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Town Meeting Previews

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Posted on February 24, 2011 |
By Addy Indy Staff



tmorjerryaudet.jpg
ORWELL RESIDENT JERRY Audet makes a point from the floor of the Orwell town meeting last year. Independent photo/Trent Campbell

Town Meeting Day 2011 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 on Town Meeting Day will decide three races for town office and weigh in on higher town spending, and vote on a reduced Addison Central School budget.

Like other Addison Northwest Supervisory Union communities Addison residents will also cast Australian ballots on the latest ANwSU unification initiative, which officials have tweaked slightly since its petitioned defeat in Addison a year ago. A new state law would also give ANwSU homeowners four years of tax breaks — starting at 8 cents a year and dropping to 2 cents a year over time — if the district makes the switch to one-board governance.

One of the races is for the ANwSU Unified Union board, which will only come into existence if all five towns back unification. Unification opponent Carol Kauffman is facing longtime ACS board member Rob Hunt in a contest for one of Addison’s two seats on the 12-member board. ACS board member Donald Jochum is running unopposed for the other seat.

Hunt, after 16 years on the ACS board, is also challenging for a seat on the selectboard. He will face incumbent Kimball Provencher, veteran of a decade as an Addison selectman. Two selectmen, longtime incumbent Steven Torrey and Lisa Davis, who was appointed last year to replace the late Dwight Burnham, are also running, but face no opposition.

The ACS board also will see a race. Kauffman is challenging incumbent Michele Kelly for a three-year term on the board. Kelly was appointed to the board in April 2010 to fill a vacancy. Another ACS board incumbent, chairwoman Kathy Clark, is running unopposed.

Voters in March 1 balloting from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the town clerk’s office will also decide the fate of a $1.71 million budget proposal for ACS. That plan calls for a 5.07 percent decrease in spending at the town’s elementary school.

Residents will also gather in the school gym at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28, to discuss town business, although the only decision to be made will be whether to publish the names of delinquent taxpayers.

The topic of the town budget will probably arise. Selectmen are proposing to add $66,915 to 2010 spending to reach $939,418.

That amount includes $305,920 for general fund spending and $633,498 for roads. Town Clerk Jane Grace said much of the increase was due to higher cost for road materials.

Last year Addison residents approved $32,350 of charitable requests, for a total town budget of $904,853.

This year, they will look at $41,138 of requests. The difference is essentially due to a higher request from the Bixby Library in Vergennes, which is asking for $18,388, up from $10,000. The amount is based on a per capita charge of $13.20, the same amount the Bixby is requesting from the other towns its serves.

Residents are also being asked to donate $5,000 to help celebrate the opening of the new Lake Champlain bridge in conjunction with Addison’s 250th anniversary.

If all the extra requests are approved, total town spending would rise from $904,853 to $980,556, an increase of almost 8.4 percent.

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Brandon

BRANDON — On Town Meeting Day, voters in Brandon will weigh in on a $3,100,872 municipal spending plan for fiscal year 2011-12, with $2,168,522 to be raised by property taxes. The proposed budget represents a 5.8 percent increase over the current year’s spending plan.

Increases include $20,000 in debt service for the voter-approved police station bond passed last year and a $60,000 increase in the police budget to cover new hires.

There is also a proposed $48,000 increase in the public works budget that will include $35,000 for sidewalk improvements and $10,000 for repairs to Bridge 114 in downtown; operating costs in the public works department are budgeted to rise $20,000.

The proposed 2011-12 Neshobe Elementary School budget is $4,780,237, up 4.7 percent, or $216,000, over the current budget due to increased enrollment. Bucking statewide trend, the Neshobe School must add a sixth-grade teacher for the 2011-12 school year to accommodate a 10-percent increase in enrollment this year. The proposed budget also covers a $96,000 increase in special education costs, an $88,400 increase in teachers’ salaries, and a $6,500 increase in transportation costs.

Brandon town meting will be held on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Neshobe School. Voting on budgets and to elect town officers will take place by Australian ballot at the school on Tuesday, March 1, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Bridport

BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting will decide contested races for the selectboard, town clerk and first constable, and field a town/highway budget that proposes spending that is more than $200,000 greater than this year’s budget.

Voters will decide a town/highway budget of $1,078,178, up from this year’s spending plan of $868,135. Bridport Town Clerk Valerie Bourgeois said the increase stems largely from culvert work on Lake Street ($100,000), foundation repairs for the town offices ($50,000), repairs to the transmission in a municipal road grader ($20,000), and $15,000 for a planned celebration of the 250th birthday of the town charter.

In contested elections, Steve Huestis and Michael White are vying for a two-year term on the selectboard; Julie Howlett is challenging Bourgeois for a one-year term as town clerk; and incumbent First Constable Robert Anderson faces opposition from Rick Coursey for a one-year term.

In uncontested elections, incumbent Selectwoman Margaret Sunderland is seeking another three-year term and Katherine Wagner is seeking a three-year term on the local school board. A two-year term on the local school board currently has no takers.

Bridport school directors are proposing a 2011-2012 spending plan of $1,329,218, representing a 0.12-percent decrease from the $1,330,817 approved last year.

Other articles on the warning seek:

•  $12,500 for the local fire department.

•  $8,000 for Town Line First Response.

•  Permission to borrow up to $55,000 for up to three years to buy a one-ton truck with dump body, plow and sander.

Town meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1, in the Bridport Community Hall. Australian ballot voting will take place on the same day at the same location from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Bristol

BRISTOL — When they gather at Holley Hall on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. for town meeting, Bristol voters will consider proposed town spending plans that rise modestly from the current year, and in Australian balloting on Tuesday, March 1, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., will elect town officials in some contested races.

The selectboard’s proposed town spending for 2011-2012 is $1,609,117, which represents and increase of 3.9 percent over the approved spending for 2010-2011. The proposal asked for $1,233,817 to be raised in taxes to pay for town spending. Voters will also be asked to fund the town’s Conservation Reserve Fund by adding a half-cent to the tax rate.

Specifically, the proposed Bristol budget asks for $728,505 for highway spending, $680,452 for general fund spending and $200,160 for the Arts, Parks and Recreation Department.

Town Clerk Therese Kirby explained that the two biggest increases in the proposed budget are a $60,000 bond payment to cover renovation of Holley Hall and a 17 percent increase in health insurance payments for town employees.

In Australian balloting, voters will consider a smaller elementary school budget than last year. Proposed 2011-2012 spending for Bristol Elementary School is $4,369,147, which is a decrease of $253,708, or 5.5 percent, over the current year’s spending of $4,622,855.

Also on the ballot will be election of three elementary school directors. Incumbent Garland “Chico” Martin is running unopposed for a three-year term; and fellow incumbents Karl Ginalski and Elin Melchior will be challenged for their two-year seats by R.E. “Dick” Merrill and Kris Perlee. Additionally, Bristol’s Mount Abraham Union High School director Gary Farnsworth faces a challenge for his three-year seat from Abby Degraw, whose name will be on the ballot, and Justin Bouvier, who is running as a write-in candidate.

In Tuesday’s selectboard elections, incumbent Alan Huizenga is running unopposed for the renewal of his three-year term on the selectboard, while incumbent John “Peeker” Heffernan faces a challenge from John Moyers for a two-year seat.

A number of other money questions will be put to voters at town meeting, including the appropriation of $113,932 for the Lawrence Memorial Library.

Voters will decide on donations to two dozen organization amounting to $70,400, including for example, $4,700 for Addison County Home Health, $1,100 for the Bristol Band and $3,500 for WomanSafe.

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Cornwall

CORNWALL — Voters at Cornwall’s town meeting Monday evening will decide a hotly contested race for planning commission and determine whether to raze the former Lavalley Store building.

Five people are vying for three three-year terms on the planning commission. They include incumbents Jim Bolton and Annie Wilson, along with challengers Mark Cesario, James Duclos and Eric Severy.

A citizens’ group recently studied the prospect of renovating the 120-year-old Lavalley Store building, located next to the town offices, and resurrecting it as a local store. The group was, however, unable to find enough resources to put a renovation plan into motion. The selectboard will now ask residents if they want to spend $15,000 to arrange for the town-owned store building to be demolished or removed from its present site and to recover, re-purpose or recycle whatever might be of value.

Voters will be asked to endorse a highway budget of $345,735, up slightly from the $341,620 spending plan approved last year. The general fund request comes in at $334,660, down from last year’s request of $336,478.

The Bingham Memorial School Board is proposing a budget of $1,299,806, down by 2.21 percent compared to this year’s spending plan of $1,329,145.

In other action at town meeting, residents will be asked to:

•  Determine what to do with the town’s financial surplus of $31,828.32 for the fiscal year July 2009 – June 2010.

•  Appropriate $59,700 to be transferred to the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department.

•  Appropriate $3,000 for the Cornwall Free Public Library and $500 for Cornwall Little League.

•  Designate the town as a “Clean Energy Assessment District” pursuant to 24 V.S.A. §3261(a) to encourage property owners to undertake renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in town.

In uncontested elections, David Sears and Ben Wood are seeking terms, of three years and two years, respectively, on the selectboard (incumbents Joe Severy and Michael Quesnel are not seeking re-election); Peter Conlon is seeking another three-year term on the UD-3 school board; and Cindy Peet is running for a three-year term on the local school board. A two-year term on the local school board currently has no takers.

Town meeting will be held at the Bingham Memorial School on Monday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m., with a community dinner slated for 5:30 p.m. Australian ballot voting will take place the following day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cornwall Town Hall.

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Ferrisburgh

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh residents will decide no contested races for office, but will make significant financial decisions when they gather for town meeting at Ferrisburgh Central School at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Australian balloting will run from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on March 1, with Ferrisburgh residents voting on lower Vergennes Union High School spending, an essentially level FCS budget, and the proposal to unify Addison Northwest Supervisory Union governance under one 12-member board.

At the meeting, residents will weigh in on selectmen’s proposed $1,565,632 town budget. If that plan is backed and all $63,755 of charitable requests is approved, town spending in the coming fiscal year would reach $1,629,387.

That would mean an increase of $64,387, or 4 percent, over current spending of $1.565 million, including charitable spending, residents backed a year ago.

Selectmen are also asking residents to back buying a new $185,000 dump truck, with plowing equipment. Payment would be through a five-year bond.

And selectmen have a proposal for a projected year-end fund balance of $187,533. They recommend citizens place it into a special fund to back construction of a new town highway shed. Town officials said the amount would fund more than half its cost, while using the money to lower taxes this year would save taxpayers $40 per $100,000 of assessed value.

At town meeting, residents will also decide whether to change how the town funds the Bixby Memorial Library. Currently, the Vergennes library requests money from Ferrisburgh and the other towns it serves directly from voters as a charity at town meeting. Bixby officials have requested instead to be included as a line item in future town budgets.

At the same time, the Bixby this year is increasing its charitable ballot requests in each community to reflect a per-citizen charge of $13.20, an amount its officials said is below the state average for library support. In Ferrisburgh, the Bixby is requesting $35,072, up from $29,000.

As for elective offices, selectboard incumbents Jim Warden and Sally Torrey both opted to run again, for three and two years, respectively; they are unopposed. 

Also unopposed are VUHS director Laurie Gutowski and three FCS board members: David Tatlock, Karen Beebe and Cheryl Carlson.

Ferrisburgh is allotted four seats on the proposed ANwSU unified board. Gutowski filed for one, FCS director Kurt Haigis is seeking another, and former FCS board member Adela Langrock filed for a third.

The fourth seat is now going begging. An appointee would fill that term if no one mounts a successful write-in campaign — unless, of course, the ANwSU unification measure fails and makes the board a moot point.

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Goshen

GOSHEN — Next Monday and Tuesday, Goshen voters will decide on a decrease in town spending for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The selectboard has put forward a combined town and road spending plan of $245,180, which represents a 1.26 percent decrease from last year’s budget of $280,632.

Additional items on the ballot include a $3,000 request for funding to the new Goshen Volunteer Fire Department, a group that has formed over the course of the past year. The department is not currently affiliated with the town, and the Brandon Fire Department covers Goshen.

Since the warning was posted, however, one of the town plow trucks was totaled, and town residents at Monday’s meeting will vote on whether or not to bring up truck replacement as an item for discussion.

Other topics that voters will examine at the meeting are the possibility of funding energy retrofits for the town office building, the purchase of a road grader, and the purchase of a truck to be used for garbage and recycling pickup and miscellaneous town needs. If townspeople decides to fund any of these projects, the town could use money from timber sales on town forest land.

Voters will also see a number of town seats come up for election, but the only contested position is that of first constable. Incumbent Shawn Martin will square off against Will Mathis for that seat.

The town meeting and school district meeting will take place at the Goshen Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28, preceded by a potluck. Australian ballot voting will run from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. the following day, Tuesday, March 1.

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Granville

GRANVILLE — Residents of Granville will be asked to foot a small increase in town spending and a small increase in school spending at the annual town meeting, which will convene at town hall on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Selectmen have proposed total town spending of $277,616 for 2011-2012, which represents an increase of $15,552, or almost 6 percent from the current year.

The official town warning asks voters to consider $172,816 in town spending, but Town Clerk Kathy Werner said that figure only represents proposed general fund spending. The selectboard proposed $104,800 in highway spending for the coming fiscal year. Although that figure doesn’t appear on the warning, Werner said the change could be made from the floor at town meeting because the spending is not decided by Australian ballot.

Voters will also be asked to OK $66,000 for Municipal Offices Capital Investment Fund to pay for renovations to the old school as home to the town office. Werner said she expects to start moving into the renovated space at the end of next week.

Residents will also field a request for an additional $13,000 for culvert replacement and gravel for class 3 highways.

Proposed school spending for 2011-2012 is $684,194, which represents a decrease of $24,347, or 3.4 percent, from the figure approved for this year.

At the school meeting residents will also be asked if they want to provide preschool tuition for three- and four-year-old children living in Granville.

Several town offices will be up for election from the floor of town meeting. Selectman John Pukulski’s term expires, and Werner said he will not run for re-election to the three-year-term. She said that Charles Needham said he would be throwing his hat into the ring for the spot.

Two school director spots are up for election. Bruce Hyde is expected to run for a spot that rounds out the last year of a three-year seat, and incumbent Asah Rowles is expected to try and claim her three-year seat.

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Hancock

HANCOCK — Next Tuesday, Hancock voters will assemble to vote on proposed school and town budgets that represent savings compared with last year’s spending plans.

The proposed town and road spending for the 2011-2012 fiscal year is $261,775, with an additional list of appropriations — such as $38,000 for Valley Rescue Squad — that would set town spending at a total of $308,408. Compared with the current year’s budget and appropriations, the proposed budget would represent a spending decrease of 14.5 percent.

Beside appropriations, voters will also decide what to do with the Hancock school building, which closed its doors to students in 2009. The two choices put forth in the town warning are to renovate the building for a town office and library or to sell the building at or above its appraised market value.

The town will also decide whether or not to remove a $3,000 budget item for the Building Maintenance Capital Fund for the upcoming year, and how to allocate the $44,735 that the town overpaid the school district during the fiscal year of 2008-2009.

The proposed school budget also represents a decrease from the current year’s spending plan, coming in at $664,305. That figure is 1.8 percent below the current $676,235.

A number of seats are opening up for election this Town Meeting Day, including three-year terms for a selectboard member, town clerk, town treasurer, lister, constable, auditor and road commissioner. Though these positions will be elected from the floor, Town Clerk Sarah Deering said current Selectman John Ross will be running to keep his seat.

The town and school meetings will take place on Tuesday, March 1, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Hancock Town Hall.

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Leicester

LEICESTER — Voters in Leicester at Monday’s town meeting will be asked to fill several key town offices and vote on a proposed town budget that is slightly higher than this year’s and proposed school budget that is slightly lower.

Leicester residents will gather at the Leicester Meeting House on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. for the annual town meeting and school district meeting. Australian ballot voting will take place at the town clerk’s office on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The proposed 2011-2012 town spending plan of $462,254 represents an increase of $13,313, or nearly 3 percent, above the current year’s budgeted spending. Selectmen are asking for $225,152 for the general fund and $237,102 for highway expenses. The total amount to be raised from taxes would be $380,904.

The school board has proposed spending for Leicester Central School in 2011-2012 of $1,003,842. That represents a decrease of $44,817, or 4.3 percent, compared to the current year’s spending.

Residents will also consider a proposal to set up a reserve fund for school facilities maintenance and deposit $10,000 in it.

Two selectboard members’ terms are expire and will be up for a vote — Diane Benware’s three-year term and Thomas Baker’s two-year term. Town Clerk Julie Delphia’s term expires, and a three-year renewal will be on the ballot. All are running uncontested for re-election. Two lister positions are also opening up, but no one has stepped up to fill those positions.

The term for school board chair Hannah Sessions also runs up on Town Meeting Day. Her seat and a vacant seat will be up for election — a two-year seat and a three-year seat. Sessions will be running for the three-year position, while Connie Carroll has placed her name in for the two-year term.

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Lincoln

LINCOLN — Residents in Lincoln will be in for a robust discussion during Town Meeting on Monday as a mixture of routine measures, board elections, a $2 million school bond and several articles are on the agenda.

Proposed general fund spending for Lincoln is set at $597,834 for fiscal year 2012 (July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012), which compares to the previous budget of $813,371 that covered an 18-month period — from Jan. 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011. Lincoln has shifted from a calendar year budget to a fiscal year budget starting with this budget cycle, so budget-to-budget comparisons for this year and the prior year are off by six months.

Proposed highway fund spending is $684,663 for fiscal year 2011-12, compared to $1,076,388 for the preceding18 months.

At the Lincoln Community School the budgets have been on a fiscal year cycle, so the comparison is apples-to-apples. This year’s proposed spending is $1,714,292 compared to $1,609,535 — a spending increase of $104,757 or about 6.5 percent. Part of that projected increase would help pay for interest on the proposed $2 million school renovation bond that will be voted on by Australian ballot on March 1.

The town meeting agenda starts at 6 p.m. at Burnham Hall with town business. After preliminary articles are approved, residents will discuss and vote on highway fund and general fund expenditures.

Article 7 seeks an increase in the town clerk’s salary from $21,890 to $26,754, an increase of $4,864 or about 22 percent. Town Clerk Sally Ober, who has been on the job for five years, says the increase is based on working longer hours. She currently is paid a salary based on a 27-hour workweek, but says she has put in an average of about 33 hours per week since she took the job. The increase in salary is based on working 33 hours — an increase of 22 percent in the workweek.

Ober says she’s not complaining that more work is being funneled through state channels to town clerks — such as electronic processing of liquor licenses, information for tax returns, absentee ballot data checks and many other items — just that it takes more time to get it all done and that time ought to be compensated on a par with what she was contracted to do five years ago.

Article 8 asks voters if they will increase “the disabled veteran’s (property tax) exemption amount from $10,000 of appraisal value to $40,000 of appraisal value” in accordance with a proposed state law to become effective April 1. Veterans have to be 50 percent disabled to qualify for the exemption.

The town meeting will recess after that vote and turn its attention to the school. After preliminary articles, residents will review and vote on the school budget. If that proposal is passed, residents are asked to vote on a second budget proposal in Article 4 asking for an additional $19,253 — spending that is over and above the inflation limit as set by the state as an attempt to cap school spending to inflationary levels. School board members at the Lincoln Community School are asking for the extra spending to help fund interest payments on the proposed school bond during the first few years of higher interest payments.

After that vote, the school meeting will be adjourned and residents will reconvene the town meeting and take up a host of other articles.

Those include:

•  Discussion on the draft Zoning and Subdivision Regulations as proposed by the Lincoln Planning Commission and accepted by the Lincoln selectboard on Jan. 18. A vote by Australian ballot will be held on Tuesday.

•  Votes to allocate $2,500 to the Lincoln Cemetery Association; $2,500 to the Lincoln Cooperative Preschool; $36,500 to support the Lincoln Library; $2,000 to support Lincoln Sports Inc.; $55,896 to support the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company; $4,000 to support the Bristol Rescue Squad; and a petition asking for $1,000 for WomenSafe; as well as $14,920 to support 15 other social service agencies.

Finally, in Article 19, Lincoln residents will debate whether to deny corporate personhood (or end a corporation’s right to be treated as a citizen, according to a recent controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations to give to political campaigns unrestricted funds) in the town.

Article 20 asks town residents to vote on requiring outdoor yard lights to be shielded from neighboring properties to reduce light pollution. Both articles 19 and 20 were petitioned.

There are no contested races in the various posts up for election. One change, however, is long-term Town Moderator David Marsters is not running for reelection. A replacement, as yet unknown, will be voted on.

To get the evening started, the Lincoln Library is hosting a chili dinner beginning at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 28, at Burnham Hall. Town meeting gets under way in the hall at 6 p.m. Australian ballot voting takes place on Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Burnham Hall.

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Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents at their town meeting will decide a contested race for the selectboard; vote on a town budget requiring a modest tax increase for the first time in three years; and cast ballots on a proposed $3 million bond to clear up a backlog of road improvement projects.

Middlebury town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28, in the municipal gym. Australian ballot voting will take place the following day, also at the gym, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The lone contested race features three candidates competing for two three-year terms on the selectboard. The candidates are incumbents Dean George and Craig Bingham, along with challenger Eric Murray.

The selectboard is pitching a 2011-2012 town budget of $8,265,365, which is up $132,155 compared to the current spending plan of $8,133,210. It’s a spending plan that would require a municipal tax increase of almost 2.5 cents, after two consecutive years of no increase in that rate.

Officials pointed to increasing employee health insurance premiums and a proposal to spend $25,000 toward a “marketing coordinator” position as among the reasons for the spending increase. The marketing coordinator would work in concert with the Better Middlebury Partnership to promote special events and create more of a buzz about the community as a destination for shoppers.

Town employees are forming a committee to weigh new health insurance options in light of a projected 17-percent increase in current premiums during the coming year.

The Town Meeting Day warning also includes a request for a 20-year, $3 million bond issue to take care of 17 different road improvement projects that might otherwise linger on the drawing board. Officials are not seeking to repay the bond issue through a new property tax increase. Rather, they are proposing to pay down the bond debt with funds Middlebury already budgets annually for capital improvements. The backlog of projects was created by town officials’ decision to apply a substantial portion of Middlebury’s water fund balance toward upgrades near the Cross Street Bridge project while the ground in that area was still ripped up by construction. This has meant that other projects had to be delayed.

The proposed bonded highway work, slated for the next four construction seasons, would involve paving, ditching — and in come cases sidewalk, curbing and drainage upgrades — to sections of Buttolph Drive, Rolling Acres, South Street, Painter Road, Grey Ledge, Stuart Lane, Juniper Lane, South Gorham Road, Creek Road, Quarry Road, Duane Court, School House Hill Road, Foote Street, Green Mountain Place, Seminary Street Extension and Seymour Street.

The proposed highway bond vote, if approved, will have to be affirmed in a subsequent vote in late March or early April. That’s because officials failed to meet a warning requirement for the Town Meeting Day vote.

Other articles on the town meeting agenda include:

•  A proposal to rescind one cent on the tax rate that is set aside each year to raise money for the town’s conservation fund. For the third year in a row, the Battell Trust has agreed to fund that amount through rental proceeds from the Chipman Hill telecommunications tower.

•  A request to borrow up to $226,400 over five years to replace some municipal equipment, including two police cruisers; a single-axle, medium-duty plow truck; and a rotary mower attachment.

•  A petitioned request for $5,000 to help fund the Addison County Humane Society.

The proposed 2011-2012 Mary Hogan Elementary School spending plan of $5,899,867, (a 2.22-percent increase) will not be up for a vote until April 13.

Running in uncontested elections are James Douglas, one year, as town moderator; Ann Webster, one year, as town clerk; Devin McLaughlin and Quinn Mecham for three-year terms on the UD-3 school board; and Serena Eddy-Moulton, Karen Lefkoe and Lorraine Gonzalez Morse for three-year terms on the Mary Hogan Elementary School board.

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Monkton

MONKTON — Residents of Monkton appear to have a short and sweet Town Meeting Day in store with no contested town elections, routine articles to approve and a town budget that reflects inflationary spending increases. Residents will meet at the Monkton Central School on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to discuss town business.

One noteworthy recognition, however, is that Carmelita C. Burritt will be passing to torch to a new town clerk. She has served as town clerk for the past 37 years, and as town and school treasurer for 28 years. This year’s town report was dedicated in her honor.

Monkton’s town budget (see page 40 of the Town Report) calls for proposed 2011-2012 spending as follows: $322,513 for salaries and general expenses; $676,996 in highway expenses; $59,000 for the Monkton Volunteer Fire Department; $20,269 for the Russell Memorial Library; $900 for the Monkton Museum and Historical Society; $3,000 for the town recreational fund; and $19,949 for social service agencies for a total of $1,102,628. That compares with total spending in those same categories in the prior budget year of $1,068,171. Adding in special funds and capital expenses, and the total budget expenditures for 2011 are proposed at $1,238,034, compared to $1,183,578 in 2010, a difference of $54,456 or a 4.6 percent increase.

Less non-local funding, the town is seeking voter approval in Article 6 of $1,082,679 for salaries and general expenses, highway funds, the fire department, library, museum and historical society and the recreation fund.

Article 7 asks voters to reassign $80,000 with the town’s Capital Project Funds to the Capital Equipment Fund from the Salt Shed Fund, a shell game of sorts that accomplishes shifting money into a fund that needs money from those that don’t with no added expense to taxpayers.

The Monkton town school budget calls for total spending of $2,328,997 in 2011-2012, with a separate article seeking approval for a $100,000 spending reserve fund. Proposed school spending is budgeted to go down $163,224 from the current year’s budget of $2,492,221, a drop of about 7 percent. Of that reduction, $119,000 is seen in a reduction in salaries.

The Monkton Town School annual meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Monkton Central School. The actual vote on the school budget will not be held until Tuesday, March 1, by Australian ballot. Polls open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the school.

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New Haven

NEW HAVEN — Residents will have only a few items to decide when they gather for their annual town meeting on Monday afternoon. But in Australian balloting the next day they’ll have several important money questions and one contested race for the town’s representative to the Mount Abraham Union High School board, in addition to deciding whether to adopt an updated town plan.

The biggest of the money questions will be whether to approve proposed 2011-2012 elementary school spending plan of $1,714,013, which represents a decrease of $180,928, or 9.5 percent, from the current year’s budget.

School board member Marie Jewett explained that the smaller spending number reflects declining enrollment that resulted in the board budget proposal reducing the amount of time for the “specials” like library and physical education, as well as cutting half of a teacher position.

Voters will also consider a proposed decrease in spending on the roads and increase in general fund spending. The proposed 2011 budget for road maintenance is $893,806, with $610,585 to be raised by taxes; that represents a decrease in spending of $193,725, but an increase in the amount raised by taxes of $61,831, or 11.3 percent.

Proposed general fund spending for 2011 is $662,815, with $387,840 raised from taxes; if OK’d that would be an increase of  nearly 21.5 percent in the amount raised from taxes.

Residents will be asked to authorize the selectboard to spend up to $50,000 using matching grants and Reserve Facilities Funds for energy efficiency improvements to the New Haven Town Hall, town Garage and fire station.

Voters will also weigh in on 21 articles requesting money for a variety of social service agencies and rescue squads, most of which range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

The only contested election will be for a three-year seat as New Haven’s member on the Mount Abe board of directors, where incumbent Lanny Smith will be challenged by former local school board member and former selectman Lowell Nottingham, who is not on the ballot but has promised a write-in campaign.

Another write-in candidate is Craig Bemis, who has said he will stand for the three-year seat on the Beeman school board that is being vacated by Kirsten Pitts, who chose not to run.

Charles Roy is running to replace the retiring Patrick Pawkett on the New Haven selectboard; it’s for a two-year term. Selectboard chair Pam Marsh is running unopposed for a three-year term on the selectboard.

New Haven residents will convene at the town hall on Monday at 4 p.m. for town meeting to handle five articles that, among other things, seek to set Oct. 3 as the due date for property taxes and ask if the name of the Computer Fund can be changed to the Computer/Office Equipment Fund. Discussion of Australian ballot articles will follow, and Australian ballot voting will take place on Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Orwell

ORWELL — Voters in the town of Orwell will be voting on a proposed increase in town spending this year, with much of the rise coming from legal fees related to town zoning.

Voters will consider combined town and road spending for 2011-2012 of $824,636 for the upcoming fiscal year, an 11.3 percent increase over last year’s budget of $740,862.

In a separate article, town residents will vote to pay legal fees of $128,316 following a number of law suits concerning town zoning ordinances. If passed, the town’s planned expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year will total $952,952.

Proposed school spending for 2011-2012 is $1,575,395 with no additional articles on the ballot, while last year’s budget was $1,727,785, including an additional $15,000 for a bus fund that is no longer in the Orwell budget. The coming year’s budget offers a decrease in spending of 7.4 percent, spurred on by the state’s encouragement to slim budgets as part of the Challenges for Change program.

The only contested Orwell race will be the post of school director, which pits current Orwell Village School board chair Glen Cousineau and challenger Bob Fields.

This year, the school meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m., with the town meeting the following morning, March 1, at 10 a.m. Australian ballot will begin on March 1 at 10 a.m. and end at 7 p.m.

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Panton

PANTON — Panton residents when they gather for town meeting on March 1 will fill one vacancy on the selectboard and decide on a proposed town spending plan that is $14,000 lower than a year ago.

Selectman John Viskup’s term expires, and word is he would accept a nomination for another stint from the floor of town meeting. That meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at Panton Town Hall. There residents will also select the town’s representative for the proposed Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board that would govern all four ANwSU schools.

Voting on Australian ballot articles — including ANwSU unification and Vergennes Union high and elementary school budgets — will run from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. at town hall.

Selectmen have proposed $614,817 of spending for the upcoming fiscal year, down $14,000 from this year’s total of $628,816.

The breakdown for that amount is $184,526 for general fund spending, and $430,291 for road spending.

Town Clerk Sue Torrey said although other line items rose and fell, the drop is largely due to selectmen cutting $15,000 from the line item devoted to town hall repairs, from $35,000 to $20,000.

At town meeting, residents will also decide whether to change how the town funds the Bixby Memorial Library. Currently, the Vergennes library requests money from Panton and the other towns it serves directly from voters as a charity at town meeting. Bixby officials have requested instead to be included as a line item in town budgets.

There are no major changes in Australian ballot charitable requests this year. The biggest increase comes from the Bixby board, which is asking for $9,002, up from $7,959. That amount equals a per capita figure of $13.20, the same per capita figure the Bixby is now requesting from all five communities it serves. It remains below the state average, officials said. 

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Ripton

RIPTON — Ripton residents will be given the choice at their town meeting of increasing the size of their selectboard from the current three to five members.

Ripton Town Clerk Sally Hoyler said the proposal to add two new selectboard members is being driven by a citizens’ petition. If the measure is approved, the town could wait until next year’s town meeting to add the two new members, or call a special election to take such action earlier. Initially, one of the new selectboard terms would be for two years while the other would be for a year, to allow for the two terms to be staggered.

The selectboard is proposing a highway spending plan of $386,550 for fiscal year 2012, up considerably from the $256,400 approved last year. But Hoyler stressed the budget includes an infusion of $175,000 in state grant money for road and bridge repairs.

Proposed general fund spending comes in at $285,241. That’s a great deal lower than the $474,868 approved last year. Hoyler noted last year’s general fund budget included an infusion of around $190,000 in grant money for a project aimed at keeping the Middlebury River within its banks in the Ripton village.

Ripton Elementary School directors have crafted a 2011-2012 budget of $722,946, which is 5.31-percent less than the current spending plan of $763,567.

Local voters will also be asked to earmark $31,000 for Ripton Fire and Rescue.

Those running in uncontested elections this year include Laurie Cox, selectboard, three years; Michael Hussey and Connie Trudeau for two years and three years, respectively, on the Ripton school board; and Jerry Shedd, three years, UD-3 school board.

Town meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28, in the Ripton Community House. Australian ballot voting will take place the following day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Ripton town office.

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Salisbury

SALISBURY — Salisbury’s town meeting next week will feature a two-person race for a two-year term on the selectboard. Ben Fuller and Stephen Parkes are vying for the position, being vacated by incumbent Jim Eagan.

Residents will vote on a 2011-2012 highway budget of $363,144, up from the $345,620 spending plan approved last year.

The general fund spending request comes in at $178,832, down from the $190,931 approved last year.

Salisbury voters will be asked to approved a 2011-2012 elementary school budget of $1,432,834, which is down 1 percent from this year’s spending plan of $1,447,257.

Also on the very brief warning is a resolution recognizing this year as the 250th birthday of Salisbury’s town charter, and a request for a combined total of $55,515 for the local fire department and various social service agency requests.

Running in uncontested elections are Sue Lewis, Gretchen Huestis and Brett Rubright for terms of two, two and three years, respectively, on the Salisbury Community School board; and Jack Beasley, selectboard, three years.

Town meeting will be held at on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Salisbury Community School.

Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the town offices.

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Shoreham

SHOREHAM — Town meeting in Shoreham will be headlined by a four-way race for two one-year terms on the selectboard.

Incumbents Paul Saenger and Marthe Fisher are joined by challengers Roberta Blodgett and Randy Strong in the race. The top two vote-getters will join the board with incumbent Selectman Robert Warren, who is unopposed for a three-year term.

Eric Remsen is running unopposed for the balance of a term vacated by incumbent Shoreham UD-3 school director Bill O’Neill (until March of 2012). Bruce Perlow is running unopposed for a two-year term on the local school board, while DeAnn Flagg is running a write-in campaign for a three-year vacancy as local school director.

Residents will be asked to support a new highway budget of $556,530, down slightly from last year’s approved spending plan of $559,670.

The town budget is being proposed at $233,756, up slightly from the current $227,756 spending plan.

Other articles on the warning seek:

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

•  Permission to transfer $234,500 in Newton Academy fire insurance money into the “new town office reserve fund.”

•  To place $20,000 of general fund balance into the reserve fund for highway equipment.

•  To place $6,500 of the general fund balance in the reserve fund for fire and rescue vehicles and equipment.

•  To place $5,000 of the general fund balance into the reserve fund for a townwide reappraisal.

Shoreham voters will be asked to approve an elementary school budget of $1,383,532, a 3.7-percent decrease compared to this year’s spending plan of $1,437,114.

Town meeting will be held at the Shoreham Elementary auditorium on Monday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. Australian balloting will be held the next day, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., at the local firehouse.

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Starksboro

STARKSBORO — Residents here will gather on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 9 a.m. at the Robinson Elementary School for their annual town meeting, which features relatively routine items and one contested race in the three-year term for the Mount Abraham Union High School board. The contested race is between incumbent Bonita Bedard and challenger David F. Gratton.

Proposed town spending is almost flat from a year ago, rising just $100. The selectboard’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 features spending of $496,170 (which includes the highway fund), compared to $496,070 the prior year. Proposed spending at Robinson Elementary School, on the other hand, is up about $13,000, from $2,283,673 last year to a proposed budget of $2,296,679 for the upcoming fiscal year, an increase of about 5.7 percent.

Among the major articles to be considered by voters are two provisions to buy road equipment. Article 8 asks voters to decide whether to approve purchasing a loader at $123,000 to replace the one the town bought in 1994. The trade-in value or sale of the current loader is figured into the total sum. Article 9 asks voters to approve the purchase of a tandem dump truck for about $156,000 after trade-in or sale of the current truck, which was purchased in 2003.

Other articles Starksboro residents will discuss and decide on whether to fund include: $27,896 for the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund; $77,173 for the Road Equipment Reserve Fund; $1,000 for the Reappraisal Reserve Fund; $23,345 for the Starksboro Public Library.

Residents will also discuss and vote on whether to fund one-fifth of the purchase price of six solar trackers currently installed at 101 Parsonage Road in the amount of $11,160. The issue is under Article 10 and adds this caveat: “In the event the voters of the town decide not to purchase the solar trackers at the end of the Power Purchase Agreement in 2015, the selectboard will use any money collected for the purchase to offset future budgets.”

After voting on Article 10, the meeting will recess and the town school district meeting will convene to address three articles directly pertaining to the budget and establishing a reserve fund of $100,000 for the school district, which is a routine matter.

Following those votes, the meeting will adjourn and the town meeting will reconvene to address several more articles, primarily dealing with the financing special appeals, which include:

•  $29,425 in special in-town requests, including $20,000 for the Starksboro Volunteer Fire Department; $425 for Robinson After School Youth Program; $2,500 for the Starksboro Sports Program; $2,000 for the Starksboro First Response; $500 for Project Read; and $4,000 for the Starksboro Cooperative Preschool.

•  Article 12 asks voters to approve $21,598 dispersed to 25 out-of-town agencies and social services; and Article 13 requests $6,000 to help fund the Sentinel Farms Arts, Agriculture & Equine Scholarship Fund for fiscal year 2011-2012.

In non-monetary issues, Article 14 asks voters to decide whether to allow the town to avoid mailing the town reports to every household in the town and instead provide notice that the town report is available for any town residents who requests a copy.

The meeting is expected to last past lunch, which will be hosted by the Four Winds Program as a benefit fund-raiser. This year’s town report is dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Starksboro Volunteer Fire Department. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for votes by Australian ballot on Tuesday, March 1, at Robinson Elementary School.

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Vergennes

VERGENNES — Residents of Vergennes will weigh in by Australian ballot on Tuesday on lower Vergennes Union high and elementary school spending and on the proposal to govern the four Addison Northwest Supervisory Union schools under one board.

There are no contested races for office in the Little City, and aldermen set annual spending in June for the next fiscal year. Vergennes will hold its annual city meeting on Monday at 7:30 p.m. to discuss city business.

That discussion may include whether to renew the tax-exempt status for property owned by the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad and the Vergennes Masonic Association Inc. on Panton Road and School Street, respectively. Those questions are on Tuesday’s Australian ballot.

Tuesday’s balloting will run from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the city fire station. It will also include a VUES proposal for a $3.89 million budget that would lower spending by 0.1 percent, and an $8.8 million VUHS plan that would drop spending from its current level by 1.06 percent.

There will be a new member of the Vergennes city council to replace two-term incumbent Christine Collette, who opted to step down to spend time with her four grandchildren.

 Filing for the seat Collette vacated was Peter Garon, who ran for the council in both 2007 and 2008. Garon came up short both times, but amassing a respectable vote total of 384 in the latter year.

As well as Collette’s term, those of Mayor Michael Daniels and aldermen Randall Ouellette and Joe Klopfenstein are also expiring. All three decided to seek another two-year term and will run unopposed.

On the school board front in Vergennes, incumbent VUHS director Christopher Cousino is seeking another three years, and incumbent VUES directors Tara Brooks and Carla Mayo filed for three and two years, respectively.

Vergennes is allotted four seats on the ANwSU unified union board that would be created if all five union towns back unification. Filing papers to run for the Vergennes seats were VUHS director Neil Kamman, VUES director Cheryl Brinkman, Cousino and Brooks.

If that board is created, the VUHS and VUES boards will operate until June 2012, and then disband.  

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Waltham

WALTHAM — Waltham residents will look at essentially level town spending and fill three board positions when they gather for town meeting.

That meeting begins on Monday at 6 p.m. at Waltham’s town hall. Australian balloting on Addison Northwest Supervisory Union unification and on lower Vergennes Union high and elementary school spending will take place on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., also at town hall.

At the Monday gathering, residents will handle two vacancies: The terms of Selectman David Kayhart and VUES board member Katherine Martin expire. The third decision to be made from the floor will be choosing Waltham’s representative on the proposed ANwSU Unified Union board, which will come into existence only if residents in all five union towns back the measure.

Selectmen have proposed $226,842 of spending for the upcoming fiscal year, an amount just $1,500 higher than current spending. Residents will also handle that budget decision from the floor.

The spending proposal breaks down to $71,042 for town office spending, and $155,800 for roads.

At town meeting, residents will also decide whether to change how the town funds the Bixby Memorial Library. Currently, the Vergennes library requests money from Waltham and the other towns it serves directly from voters as a charity at town meeting. Bixby officials have requested instead to be included as a line item in town budgets.

At the same time, the Bixby this year is increasing its charitable ballot requests in each community to reflect a per-citizen charge of $13.20, an amount its officials said is below the state average for library support. In Waltham, the Bixby is asking for $6,323, up from $4,278. 

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Weybridge

WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge voters can expect a low-key town meeting this year, with no contested elections and budget requests that are close to the levels approved last year.

The selectboard is proposing a highway budget of $328,200, up from the $318,800 approved last year. Weybridge Town Clerk Karen Brisson said the increase is largely due to increased gravel and insurance costs.

The proposed general fund request comes in at $87,303, slightly higher than last year’s spending plan of $85,250.

Weybridge voters will decide a 2011-2012 elementary school spending plan of $1,135,495, representing a 6.4-percent reduction from this year’s budget of $1,213,063.

Other requests on the ballot include:

•  $19,000 for the local fire department.

•  $13,500 to continue the town-sponsored volunteer recycling program for the ensuing year.

•  $60,000 for repaving approximately a half mile of the town highways. This is to catch up on a backlog of paving. The location of the half-mile stretch has yet to be determined.

There will be no contested local election in Weybridge this year. Selectmen Steve Smith and A.J. Piper are seeking new terms of three years and two years, respectively. Incumbents Michele Bayliss and Eric Bowdish are seeking terms of two years and three years, respectively, on the local school board.

Town meeting will be held at Weybridge Elementary School at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28. 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 — Voters in the town of Whiting will gather this Tuesday, March 1, to discuss proposed town and school budgets, and to make a number of decisions on issues that have arisen over the past year.

The tentative town spending plan of $335,015 for the 2011-2012 fiscal year represents an increase of 16 percent over the current year’s budgeted $289,897 in spending, though the amount to be raised from taxes would fall from $195,947 to $188,976.

Town Clerk Grace Simonds said that there are a number of small items to discuss at the town meeting, but the biggest issue will be what to do with the town library. The building recently had its roof replaced but is still in need of repair, and it is located on a lot with no parking. There are a number of options available to the town, including moving the building or deciding not to use it.

Selectman Steve Quenneville’s three-year term on the board will be up for election, as will two lister positions, the position of town clerk and treasurer, an auditor position and three library trustee positions. These seats will be elected from the floor.

Whiting residents next week will also decide on a proposed school spending plan of $505,408 for the coming fiscal year, a decrease of 0.2 percent from the current year budget of $506,318.

Two seats on the Whiting Elementary School board will be up for election, those of Carol Brigham and Cindy Crawford. Ellen Kurrelmeyer’s spot as Whiting representative for the Otter Valley Union High School board is also up for election.

Town voters will assemble at the Whiting Town Hall at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday for the school meeting, followed immediately by the town meeting.

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