanford Witherell Jr. (170 tallies) to one-year terms on the selectboard. Candidate Mark Spitzner finished out of the running with 137 votes.

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

The proposed 2012-2013 highway budget of $573,841 and general fund spending plan of $240,257 earned support, as did the Shoreham Elementary School budget of $1,426,401.

Voters also supported 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 fund balance into the Highway Equipment Fund; and $5,000 into the Reappraisal Reserve Fund.

In uncontested elections, Andrea Hubbell and Natalie Causton were elected to terms of three years and two years, respectively, on the local school board, while Benjamin Cadoret will fill out a vacated term on the school board that expires in March of 2013. Erik Remsen was elected to a three-year term on the UD-3 school board and Judy Stevens was pocked for another five years as library trustee. Glenn Symon, Jeff Bronson and Robin Conway were elected to terms of varying lengths on the local planning commission.

In Republican presidential primary voting, Mitt Romney received 38 votes, Ron Paul 42, Rick Santorum 40 and Newt Gingrich 19.

Town Clerk Amy Douglas (who was also re-elected) said 297 of Shoreham’s 824 registered voters turn out at the polls on Tuesday.

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Starksboro

STARKSBORO — Starksboro voters approved all budget items by voice vote at Saturday’s town meeting, beginning with $688,951 for the road and general fund, which represents a decrease of $71,319, or 9.4 percent, from the current year. The amount to be raised by taxes for this spending plan is up to $497,401, which represents an increase of $1,231, or 0.2 percent from this year.

Also approved was the $2,492,138 Robinson Elementary School spending plan for the coming fiscal year. It includes an increase of $159,462, or 6.4 percent, and homeowners will as a result likely see a tax-rate increase of about 4 cents. That tax hike is equivalent to an additional $80 of property taxes on a $200,000 home, assuming its owners are not eligible for property tax relief.

In budgetary news, voters also approved:

• $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 over five years.

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

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

• $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.

• An article to 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.”

There were no contested elections in Starksboro this year, but a number of local officials were nominated and re-elected for three-year terms. Among those were:

• Selectboard Chair Susan Jefferies.

• Town Clerk Cheryl Estey.

• Town Treasurer Celine Coon.

• Robinson School director Bonita Bedard.

At town meeting on Saturday, 129 residents turned out, and 330 voted on Tuesday. Ron Paul won the Starksboro Republican Primary with 58 votes, Mitt Romney came in second with 50 and Rick Santorum came in third with 42. 

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Vergennes

VERGENNES — On March 6 Vergennes residents gave a one-vote margin to a challenger to a two-term incumbent on the Vergennes Union Elementary School board.

Challenger Susan Ferland, a former Addison Central School teacher, edged VUES and Addison Northwest Supervisory Board member Cheryl Brinkman, 329-328.

Vergennes officials said on Tuesday night they expected a recount, but that almost all the votes were machine tallied.

Voters also picked two new city council members, former city manager Renny Perry and Vergennes Partnership President Bill Benton, while re-electing incumbent Clara “Ziggy” Comeau. Incumbents Lowell Bertrand and David Austin finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the six-way race for three seats. Political newcomer Nelson Sears was sixth (See story).

Residents also backed two articles that made changes to the way the city and its residents conduct business, and a third that will back improvements to the city’s recreation area.

The closest vote, 292-243, backed an article that raised 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.

Residents also backed, 383-152, a measure that (effective next year) will end the city’s practice of mailing annual reports to every household. Residents who wish to receive reports by mail may still request them in the future. Printed copies will also be available at city hall, and the full text will also be available on the city’s website (vergennes.org).

By a 390-142 margin, voters supported taking $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. Aldermen will continue to use 75 percent of the annual interest generated from remaining $350,000 for recreation spending, and 25 percent of the interest to grow the fund’s principal.

Vergennes voters joined in supporting the $8.97 million Vergennes Union High School budget; the tally in the city was 354-184. Overall, Addison Northwest Supervisory Union residents backed the VUHS budget by about 62-38 percent. The VUHS plan will increase spending there by a little less than 2 percent after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

Vergennes also cast ballots on a $3.91 million VUES budget that will increase current spending by $20,500, or 0.5 percent. The town’s ballots were commingled with those in Panton and Waltham; overall, the VUES plan won, 481-225. Residents in the three communities also backed a $100,000 plan to fix a portion of the school’s roofing.

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Waltham

WALTHAM — Waltham residents returned three incumbents to office, backed all spending measures, and supported a measure that declared corporations are not persons.

Nominated from the floor and returned to office without opposition were Selectman Harold Francis, Town Clerk Mary Kinson, and Vergennes Union Elementary School director Kate Martin.

Also backed were spending plans that town officials described as essentially status quo. All told, residents endorsed $225,347 in municipal spending, including a $72,547 general fund budget, $152,800 of road spending, and voter-approved charitable contributions.

The other article required 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.”

Francis said after a lively discussion, about three-quarters of the roughly 30 residents at town meeting on Monday backed the article in a voice vote.

On Tuesday, Waltham voters joined in supporting the $8.97 million Vergennes Union High School budget that earned 62-38 percent overall support in Addison Northwest Supervisory Union Towns; the tally in Waltham was 58-25. The VUHS plan will increase spending by a little less than 2 percent after years of either little or no increases or slight decreases.

Waltham also cast ballots on a $3.91 million VUES budget that will increase current spending by $20,500, or 0.5 percent. The town’s ballots were commingled with those in Vergennes and Panton; overall, the VUES plan won, 481-225. Residents in the three communities also backed a $100,000 plan to fix a portion of the school’s roofing.

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

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Weybridge

WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge voters at their town meeting rejected a proposal to have future elementary school budgets voted by Australian ballots.

Residents defeated the petitioned school ballot proposal on an 82-39 paper ballot vote at their annual meeting Monday evening. They passed their proposed 2012-2013 elementary budget of $970,277 — representing a 14.5-percent decrease — by a 95-35 paper ballot vote.

Also passed at Monday’s annual meeting, by voice vote, were requests:

•  For $23,000 to pay for another two years of mosquito control services. Weybridge receives aerial drops of larvicide during the spring and summer as part of the Lemon Fair Insect Control District.

•  For $60,000 to repave around a half-mile’s worth of local roads.

•  To fund the proposed 2012-2013 town highway budget of $341,300, and the proposed general fund budget of $90,790.

Voters also approved 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.

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

There were no contested elections in Weybridge this year.

Elected in Australian ballot voting were Chris Bagley, selectboard, three years; Peter James, selectboard, two years; Justin Perdue and Eben Punderson, terms of two years and three years, respectively, on the local school board; and Chris Eaton, UD-3 board, three years.

In GOP presidential primary voting, Mitt Romney received 42 votes; Rick Santorum, 23; Ron Paul, 23; and Newt Gingrich, 10.

Officials said 258 of the town’s 675 registered voters turned out to vote.

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Whiting

WHITING — Both school and town budgets passed by voice vote at Whiting’s town meeting Tuesday evening.

Sixty-six registered voters met to discuss the proposed town spending plan, which passed at $382,462, an increase of 10 percent from the $345,015 that voters approved last year. Whiting will raise $187,361 in taxes for town spending, the rest will come from state reimbursements and other sources.

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, maintenance of the town’s 14 miles of road are slated to cost $230,700.

It was a momentous meeting for Quesnel, who defended his position as road commissioner against Michael Bertrand, winning 47-19 in a paper ballot vote.

Quesnel also stepped down from the Whiting school board this year after 23 years — the longest tenure on record for the town.

“He didn’t run this time to make more time for his work as road commissioner,” said Town Clerk Grace Simonds. “He’s served longer than anybody.”

Several town officers had been appointed by selectmen prior to town meeting to fill vacancies due to resignations, including Bob Wood as a selectman for three years and Gloria Bertrand to a three-year term as lister. Both Wood and Bertrand ran for their assumed positions Tuesday and were elected.

According to Simonds, the two-and-a-half-hour meeting dealt mostly with the town budget, though there was some disagreement about allowing the library trustees to investigate construction grants.

“There was a long talk about cutting the budget, and about work on the library and town office,” she said. “Eventually the budget passed, but people wanted to lower it.”

At the Whiting annual school meeting, residents passed a proposed $530,100 spending plan, which represents a 4.9 percent increase from last year’s spending of $505,409.

Whiting’s GOP primary results showed Ron Paul in the lead with 11 votes, followed by Rick Santorum (10), Newt Gingrich (5) and Mitt Romney (5). Although they have withdrawn from the race, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry each received one vote. 

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Addison County Independent