Bristol OKs spending increase

BRISTOL — This year’s Town Meeting Day featured a two-way race for selectboard, a four-way race for school board and the Bristol police budget — a line item that was voted onto the Town Meeting Day agenda earlier this year. But first the town assembled on Monday to discuss a 5.96 percent increase in the amount to be raised by taxes for next year’s municipal spending plan.
Despite vocal opposition to elevated municipal spending leading up to Bristol’s town meeting, 138 townspeople overwhelmingly approved the $2,099,246 town spending plan on Monday. Of that amount, $1,717,446 will be raised by property taxes, which represents a $96,647, or 5.96 percent, increase from this year.
The bulk of that increase stems from a $37,180 bond payment for the 2010 storm-water project on North Street, a $10,000 increase in the amount to be paid to a new auditor and $5,000 for general election costs like printing ballots and voting machines.
As part of that municipal spending plan, voters approved general fund expenditures, which reflect a 5.27 percent, or $25,310, increase in the amount to be raised by taxes, and a highway spending plan, featuring a 7.17 percent, or $45,123, increase in the amount raised by taxes.
All articles on Monday’s agenda passed and two were amended. Selectman Peeker Heffernan called for a $10,000 increase in the amount townspeople would permit the selectboard to allocate from the town’s capital equipment fund for a new dump truck with winter equipment. Voters obliged, and approved $125,000 — up from $115,000 on the agenda — for the new truck. Townspeople also agreed to add the Open Door Clinic to the town’s list of organizations that will receive appropriations. The clinic requested $1,000 in Bristol support and that raised the total appropriation amount to $83,550 from $82,550.
On Town Meeting Day, via Australian ballot, 753 townspeople voted to:
•  Re-elect incumbent selectboard member Sharon Compagna over Tim Heffernan by a margin of 466-221.
•  Elect Chris Scrodin and Sheryl Thurber for one-year seats on the Bristol Elementary board.
•  Elect incumbent Selectboard Chair Joel Bouvier, who ran uncontested for a three-year term for selectboard.
•  Approve a $4,559,439 Bristol Elementary spending plan for next year, up $190,285, or 4.4 percent, from this year, by a margin of 450-266.
•  Approve a 2012-2013 Bristol Police Department spending plan of $343,728, which marks a $404,628, or 3.2 percent, increase in the amount to be raised by taxes. The Bristol police budget just squeaked by, 196-189.
•  Approve a bond not to exceed $300,000 for upcoming construction on the South Street Bridge. Although the project will be paid for mostly by the state, Bristol is still required to cough up 10 percent of the project’s construction costs. Right now total project costs are estimated at $2,350,000, but town officials want padding in case costs go up.
In other news from town meeting and voting this year:
•  Voters approved an article that instructs the selectboard to urge Vermont’s state and federal lawmakers to propose a U.S. Constitutional amendment that states: “Money is not speech and that corporations … are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”
•  Since incumbent Mount Abraham Union High School board members Dick Merrill and Pam Jennings didn’t file papers to run for two open seats on the board, and neither did anyone else, this year’s vote for those positions was via a write-in ballot. But in order to win a write-in contest, Town Clerk Therese Kirby explained that a write-in candidate must have at least 1 percent of the votes, or 27 votes this year. Since no candidate received that necessary 1 percent of the votes, this year’s contest will be decided by the Bristol Elementary School board, said Kirby.
• In the Republican primary, Mitt Romney won with 153 votes, Rick Santorum came in second with 98 and Ron Paul came in third with 80.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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