Town Meeting Results 2011
Below is our town-by-town wrapup of actions taken by Addison County 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 residents on Town Meeting Day decided three races for town office, approved higher town spending and a reduced Addison Central School budget, and, like other Addison Northwest Supervisory Union communities, backed the latest ANwSU unification initiative.
In a selectboard race featuring two long-serving town officials, veteran ACS board member Rob Hunt unseated multi-term Selectman Kimball Provencher, 182-136. In uncontested races, incumbent Steve Torrey won a two-year term on the selectboard, and Lisa Davis one a one-year term.
Hunt also prevailed in another race, that for the ANwSU Unified Union board that will be created if the unification vote is not successfully petitioned. Hunt defeated unification critic Carol Kauffman, 210-111. Donald Jochum ran unopposed as Addison’s second representative on the UU board.
Kauffman also came up short in a second race, failing to unseat incumbent ACS board member Michele Kelly. Kelly prevailed, 192-125.
The pro-unification tally in Addison was 177-150, the slimmest margin in the five ANwSU towns.
Addison residents also backed school spending measures.
They approved, 223-105, a $1.71 million ACS budget calling for a 5 percent spending decrease.
An $8.8 million VUHS budget that called for a decrease of about 1 percent received backing of 201-125 in Addison. It passed easily overall.
Selectmen had proposed adding $66,915 to current spending for a total of $939,418 for the upcoming fiscal year.
Residents backed $305,920 for general fund spending, 217-83, and $633,498 for roads, 225-74.
This year, Addison residents approved $41,138 of charitable requests, up about $9,000. That included an $8,388 increase for the Bixby Library in Vergennes, up to $18,388. That amount is based on a per capita charge of $13.20, the same the Bixby requested from the other towns it serves.
Residents also backed a measure to let the selectboard determine the town’s future contributions to the Bixby, 154-131.
Residents also decided to donate $5,000 to help celebrate the opening of the new Lake Champlain bridge in conjunction with Addison’s 250th anniversary. That vote was 177-109.
Turnout for Tuesday’s vote was 33.5 percent.
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BRANDON — There was little intrigue in Brandon’s Town Meeting Day results, save for the success of Maria Ammatuna’s write-in campaign for Otter Valley Union High School Board and the re-election of selectboard chairman Richard Baker (see story, Page 1A).
Baker, the incumbent, was challenged by local attorney Jim Leary. Baker retained his seat by a final tally of 605-413.
Ammatuna garnered 259 votes to secure the two remaining years of a three-year term vacated by Christy Gahagan. Incumbent OV board members Peter Werner and Dick White were each re-elected to three-year terms. Devon Fuller was re-elected to the Neshobe School Board for a three-year term. A second seat on the board for two years remain vacant in the wake of Martha Thurston’s stepping down.
Incumbent Selectmen Ethan Swift and Devon Fuller each ran unopposed for re-election to one-year terms. Bill Dick got the nod from voters to continue as Brandon town clerk and treasurer for another three years, Bernie Carr is again the town and school moderator for the next year, and Dolores Furnari was re-elected to a three-year term as lister.
Brandon voters also approved the $3,100,872 town budget, $2,168,522 to be raised by taxes, by a vote of 597-397. The budget represents a 5.8 percent increase over the current year’s spending plan.
Notable 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.
The school spending plan of $4,780,237 was approved by a margin of 607-396. It represented a 4.7 percent increase in spending 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.
All of the appropriation requests to area non-profit organizations were approved.
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BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting decided some contested elections and narrowly passed their 2011-2012 elementary school budget.
Residents OK’d the elementary school spending plan of $1,329,218, (a 0.12-percent decrease) by a 168 to 162 tally.
Elected in contested races were incumbent Selectman Steve Huestis, who topped challenger Michael White, 215-99, for a two-year term; incumbent Town Clerk Valerie Bourgeois, who narrowly beat challenger Julie Howlett, 168-153, for one year; and incumbent first Constable Robert Anderson, who defeated challenger Rick Coursey, 240-67, for a one-year term.
Voters approved a town/highway budget of $1,078,178, up from this year’s spending plan of $868,135. The increase stemmed largely from culvert work on Lake Street, foundation repairs for the town offices, repairs for a transmission in a municipal road grader, and a planned celebration of the 250th birthday of the town charter.
In uncontested elections, incumbent Selectwoman Margaret Sunderland won a three-year term and Katherine Wagner bagged a three-year term on the local school board. A two-year vacancy on the local school board was snapped up by Brian Desforges, who ran a successful write-in campaign. Tim Howlett also won election as school moderator for one year as a write-in.
Other approved articles on the warning included:
• $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.
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BRISTOL — Bristol residents OK’d all the money items on their warning and decided three contested elections in town meeting voting.
Challenger Kris Perlee was the top vote-getter in a four-way race for two one-year terms on the Bristol Elementary School board. Perlee received 355 votes, followed by incumbent board member Karl Ginalski (328). Incumbent Elin Melchior finished just out of the running with 322 tallies, followed by R.E. “Dick” Merrill, with 230.
Longtime Selectman John “Peeker” Heffernan bested challenger John Moyers, 467-279, for a two-year term.
Incumbent Mount Abraham Union High School board member Gary Farnsworth garnered 319 votes en route to another three-year term, out-pacing Abby DeGraw (177 votes) and write-in candidate Justin Bouvier (159 tallies).
A crowd of more than 130 people on Monday passed, by voice vote, a local highway budget of $728,505 (up from $715,447) and a general fund spending plan of $680,452 (up from $605,280) for fiscal year 2011-2012.
Voters on Tuesday approved a 2011-2012 Bristol Elementary School budget of $4,369,147 by a 479 to 256 tally.
Other items endorsed by Bristol residents included:
• A Bristol Arts, Parks and Recreation Department budget of $200,160.
• A request to place a combined total of $152,500 in various reappraisal and capital reserve funds
• A proposal to place $10,000 into a Conservation Reserve Fund.
• An appropriation of $113,932 for the Lawrence Memorial Library budget.
• An appropriation of $23,000 for the Bristol Recreation Club Inc.
• A combined total of $70,400 in various human services agency requests.
Elected without opposition were Alan Huizenga, selectboard, three years; Therese Kirby, town clerk, town treasurer and delinquent tax collector, all for one year; Garland “Chico” Martin, local school director, three years; and Fred Baser, town moderator and school moderator, both for one year.
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CORNWALL — Cornwall voters at their town meeting decided a hotly contested race for planning commission and gave another reprieve to the historic Lavalley Store building.
The Cornwall selectboard had proposed spending $15,000 to arrange for the town-owned Lavalley Store building to be demolished or removed from its present site next to the town offices, and for the remnants to be recycled, repurposed or sold.
But town residents voted 73-53 by paper ballot to table the motion to demolish. The Cornwall Planning Commission will soon develop a town plan-related questionnaire through which residents will be asked what specific actions they would support in reclaiming the Lavalley Store or disposing of it.
Members of a citizens group that tried to raise funds to renovate the building were pleased with the reprieve granted at town meeting.
“I look forward to working with the planning commission and selectmen — sitting and newly elected — to find a creative solution to the challenging problem of the Lavalley house and store,” said resident Elizabeth Karnes Keefe, who was part of the Lavalley Store Committee. “The town report for 2010 says on the cover ‘Celebrating 250 years.’ It would have been a shame to ‘celebrate’ by tearing down one of our historic buildings — and with it the opportunity for a town center and the possibility of a store or other good use for Lavalley. We will see what the town ultimately decides, but it is clearly time for this to become a public, rather than a private, effort.”
Five people were vying for three three-year terms on the planning commission. Elected were Annie Wilson (137 votes), Jim Bolton (126 tallies) and James Duclos (124 votes). Eric Severy and Mark Cesario finished out of the running with 122 and 39 tallies, respectively.
Voters endorsed, by voice vote, a highway spending plan of $345,735; a general fund request that came in at $334,660; and a Bingham Memorial School Board spending plan of $1,299,806, down by 2.21 percent compared to this year’s spending plan.
In other action at town meeting, residents:
• Appropriated $59,700 to be transferred to the Cornwall Fire Department.
• Appropriated $3,000 for the Cornwall Free Public Library and $500 for Cornwall Little League.
• Designated 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 were granted terms of three years and two years, respectively, on the selectboard; incumbent Peter Conlon won another three-year term on the UD-3 school board; and Cindy Peet received a three-year term on the local school board. A two-year term on the local school board had no takers.
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FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh residents decided no contested races for office on Tuesday, but made significant financial decisions on the floor of town meeting and while casting ballots at Ferrisburgh Central School.
Town residents also joined other Addison Northwest Supervisory Union communities in backing the proposal to unify ANwSU governance under one 12-member board. In Ferrisburgh, the tally was 270-161.
Ferrisburgh residents backed proposed town spending, but only after tweaking selectmen’s initial $1,565,632 budget.
They added $1,600 to a line item supporting the town’s website, and also altered the selectboard’s proposal for a projected year-end fund balance of $187,533. The board had recommended placing all of it into a special fund to back construction of a new town highway shed, a move selectmen said would pay for more than half its cost.
Instead, residents backed a move to use $152,000 of that money for the shed, and the remainder to offset taxes.
Ferrisburgh residents also backed all $63,755 of charitable requests, including an increase of about $6,000 for the Bixby Library to $35,072.
They also supported allowing the selectboard to determine the town’s future levels of support for the Bixby, a measure backed from the floor of Tuesday’s meeting.
In Australian balloting on financial measures, residents supported:
• Buying a new $185,000 dump truck, with plowing equipment, by 265-165. Payment will be through a five-year bond.
• An $8.8 million VUHS budget that called for a decrease in spending of about 1 percent. The margin in Ferrisburgh was 270-160. The VUHS budget passed easily overall.
• An Ferrisburgh Central School budget of just under $3.05 million, by a 280-152 tally. That plan will lower spending by $643.
There were no contested races, and town officials elected not to count votes.
Selectboard incumbents Jim Warden and Sally Torrey were returned to that board, as were VUHS board member Laurie Gutowski and three FCS board members, David Tatlock, Karen Beebe and Cheryl Carlson to those panels.
Ferrisburgh is allotted four seats on the ANwSU Unified Union board. Gutowski, FCS director Kurt Haigis and former FCS board member Adela Langrock were elected. No one filed for the fourth seat; if the unification vote is not successfully petitioned, selectmen will appoint a fourth member.
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GOSHEN — Goshen residents on Monday evening approved their town spending plan of $245,180 by voice vote during a lively town meeting that lasted close to four hours.
Town residents voted down a request of $3,000 for the Goshen Volunteer Fire Company, which was founded last year. While the town pays Brandon’s fire department for coverage, the Goshen fire department is a private nonprofit founded in 2010, and not affiliated with the town. Firefighters asked for the funding to defray its startup costs. The vote tally came out to 16 in favor of the request and 72 against.
Residents approved all other finance requests from outside agencies for a total of $1,000.
Voters also opted 49 to 39 for the selectboard’s proposal to credit a sum of no more than $9,000 each year for a maximum of five years in order to purchase a town truck for general uses, including garbage and recycling pickup.
And Goshen residents passed a resolution to use interest from the town’s forest timber sale account toward energy efficiency measures for the town office or toward the purchase of a grader for the town.
Despite the meeting’s length, however, one important issue that wasn’t discussed was replacing a town plow truck. After the meeting warning was posted, one of the town plow trucks was totaled in an accident; and while it was too late to add an article to the town warning for the purchase of a new truck, the selectboard had hoped to discuss the issue.
But, Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon explained, two-thirds of the residents at a town meeting must agree to bring up for discussion an item not on the warning needs. Selectmen could not secure agreement from two-thirds of those present to bring to the floor a discussion of a new town plow truck.
McKinnon said that there will likely be a separate meeting on the issue soon.
In an ongoing discussion about how the town appoints its constables, Goshen residents voted 52 to 26 for a measure to change town constables from elected to appointed officials. Since that measure looked to amend the town charter, however, it needed approval from two thirds of the voters, which it did not get. This is the second time the measure has failed.
Despite a number of town offices up for election, the only contested election was for the spot of first constable. Incumbent Shawn Martin pulled in 66 votes, while challenger Will Mathis, also a founder of the Goshen Volunteer Fire Company, received 11.
And while incumbent Selectman David Gale won re-election to his seat with 65 votes, Jeanne Meyer received 17 write-in votes for the position.
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GRANVILLE — With a turnout of around 50 at Tuesday evening’s town meeting, Granville voters approved their town and school budgets from the floor, but defeated an article that would have allotted $66,000 to a fund to pay for renovations to the old school as home to the town office.
Town Clerk Kathy Warner said that the voice vote was nearly unanimous against the measure to allocate money to a new Municipal Offices Capital Investment Fund. Instead, the selectboard will take out a long-term loan from the USDA for the fund.
The town budget was incorrectly warned without an included highway budget of $104,800, but voters approved a corrected town spending plan of $277,616 for 2011-2012, which represents an increase of $15,552, or almost 6 percent from the current year.
In a separate vote, Granville voters also approved an additional $13,000 for culvert replacement and gravel for class III highways, though they tabled a proposal to provide tuition for three- and four-year-old children living in Granville, postponing discussion until a later date.
And residents of the town also approved a school spending plan for 2011-2012 of $684,194, which represents a decrease of $24,347, or 3.4 percent, from the figure approved for the current year.
The town also elected officials from the floor. Charles Needham won a three-year spot on the town selectboard, filling retiring Selectman John Pukulski’s spot. Bruce Hyde was elected to finish out the last year of a vacant three-year school board seat, and incumbent Asah Rowles won re-election to her three-year spot on the school board.
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HANCOCK — With a turnout of around 60 town residents, Hancock voters on Tuesday morning approved the proposed town and school budgets, and elected some new faces to town positions.
Voters opted not to remove a $3,000 line item from the budget for the Building Maintenance Capital Fund, and passed the budget as warned.
General fund and road spending for the 2011-2012 fiscal year was approved at $261,775, with an additional list of appropriations — such as $38,000 for Valley Rescue Squad — that sets town spending at a total of $308,408. Compared with the current year’s budget and appropriations, the budget represents a spending decrease of 14.5 percent.
Hancock residents also approved a decreased school budget, which rings in at $664,305. That figure is 1.8 percent below the current $676,235.
From the floor, Hancock voters elected a new town clerk, Cathy Curtis, and elected James Leno to the one-year position of road commissioner. John Ross was re-elected to a three-year term on the selectboard, and Shelley Twitchell was elected to fill a vacant seat. She will finish out the remaining year on that term.
Meeting attendees also decided to create a savings account to store the $44,735 returned to the town after it overpaid the school district during the fiscal year of 2008-2009.
Town residents opted to do nothing on the issue of what to do with Hancock’s school building, which closed its doors to students in 2009. The town warning put forth two choices — to renovate the building for a new town office and libaray or to sell the building at or above its appraised market value. Voters tabled the decision for discussion at a later date.
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LEICESTER — Voters in the town of Leicester faced a short list of issues for town meeting this year, passing all town and school budget items and appropriation requests, and filling a number of unopposed town positions.
By voice vote, town residents on Monday evening approved the proposed 2011-2012 town spending plan of $462,254, which represents an increase of $13,313, or nearly 3 percent, above the current year’s budgeted spending. Selectmen asked for $225,152 for the general fund and $237,102 for highway expenses, and the total amount to be raised from taxes is $380,904.
Voters also approved the spending plan for Leicester Central School by Australian ballot. The 2011-2012 budget of $1,003,842, that passed by a tally of 85-64, represents a decrease of $44,817, or 4.3 percent, compared to the current year’s spending.
Voters also opted to place level-funded appropriations to outside organizations directly into the budget, rather than having each one listed as a separate items on future budgets. That measure will go into effect during next year’s budgeting process, and passed by a margin of 107 to 39.
Two empty lister positions were filled by write-in vote, with Jeff Lee receiving 34 votes for the one-year position and James Russo pulling in 27 votes for the three-year positions.
Selectboard chair Diane Benware and Selectman Thomas Baker were each re-elected to positions on the town selectboard, while Hannah Sessions reclaimed a three-year spot on the school board and Connie Carroll won a two-year term. Town Clerk Julie Delphia was also re-elected for three years. All were running unopposed.
The town also approved a measure to set up a reserve fund for school facilities maintenance and to deposit into it $10,000 of town funds to defray future costs.
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LINCOLN — Residents in the town of Lincoln showed a great deal of support for their local school, their town clerk and their elected town leaders in voting at town meeting Monday night and in Australian balloting on Tuesday. They endorsed a $2 million school construction bond, approved the proposed school budget, gave Town Clerk Sally Ober a pay raise, and gave a rousing send off to town Moderator David Marsters, who wrapped his 25th and final year holding the gavel.
In a watershed moment for the Lincoln Community School, 64 percent of voters on the Lincoln checklist turned out on Town Meeting Day to cast votes on a proposed $2 million bond to pay for renovations at the 57-year-old school. With a tally of 359 in favor and 274 against, Lincoln approved of the measure.
That followed an hours-long discussion at the annual school meeting the night before, when residents solidly backed the school board’s proposed 2011-2012 school spending plan. The total approved was $1,733,545, which represents an increase from the current year of $124,010, or 7.7 percent.
The budget required a two-part vote because per-pupil spending at the school last year exceeded the state average, and this year’s budget is greater than last year’s budget adjusted for inflation. The paper ballot vote on the lion’s share of the school budget was 156 in favor and 38 opposed.
Also at Monday’s town meeting, Lincoln voters OK’d the highway spending as proposed — $684,663 — and general fund spending as proposed — $597,834. Direct comparisons as to increases or decreases from previous years is difficult because 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.
One comparison that was clear was the salary for the Lincoln town clerk. Sally Ober said she has been paid for a 27-hour workweek, but has consistently put in 33 hours per week in order to get the work done, so she asked for a pay increase of $4,864, or about 22 percent, per year to $26,754. Henry Wilmer kicked off discussion on the issue Monday by moving to increase the clerk’s salary by $6,864 — $2,000 more than Ober had asked for. After some polite but pointed discussion, voters approved the larger raise in a close voice vote.
Most of the rest of the five-and-a-half-hour meeting was dispatched with relatively quickly with townspeople OKing a total of $119,316 to 21 agencies and groups, notably including $55,896 for the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Department and $36,500 for the Lincoln Library. Voters at town meeting also endorsed by voice vote a petitioned article asking Lincoln to “deny corporate personhood” and to encourage local property owners to shield outdoor lights from encroaching on neighbors.
In other Australian balloting, Lincoln adopted a change in zoning — 377 for and 166 against — that would change the minimum lot size for development, re-elected Selectman Elwin Isham to three more years on the board, elected Jennifer Oldham to a three-year term on the school board, and gave Ober another year as town clerk.
In a surprising race for a three-year-term on the Mount Abraham Union High School board, incumbent Heather Richards was re-elected with 301 votes, but Steve Alexander received 250 votes after he recently decided to run as a write-in candidate.
Lincoln residents showered Moderator Marsters with applause at the beginning and end of Monday’s meeting. Then on Tuesday they elected former selectman Will Sipsey as their new moderator for the coming year.
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MIDDLEBURY — Town residents re-elected Craig Bingham and Dean George to the selectboard and voted 467-158 in favor of a $3 million bond to clear up a backlog of road improvement projects.
The Mary Hogan Elementary School board race was a tight one—Lorraine Gonzalez Morse received 509 votes, Karen Lefkoe received 513, and Serena Eddy-Moulton received 556. The UD-3 school budget of $15,643,007, which is down more than 2 percent from last year, passed easily, and Devin McLaughlin and Quinn Mecham were elected to three-year terms on the UD-3 school board.
At town meeting, a 2011-2012 fiscal year budget of $8,265,365 was passed with little debate. It was up $132,155 from last year’s $8,133,210.
The bulk of the increase stems from soaring town employee health insurance premiums, $25,000 toward hiring a marketing coordinator, and a $71,720 increase in capital improvements. (See a more detailed explanation in a Page 1A story.)
Increased funds for capital improvements, among other projects, will go to:
• The “Downtown Program,” which will allocate $30,000 to sidewalks, $50,000 to roadwork, $15,000 to parks, and $5,000 to wireless.
• The municipal gym, which needs $10,000 for repairs and energy efficiency improvements.
The most hotly debated topics of the evening were the cessation of the Middlebury Global Warming Action Coalition (MAGWAC) and a petitioned request for $5,000 of funding for the Addison County Humane Society.
Town officials noted that MAGWAC responsibilities were absolved by other town departments and that there is a major push to improve town energy efficiency.
After long debate, $5,000 in Humane Society funding was approved. This funding will continue to be part of future budgets, unless amended.
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MONKTON — After almost four decades of service, Carmelita C. Burritt passed on the torch of town clerk to Sharon Gomez. Burritt served as town clerk for 37 years, and as town and school treasurer for 28 years. This year’s town report was dedicated in her honor.
Monkton OK’d the town budget as proposed. It calls for 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 $20,399 for social service agencies for a total of $1,103,078. That compares with total spending in those same categories in the prior budget year of $1,068,171.
Residents decided to give $450 to Addison County Reader Incorporated, affiliated with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This program provides a monthly free book for all registered children of Addison County ages one to five.
Adding in special funds and capital expenses, the total budget expenditures for 2011 are $1,238,484, compared to $1,183,578 in 2010, a difference of $54,906 or a 4.6 percent increase.
Voters reassigned $80,000 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 also OK’d the school budget, which calls for total spending of $2,328,997 in 2011-2012, with a separate article for a $100,000 spending reserve fund. School spending went 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.
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NEW HAVEN — At Monday’s town meeting and Australian balloting on Tuesday, New Haven residents voted to adopt a new town plan and approved proposed town and school budgets for the fiscal year of 2011-2012.
At the meeting, some town residents questioned the staff cuts that Beeman Elementary was making in order to lower the school’s budget. Officials explained that the cuts amounted to one half-time position.
Voters also brought up the contract negotiations between school boards and teachers in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, which nearly led to a teacher’s strike in January.
“We’re committed to a more direct communication,” said Marie Jewett, chair of the school board.
The following day, in Australian balloting, voters approved the school spending plan at $1,714,013, which represents a decrease of $180,928, or 9.5 percent, from the current year’s budget.
New Haven voters also approved a decrease in road maintenance spending, bringing total spending for the upcoming year to $893,806. Of that, $610,585 is to be raised by taxes. The budget represents a decrease in spending of $193,725, but an increase in the amount raised by taxes of $61,831, or 11.3 percent.
Voters approved an increase in general fund spending for 2011, bringing the total spending to $662,815 with $387,840 raised from taxes. The increased spending represents an increase of nearly 21.5 percent in the amount raised from taxes.
In smaller items, voters agreed unanimously by voice vote to set Oct. 3 as the due date for property taxes and to change the name of the town’s Computer Fund to Office Equipment Fund.
New Haven residents also adopted the Town Plan 274 to 140.
Voters elected write-in candidate Craig Bemis to the position of Beeman school director, and elected Charles Roy to replace the retiring Patrick Pawkett for a two-year term on the selectboard. Selectboard chair Pam Marsh was running unopposed for re-election to a three-year position on the board.
Former selectman Lowell Nottingham waged a write-in campaign against incumbent Mount Abraham school director Lanny Smith, who was also re-elected town moderator.
Nottingham at the town meeting emphasized his experience on town boards and his hopes for the position, if elected. Specifically, he spoke about the ANeSU contract negotiations.
“We’re a small town, and we need to sit directly across from our teachers, who are also our neighbors,” he said.
Smith said that the cost of a lawyer that the boards had hired to broker the negotiations had paid off — while teacher’s salaries amount to $19 million throughout the supervisory union, Smith said that the cost of a lawyer amounted to $280 per school.
The following day, by paper ballot, Nottingham netted 125 votes, while Smith pulled in 268.
Voters also opted 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, and approved an item to allow the school board to allocate surplus money to an emergency fund that would offset any unexpected charges in upcoming years — though during the school meeting, the board stated that the budget would likely not have surplus funds in at least the next couple of years.
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ORWELL — On Monday night and Tuesday morning, Orwell voters said “yes” to all items on their ballot, including budgets, and decided one contested and 16 uncontested races.
Voters also decided how to pay legal fees of $128,316 following a four-year town zoning suit that was wrapped up early this year. Town residents opted to take out a three-year note to pay the fees.
Voters also approved the combined town and road budgets of $824,636 for 2011-2012, an 11.3 percent increase over last year’s budget of $740,862.
A proposed school spending plan of $1,575,395 passed, 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.
In the only contested race, residents re-elected Glen Cousineau to a three-year position as town school director in his race against Bob Fields, 193-47.
Walker James was also re-elected to serve another three-year term on the selectboard.
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PANTON — Panton residents on Tuesday returned an incumbent to the selectboard, approved town spending that is $14,000 lower than a year ago, and joined other Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns in backing Vergennes Union High School spending and ANwSU unification.
In commingled balloting, Panton, Waltham and Vergennes voters also supported a proposed $3.89 million Vergennes Union Elementary School budget that will lower spending by 0.10 percent. The tally was 331-145.
From the floor of town meeting, residents returned incumbent John Viskup to the selectboard and backed that board’s proposal for $614,817 of spending for the upcoming fiscal year. That amount is 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. Lower spending on town hall repairs largely accounts for the decrease.
From the floor, residents also unanimously decided to allow selectmen to decide the town’s future annual appropriation for the Bixby Library. This year, they backed an increase in the Bixby’s charitable request from $7,959 to $9,002, part of their support for all such requests.
In Australian ballot voting, Panton backed the ANwSU Unified Union measure, 62-15. It passed in all five towns and will take effect unless petitioned.
Panton residents also favored the $8.8 million VUHS proposal, 49-27. That plan, which calls for a roughly 1 percent decrease, received solid backing in all five ANwSU towns.
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RIPTON — Ripton residents at their town meeting rejected a proposal to expand their selectboard to five members and elected to add $12,500 to their elementary school budget to save a position that had been slated for elimination.
The petitioned request to expand the selectboard from three to five members failed by a rather decisive voice vote after what was reported to be an interesting philosophical debate.
Residents agreed to add $12,500 to the 2011-2012 Ripton Elementary School budget of $722,946 (a 5.31-percent decrease) to help save an 80-percent paraprofessional position that had not made the cut in the original spending plan. Voters defeated a separate request to spend $10,000 in surplus funds for pre-school equipment to further support the paraprofessional position.
Voters supported the proposed highway budget of $386,550 and general fund spending plan of $285,241. Both budgets differed significantly from the prior year’s spending because of large state and federal grants for road and bridge repairs.
Local voters also agreed to earmark $31,100 for Ripton Fire and Rescue.
There were no contested elections this year. Elected without opposition this year were 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 board.
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SALISBURY — Salisbury residents on Tuesday picked Stephen Parkes over Ben Fuller, 97-51, in a race for a two-year term on the selectboard.
Fuller also earned 46 write-in votes for a three-year term won by incumbent Selectman Jack Beasley, 90-46.
Residents voted 123-20 in favor of a highway budget of $363,144 (up from $345,620), and 118-25 in support of a general fund budget request of $178,832 (down from $190,931 the prior year).
Salisbury residents supported, by voice vote, a 2011-2012 elementary school budget of $1,432,834, down 1 percent from this year’s spending plan of $1,447,257.
In other action, residents voted 103 to 41 in favor of allowing the selectboard to borrow money to cover any excess expense of the townwide reappraisal, if the reappraisal fund proves insufficient.
They also passed a resolution recognizing this year as the 250th birthday of Salisbury’s town charter, and approved a combined total of $55,515 for the local fire department and various social service agency requests.
Elected without opposition on Tuesday were Sue Lewis, Gretchen Huestis and Brett Rubright for terms of two, two and three years, respectively, on the Salisbury Community School board; and Wayne Smith, town moderator, one year.
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SHOREHAM – Shoreham residents returned incumbent selectboard members Paul Saenger and Marthe Fisher to office and approved all money items on their warning — including an extra financial boost for their local library.
Saenger and Fisher, with 183 and 140 tallies, respectively, prevailed in a four-way race for two one-year seats on the board. They out-polled challengers Roberta Blodgett (89 votes) and Randy Strong (73 tallies).
Voters amended an article seeking to transfer $234,500 in Newton Academy fire insurance money into the “new town office reserve fund.” They instead agreed to sink $90,000 of that sum into an expansion/renovation plan for the Platt Memorial Library, while putting the balance into the new town office reserve fund.
Residents supported a new highway budget of $556,530; a town budget of $233,756; and a 2011-2012 Shoreham Elementary School budget of $1,383,532, representing a 3.7-percent decrease compared to this year’s spending plan. The school budget passed by a 45-18 paper ballot vote.
The highway budget was down roughly $3,000 from the prior year, while the general fund budget was up $6,000.
Voters also supported requests:
• For $4,500 toward fireworks for the Shoreham Festival.
• 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.
Residents, by voice vote, rejected a proposal to adopt the school budget by Australian ballot.
Elected unopposed were Robert Warren, selectboard, three years; DeAnn Flagg, local school director, (write-in) two years; Bruce Perlow, local school director, two years; Eric Remsen, UD-3 director, one year.
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STARKSBORO — A good sized crowd of 290 Starksboro voters turned up to Robinson Elementary School on Tuesday night to reelect Bonita Bedard as Mount Abraham Union High School Director. She defeated challenger David F. Gratton, 161-109.
The proposed general fund budget of $496,170 for the fiscal year of 2011-2012 passed, which includes highway funds. That represents a mere $100 increase from last year’s budget.
Funding for Robinson Elementary School rose $13,000, from $2,283,673 last year to $2,296,679 for the upcoming fiscal year, an increase of about 5.7 percent.
Voters approved two provisions to buy road equipment:
1) Article 8 to purchase a loader for $127,000 to replace the one bought in 1994. The trade-in value or sale of the current loader is figured into the total sum.
2) Article 9 to purchase a tandem dump truck for $150,000 after trade-in or sale of the current truck, which was purchased in 2003.
Other articles Starksboro residents passed included: $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.
The town also voted to fund one-fifth of the purchase price of six solar trackers currently installed at 101 Parsonage Road in the amount of $11,160. Over a five-year period, the town seeks to gain ownership of these solar trackers. 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.”
A reserve fund of $100,000 for the school district was established, which is a routine matter.
Residents passed numerous 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.
• The dispersal of $21,598 to 25 out-of-town agencies and social services.
Town residents rejected Article 13, however, which requested $6,000 to help fund the Sentinel Farms Arts, Agriculture & Equine Scholarship Fund for fiscal year 2011-2012.
On the other hand, Article 14 passed, which allows the town to avoid mailing the town reports to every household in the town and instead provides notice that the town report is available for any residents who request a copy.
This year’s town report was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Starksboro Volunteer Fire Department.
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VERGENNES — Vergennes residents supported by Australian ballot on Tuesday lower spending at Vergennes Union high and elementary schools and the proposal to govern the four Addison Northwest Supervisory Union schools under one board.
In commingled balloting, Panton, Waltham and Vergennes voters backed a proposed $3.89 million Vergennes Union Elementary School budget that will lower spending by 0.10 percent. The tally was 331-145.
Vergennes residents also favored the $8.8 million VUHS proposal, 209-104. That plan, which calls for a roughly 1 percent decrease, received solid backing in all five ANwSU towns.
The plan to unify ANwSU under the governance of one 12-member board earned 191-124 support. It received backing in all five ANwSU communities and will take effect unless petitioned.
Residents also voted 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. VARS received 272-27 support, and the Masons were backed, 166-124.
There were no contested races. On the ballot for the city council, with their vote totals, were three incumbents — Mayor Michael Daniels (291), and aldermen Randy Ouellette (231) and Joe Klopfenstein (278) — and one newcomer to the council, Peter Garon (238). Garon replaces Christine Collette, who opted not to seek re-election.
On the school board front in Vergennes, returned to office were incumbent VUHS director Christopher Cousino (267) and incumbent VUES directors Tara Brooks (279) and Carla Mayo (273).
Vergennes is allotted four seats on the ANwSU Unified Union board. Running unopposed were VUHS director Neil Kamman (266), VUES director Cheryl Brinkman (254), Cousino (240) and Brooks (258).
Aldermen will set the city budget in June.
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WALTHAM — Waltham residents approved essentially level town spending and filled two board positions when they gathered for town meeting on Monday.
Residents returned Selectman David Kayhart to the board with a vote from the meeting floor, and also chose longtime Vergennes Union High School director Kristin Bristow as the town’s representative on the proposed 12-member Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board that will govern the four union schools.
The plan to unify ANwSU under the governance of one 12-member board earned 64-16 support in Waltham. It received backing in all five ANwSU communities and will take effect unless petitioned.
It was incorrectly reported based on information supplied to the Independentthat the term of Waltham’s Vergennes Union Elementary School director, Katherine Martin, would expire on Monday. Town officials said that was not the case.
In commingled balloting on Tuesday, Panton, Waltham and Vergennes voters backed a proposed $3.89 million VUES budget that will lower spending by 0.10 percent. The tally was 331-145.
Waltham residents also favored the $8.8 million VUHS spending proposal, 50-30. That plan, which calls for a roughly 1 percent decrease, received solid backing in all five ANwSU towns.
From the floor of Monday’s meeting, residents backed selectmen’s proposal for $226,842 of spending for the upcoming fiscal year, an amount just $1,500 higher than current spending.
That spending breaks down to $71,042 for town office spending, and $155,800 for roads.
Unlike other area towns, according to Town Clerk Mary Kinson, Waltham will continue to treat Bixby Library funding as a charitable request to be decided by town residents.
While approving this year’s requests, residents backed an increase in Waltham’s donation to the Bixby from $4,278 to $6,323.
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WEYBRIDGE – Weybridge voters passed all items on their town meeting agenda on Monday and Tuesday, even adding $1,000 to the general fund proposal.
Residents added the $1,000 to the $87,303 general fund budget for an upcoming 250th Weybridge birthday celebration. The amended spending plan passed by voice vote, as did the proposed highway budget of $328,200, a 3 percent increase over last year’s $318,800. The general fund budget was also up around 3 percent over the prior year’s spending of $85,250.
Weybridge voters also approved, again by voice vote, a 2011-2012 elementary school spending plan of $1,135,495, which represented a 6.4-percent reduction from this year’s budget of $1,213,063.
Also endorsed by voice vote were:
• $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 were no contested local elections in Weybridge this year. Selectmen Steve Smith and A.J. Piper were elected to terms of three years and two years, respectively. Incumbents Michele Bayliss and Eric Bowdish won terms of two years and three years, respectively, on the local school board.
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WHITING — During Whiting’s town meeting Tuesday evening, voters passed both the town and school budgets, also deciding to add an additional $5,000 to the proposed town budget to address their town library.
According to Town Clerk Grace Simonds, the meeting clocked in at just about two hours, and most of the time was spend discussing the library building. Ultimately, voters opted to add the $5,000 into the budget in order to fund a feasibility study on building options. The library, despite a roof replacement finished early this year, still needs some major repairs and has no area for a parking lot, so town officers have in the past considered moving the entire building to a new lot.
With that addition to the town budget, voters passed a spending plan of $340,015 for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. That represents an increase of 17.2 percent over the current year’s $289,897 spending plan.
The additional $5,000 that voters allocated for a library study is to come directly from taxes. Even so, the amount to be raised from taxes in the town will fall from $195,947 in the current year to $193,975.
Whiting voters also passed the 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.
Whiting residents elected officials from the floor. Del Win Fielder ended his tenure of 17 years as road commissioner, losing out to Paul Quesnel by a margin of two votes. The final tally in paper balloting was 29 to 31.
Town voters re-appointed Ellen Kurrelmeyer to her spot on the Otter Valley Union High School board, as well as to her positions of town and school moderator. Incumbent Steve Quenneville also reclaimed his spot on the selectboard, and Stacey Freeguard was re-elected as lister. Patricia Smith took up a new lister position, and Simonds won re-election for a three-year term as clerk.
Carol Brigham re-claimed her position on the town school board for three years, but eight-year school board veteran Cindy Crawford stepped down.
At the meeting, voters thanked Crawford for her years of service and elected Cady White to fill the open two-year position on the school board.
Town residents also gave a standing ovation to Whiting Elementary School Principal Donn Marcus, who is retiring at the end of this school year after three years in the position.
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