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Town Meeting Day previews for all Addison County towns

Town Meeting Day 2013 is right around the corner. Brush up on what’s on tap for each Addison County town in our town meeting previews.
Addison | Brandon | Bridport | Bristol | Cornwall | Ferrisburgh | Goshen | Granville 
Hancock | Leicester | Lincoln | Middlebury | Monkton | New Haven | Orwell | Panton | Ripton
Salisbury | Shoreham | Starksboro | Vergennes | Waltham | Weybridge | Whiting
 
Addison
ADDISON — Addison residents will gather at Addison Central School on Monday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss town and school business, but will make almost all their decisions when they cast ballots on March 5 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the nearby town clerk’s office.
Plenty of town officers’ terms will expire on March 5, but there are no contests to replace them: Selectboard incumbents Steven Torrey and Joy Pouliot are running unopposed for three- and two-year terms, respectively.
Also unopposed are two central school board candidates: George Lawrence for a three-year term and Tim Lindenmeyr for a two-year term.
Town Clerk Marilla Webb, who was appointed in January to replace longtime town clerk Jane Grace upon Grace’s retirement, is on the ballot for the first time — Webb is running unopposed for her position.
Residents will also weigh in on a town budget that features a lower spending figure.
The selectboard’s overall proposed municipal spending dropped from about $1.024 million, including charitable donations, for the current year to just under $1 million at $997,531 for the coming fiscal year.
That figure includes a hike in the highway budget of about $10,000 to $651,699, but the proposed general administration budget is down by about $33,000 to $324,841.
Addison in 2012 incurred extra salary expenses while Grace was ill. Grace, who retired at the end of December, is still working, but only on a part-time basis, Webb said.
One measure on the ballot could eventually add to the budget, however: Selectmen are proposing a $195,000 truck purchase that would be funded by a combination of a loan and the town equipment depreciation fund.
Also on the ballot is a question of whether the town should reverse a 2011 vote that moved the Bixby Memorial Library from a charitable organization supported by voters on Town Meeting Day to one that receives budget support as determined by the selectboard.
The selectboard placed that measure on the ballot after Bixby officials requested a significant increase this year. Selectboard members said they did not want to honor that request without public feedback. Bixby representatives said they planned to discuss the issue at the town’s annual meeting.
The proposed central school budget is also lower for the second straight year: The ACS board proposed a $1,161,042 plan that would drop spending from the current level by about $66,600.
The board also added a $20,000 capital improvement fund article. Such an article has been typical in past years.
The proposed spending plan will avoid the state penalties for high per-pupil spending that had added to some ACS budgets before the current academic year, officials said.
Two personnel changes account for most of the savings: Principal Wayne Howe’s expected move to become ANwSU’s part-time assistant superintendent, and a cutback in the hours of the ACS math interventionist.
Howe’s appointment as the ANwSU assistant superintendent, effective this summer, will reduce Howe’s role at ACS to a three-day-a-week responsibility — with resulting savings to the school’s budget.
Contracted raises and higher health insurance costs are driving spending up, and the board is also budgeting a raise for administrative assistant Suzie Hodsden, who will assume greater responsibilities when Howe is not onsite.
The ACS budget declined by $28,400 entering the current school year.
After several years of little or no increases, the Vergennes Union High School board proposed a 5.98 percent spending hike to about $9.5 million. A major increase in expected special education costs is driving spending higher, school officials said.
According to Addison Northwest Supervisory Union estimates, modified by Addison’s Common Level of Appraisal, passage of both school budgets could lead to a 7.1-cent increase in Addison’s school tax rate.
A 7.1-cent increase translates to $71 in higher taxes per $100,000 of assessed value, assuming that a resident is paying taxes based on the full value of a home. More than half of ANwSU residents received school tax prebates in the year for which data is most recently available.
Addison’s school tax rate dropped by about seven cents in 2012. 
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Brandon
BRANDON — Brandon voters will head to the Neshobe School gymnasium on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. to hear the selectboard’s presentation of its recommended municipal spending plan of $3,292,280 for fiscal year 2013-2014. The budget, which contains a 10.8 percent spending increase, will be voted by Australian ballot on March 5 at the Neshobe School. Appropriations will also be decided by Australian ballot.
Voters will also hear an explanation by the Brandon school board of the proposed 2013-14 school budget, a $5,250,118 spending plan with a 3.7 percent spending increase.
In addition to electing a new town and school moderator, other Brandon offices up for election include:
Brandon Selectman Devon Fuller is running for the three-year seat now occupied by Mitch Pearl, who is not running for re-election.
That leaves two, one-year terms on the selectboard. Selectman Ethan Swift is running for re-election, and two newcomers are vying for the remaining one-year seat: former police detective and member of the Brandon Recreations Committee June Kelly, and local architect and chair of the Downtown Brandon Alliance Design Committee Blaine Cliver.
On the Neshobe School board, incumbents Doug Whitney (two years) and Erin Gallivan (three years) are both running for re-election.
On the Otter Valley Union High School board, incumbent Brandon School Director Maria Ammatuna is running for re-election to a three-year term, but school board member Christy Gahagan is not. Kevin Thornton is running for Gahagan’s three-year seat.
No one has filed a petition to run for town and school moderator, as current moderator Bernie Carr announced that he will not seek re-election.
Lister Lillian Thompson is running for another three-year term, as is Trustee of Public Funds Sharron Kenney.
Gigi Corsones is running for re-election to the first constable seat, but is being challenged by Gerry McGraw. Dick Howland is running for second constable again. Corsones is also running for another term as grand juror.
Beth Carr is running for re-election to the Brandon Free Library Board of Trustees.
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Bridport
BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting will decide, among other things, a contested race for the selectboard and a substantially reduced general fund/highway budget.
The selectboard race features residents Edward Payne and Sue Walker, who will compete for a two-year term on the board. Incumbent Selectwoman Susan Stocker is unopposed in her bid for a three-year term.
Meanwhile, Chuck Welch, Suzanne Buck and Paul Plouffe are running unopposed for terms of one, two and three years, respectively, on the local school board.
Selectman Leonard Barrett is running unopposed for another three-year term as Bridport’s representative on the UD-3 school board.
Residents will decide a 2013-2014 general fund/highway budget of $1,270,164, down 26 percent from last year’s approved spending plan of $1,718,954. Selectman Leonard Barrett said the reduction is due to the recent retirement of several major capital projects involving the town offices, the Community/Masonic Hall and the Lake Street culvert.
Barrett said he hopes the savings on the municipal side will enhance the prospects for passage of the proposed 2013-2014 Bridport Central School budget of $1,452,750, representing a 9.13-percent bump ($121,555) in spending compared to this year. School officials note a large chunk of the increase is associated with a recently implemented pre-K program and special education costs. Officials stressed that the school will receive some state reimbursement for its anticipated special education expenses and some fund balance to carry forward that would have the effect of reducing Bridport Central’s net spending increase down to 4.2 percent.
Bridport Central’s proposed budget would result in a local homestead education property tax rate of $1.6557 per $100 in property value, representing a 6.65-percent increase compared to this year.
Other articles on the Bridport town meeting warning seek:
•  $12,500 to support the Bridport Fire Department.
•  $8,000 to support Town Line First Response.
•  $2,500 toward restoration of the “Hearse House” at the Congregational Church of Bridport. The church had been considered for demolition, but a group of citizens has done some fundraising for needed renovations and is looking for a local contribution to help complete the job.
•  $12,000 to buy a generator for the town’s emergency shelter at the Bridport Central School.
•  Various contributions to an assortment of Addison County nonprofits.
The annual meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 5, at 10 a.m. at the Bridport Community/Masonic Hall. Australian ballot voting will take place the same day and at the same location, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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Bristol
BRISTOL — Voters in Bristol will have a busy town meeting on Monday evening; the March 4 gathering gets under way at 7 p.m. in Holley Hall.
But many residents will be looking forward to Australian ballot voting on Tuesday between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Holley Hall when they will weigh in on a $375,000 bond to upgrade the fire department facility. The bond would allow the town to purchase the historic Duclos House at 2 Garfield St. and to fund a site design; if the first bond passes and the town goes ahead with the project, town officials say a second bond for around $2 million to complete construction on the site would be voted on in the 2014 General Election. A vote for the first firehouse bond signifies a commitment to complete the fire department upgrade on the North Street site, but town officials have stressed that a final design has not been set in stone.
Australian ballot voting on Tuesday also will feature voting on candidates for town offices and a vote on the police budget that asks residents of the village police district for a 6.4 percent spending increase to move the Bristol Police Department from its temporary South Street headquarters to a space in BristolWorks that would be outfitted to meet the department’s needs. The total police district spending plan up for vote totals $362,000, up from $343,728 last year.
John “Peeker” Heffernan, chair of the Bristol selectboard, is running unopposed for his two-year seat on the board. Selectwoman Carol Wells announced in December that she would not seek reelection; Brian Fox and John Moyers will vie for her three-year seat.
There will be no contested races for seats on the Mount Abraham Union High School and Bristol Elementary School boards. Doug DeWitt won’t seek re-election to his seat on the Mount Abe board. All of those on the ballot are incumbents, except where noted. They are:
•  Bob Donnis and Dick Merrill (not incumbent) for three-year seats on the Mount Abe board.
•  Amanda Fox, who was appointed to the Mount Abe board, a two-year seat.
•  Steve Barsalou for a three-year seat on the Bristol Elementary board.
•  Chris Scrodin and Sheryl Thurber for two one-year seats on the Bristol Elementary board.
Residents will discuss the proposed Bristol Elementary School budget on Monday evening, and cast votes on it on Tuesday. The school budget asks for spending of $4,847,510, which exceeds its Maximum Inflation Amount and triggers a two-step voting process according to state law.
The two-step voting means residents will vote on spending of $4,678,873, which is the total amount allowed without tripping the trigger. And they will also vote on $168,637, which is the balance of the amount of spending that school officials say is required to run the school next year.
Proposed spending reflects a 7.65 percent increase in education spending.
Proposed education spending per pupil would go from $12,914 to $14,308, which represents a 10.79 percent increase.
School officials said the increase was due to “unprecedented” 14 percent increase in health insurance costs. The school estimates it will lose eight pupils in the 2013-2014 year, despite the fact that its research projects that the kindergarten class size will increase in coming years. Bristol Elementary tallied 273 students as of last Oct. 1.
Finally on Tuesday will be Australian ballot voting on the proposed Mount Abe school spending plan for fiscal year 2013-14, which is set at $13,812,984. That is just short of a 2 percent increase.
If school budgets are approved as warned, the Bristol school tax rate for homeowners would be 69.81 cents per $100 in assessed value, the Mount Abe tax rate for homeowners would be 76.47 cents, for a total school tax rate for homeowners of $1.4628.
At town meeting on Monday night, residents will decide the town spending plans.
The proposed 2013-2014 fiscal year General Fund budget is $701,570, with $498,870 to be raised by taxes. The overall municipal spending increase is 1.1 percent, a figure that Town Administrator Bill Bryant has said the town “feels good” about bringing before voters.
Other notable line items include:
•  $240,958 in the Arts, Parks and Recreation Department budget with $160,608 to be raised by taxes.
•  Authorizing the selectboard to spend $35,000 for the purchase of a sidewalk tractor and winter equipment replacing a 1985 Kubota tractor. The expenditure would be charged to the Capital Equipment Reserve Fund.
•  The Bristol Recreation Department is asking for $13,000 to cover maintenance and improvements to the Bristol Recreation Field and to invest in future improvements.
•  The Highway Fund Operating Budget of $784,872, with $682,722 to be raised by taxes.
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Cornwall
CORNWALL — It will take two separate votes by Cornwall voters on March 4 to decide a total of $1,378,132 in spending for the Bingham Memorial School. State law requires the vote on this budget to be divided because the district’s spending per pupil last year was more than the statewide average; and this year’s proposed budget is greater than last year’s budget when adjusted for inflation.
As a consequence, Cornwall residents will first vote on a $1,355,963 portion of the spending plan, then vote on the $22,169 portion that exceeds the inflationary guideline prescribed by state law.
The Cornwall Elementary School board discussed the option of reducing the spending plan by $22,169 in order to avoid the second vote. But school directors ultimately held their ground on a total $1,378,132 budget that represents a 3-percent increase ($42,000) that is substantially attributable to projected bumps in salaries and health insurance costs.
If approved, the budget (and related Common Level of Appraisal factors) would have the effect of reducing the K-12 local homestead education property tax rate by 2.02 percent to a total of $1.50 per $100 in property value.
Voters will field a proposed general fund budget of $446,897, up from $353,201 endorsed by voters last year; that represents a 21 percent increase. The proposed general fund spending number reflects a $100,000 appropriation for future capital projects.
The highway budget comes in at $373,800, up from the $361,635 OK’d last year.
Other articles on Cornwall’s town meeting agenda seek:
•  $59,700 to be transferred to the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department to pay its expenses.
•  $5,000 to aid in the funding of a natural resources inventory as called for in the Cornwall Town Plan. This amount would supplement grant money received and enable the Conservation Commission to contract a consultant to begin the inventory and complete the initial stage of GIS analysis.
•  $500 to be transferred to the Cornwall Little League to help pay its expenses.
•  $4,000 to be transferred to the Cornwall Free Public Library to pay its expenses.
•  A combined total of $21,853 to help fund various Addison County nonprofit organizations that provide services to Cornwall residents.
•  Guidance from the voters regarding the town’s financial surplus of $74,745.71 from fiscal year 2012.
•  A vote on a non-binding, petitioned referendum opposing the proposed transport of tar sands oil through Vermont.
There will be no contested races on the ballot in Cornwall. Incumbent selectboard members Ben Wood and Abi Sessions are running for terms of two and three years, respectively. Kristianne Tolgyesi is unopposed for a two-year term on the Bingham School board. Tammy Denton will run for a three-year term on the school board vacated by the late Junius Calitri.
Cornwall’s annual meeting will be held at the Bingham Memorial School on Monday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Cornwall Town Hall.
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Ferrisburgh
FERRISBURGH — Residents of Addison County’s third-largest town will have a choice on Town Meeting Day that could unseat a 12-year veteran of its selectboard.
Ferrisburgh selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence is in Ferrisburgh’s only contested race: She is facing a challenge from Arabella Holzapfel, who in 2012 was a losing candidate for the district of the Vermont House that includes Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham.
Lawrence, a longtime town resident who for years has worked as the administrative assistant at Ferrisburgh Central School, was first elected to the Ferrisburgh selectboard in 2001. She has served as chairwoman for the past several years.
Holzapfel has twice run for the House as a Democrat, first in 2000 and then in 2012. Holzapfel came to Vermont in 1986 as a University of Vermont graduate student and has worked at the Middlebury College library for two decades. 
Lawrence and Holzapfel will each be seeking a three-year term.
The terms of two other Ferrisburgh selectboard members will also expire next week. Both are unopposed: Sally Danyow, who has served since 2005, and James Benoit, who was appointed in 2012 to fill a vacant seat.
Four terms on the Ferrisburgh Central School board are also expiring on Town Meeting Day, and one candidate for each opening filed petitions.
Incumbent Bill Clark is seeking two years, while two board members who were appointed last year to fill vacancies are seeking election for the first time, Katie Boyle for two years and Julie Gramling for three years. Newcomer Christopher Kayhart filed for the fourth opening, a one-year term.
All positions will be decided by Australian balloting on Town Meeting Day; the polls at Ferrisburgh Central School (FCS) will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Australian balloting will also decide the FCS budget. The FCS board has proposed a 2013-2014 plan that would maintain existing programs and increase school spending by 4.88 percent to $3,261,909.
The increase of almost $152,000 to current spending is largely being driven higher by contracted raises and the increase in health insurance costs. 
The budget does not include two separate spending votes, one to add $20,000 to the school’s capital improvement fund, and another to devote $10,000 to create a new fund to buy technology for FCS.
Voters will also weigh in on March 5 on the Vergennes Union High School budget. After several years of little or no increases, the VUHS board proposed a 5.98 percent hike to about $9.5 million. A major spike in expected special education costs is driving spending higher, school officials said.
According to Addison Northwest Supervisory Union estimates, modified by Ferrisburgh’s Common Level of Appraisal, passage of both of those school budgets could lead to an 8.28-cent increase in the town’s school tax rate.
A 8.28-cent increase translates to almost $83 in higher taxes per $100,000 of assessed value, assuming that a resident is paying taxes based on the full value of a home. More than half of ANwSU residents received school tax prebates in the year for which data is most recently available.
From the floor of town meeting, which will begin in the FCS gym at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, residents will decide on $1,656,618 of proposed town spending.
That includes about $367,600 for the administration/general government budget, roughly $762,000 for road maintenance, about $30,000 for charitable donations, and a little bit less than $500,000 combined for debt service, employee benefits and fire/police contracts.
The total is about $40,000 less than a year ago, with most of the savings overall due to the completion of a town-wide reappraisal of taxable real estate, town officials said. 
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Goshen
GOSHEN — Voters in tiny Goshen will have more contested races on Town Meeting Day than some much larger towns. While incumbent Selectman David McKinnon, Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon and Treasurer Vicki Whiting do not face challengers, three incumbents will.
First Constable Sean Martin faces Bruce Webster for his position. Webster is also challenging incumbent auditor Janet Bishop. Lister Laurie Lovell will square off against Jeannie Meyer.
Even with that activity, Goshen will be looking for a good write-in candidate for Neshobe School director. Incumbent Ramona Martin chose not to seek re-election.
Residents will decide on a proposed General Fund expenditure of $323,943 in fiscal year 2014, with $217,983 raised from taxes. That represents an increase of $8,627, or 2.7 percent, over town spending approved last year.
Two other money items up for a vote will be spending:
•  $5,581 from the interest earned on Goshen Town Forest timber sales to pay for town office renovations.
•  $5,000 from the Goshen Town Hall Renovation Fund for improvements to the town hall.
Rosemary McKinnon said work planned for the town hall this year includes adding insulation, taking care of some leaks, and generally “buttoning up.”
Goshen school directors did not warn a budget figure for the coming year. Instead, the three directors will bring estimated school costs to the school meeting Monday night and voters will decide on a number at that time. McKinnon pointed out that this year Goshen has only seven children attending school, but not long ago there were twice that many. For the sake of comparison, the Goshen school budget approved at last year’s town meeting was $202,845 with 16 students.
Residents will also vote on a measure that would pay school tuition only for students who go to Neshobe School in Brandon, not to other elementary schools.
Residents will also be asked if they want to designate Goshen as a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) District and authorize the selectboard to enter into an agreement with Efficiency Vermont to administer the PACE home energy improvements program on behalf of the town, and arrange for the provision of financing to participating property owners (provided that such financing does not require any indebtedness to be incurred by the town).
Town meeting is scheduled to get under way at 7 p.m. at Goshen Town Hall on Monday, March 4, with the school meeting to follow. Australian ballot voting is on Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the town hall.
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Granville
GRANVILLE — Granville residents have a big decision to make at town meeting next week on the future of ambulance coverage in the valley. Struggling Valley Rescue Squad Inc., which serves Granville, Hancock and Rochester, is asking for 25 percent more from each town. For Granville that would be $34,184.
But White River Valley Ambulance out of Bethel is offering service in Granville for $24,500.
Representatives from the agencies will make their case at town meeting. In Granville and Hancock, which both hold their meetings on Tuesday, the question may be moot if Rochester at its Monday town meeting decides to go with White River Valley Ambulance, because Valley Rescue may not be a viable business for only two towns.
Granville also shares another issue with other towns in the White River Valley — how to pay the bills that stacked up during cleanup from Tropical Storm Irene at the end of August 2011. Article 14 on the Granville town meeting warning asks if voters will “begin to repay the local match of the FEMA expenses in the amount of $20,000.” Town Clerk Kathy Werner said the total bill is nearer $80,000.
Keeping track of town expenditures and revenues has become a bigger job than amateur auditors can handle, some think. Article 5 on the Granville warning asks if voters will eliminate the office of town auditor. Werner said all three of the current auditors resigned and recommended that the town hire a professional.
The proposed town spending plan for 2013-2014 is pegged at $261,021, which represents a decrease of 9.6 percent from the $288,679 approved at last year’s town meeting.
Voters will consider a proposed 2013-2014 school spending plan of $530,217. This represents a decrease of 7.4 percent from the current year’s school budget of $572,861.
Selectboard member Cheryl Sargeant and school board director Trina Service will be up for re-election.
The Granville annual school meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Granville Town Hall on Tuesday, March 5, with the town meeting set to kick off at 6:30 p.m.
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Hancock
HANCOCK — As in Granville, voters in Hancock next week will be making a big decision on ambulance coverage. Struggling Valley Rescue Squad Inc., which serves Hancock, Granville and Rochester, is asking for 25 percent more from each town. For Hancock, that would be $44,166.
But White River Valley Ambulance out of Bethel is offering service in Hancock for $31,654.
Representatives from the agencies will make their case at town meeting. In Hancock and Granville, which both hold their meetings on Tuesday, the question may be moot if Rochester at its Monday town meeting decides to go with White River Valley Ambulance, because Valley Rescue may not be a viable business for two towns.
When Hancock residents gather for their town meeting at 10 a.m. at town hall they will also have other issues on the table, including a proposed municipal spending plan of $356,277, which is down from $391,703 OK’d last year — a 9 percent decrease. Town Clerk Sara Deering said town officials have tried to tighten the purse strings because there is still uncertainty about reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. FEMA has not said it will pay for some projects the town performed and the town is seeking reconsideration of a river riprap project to which FEMA denied funding.
The Hancock school spending plan is rising about $90,000 to $880,000. Deering said higher special education and tuition costs are driving the increase.
Town office elections will be carried out on the floor of town meeting. Among those vying to keep their jobs are Judy Olsen, who will be running for a three-year seat on the selectboard; Deering one year as town clerk and treasurer; and Jim Leno, one-year term as road commissioner.
Among the bigger amounts being requested from a raft of social service agencies is $2,460 for the Quin-Town Senior Center, $1,475 for the Visiting Nurse Alliance of VT/NH Inc., and $500 for the Park House.
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Leicester
LEICESTER — When they gather at the Leicester Meeting House for town meeting next Monday at 7 p.m., and at the polls the next day, residents of Leicester will elect two members of the selectboard, two school directors and a variety of other town officials, and consider a flat municipal budget and a school budget with a 6 percent increase in spending.
Incumbent selectboard members Diane Benware and Tom Barker are running for three- and two-year terms, respectively. School board members Michelle Pierpont and Connie Carroll are also running.
In fact, there are no contested races on the Leicester ballot, but the town is looking for a write-in candidate for lister.
The proposed municipal spending plan of $500,714 is divided up as $245,879 for general town expenses (with $206,264 to be raised by taxes) and $254,835 for highway expenses (with $172,429 to be raised by taxes).
Residents will also be asked, in Article 3 on the meeting warning, whether to spend an additional $20,000 on road paving. Town Clerk Julie Delphia said this item is a usual feature of the meeting.
Proposed municipal spending (not including the additional $20,000) is on par with the $501,290 approved at last year’s town meeting. In that budget about $10,000 less went to the general fund, and about $11,000 more went to the highway fund.
In Australian ballot voting at the town offices on Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., residents will not only vote for town officials, but also cast ballots on a proposed 2013-2014 school budget of $1,127,521. That represents an increase of $66,863, or 6.3 percent. School directors said that rising student enrollment at Leicester Central will mean a higher assessment of shared costs from the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union. Enrollment at the school was 60 two years ago, is 70 this year, and is expected to be 74 next year. They said that due to complex state funding formulas, Leicester won’t see the additional state funding to balance the rising number later in a two-to-three-year cycle.
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Lincoln
LINCOLN — Lincoln voters will consider adding an additional two members to its selectboard at their annual town meeting, which will take place in Burnham Hall on Monday, March 4, beginning at 6 p.m. The board would increase from three members to five.
Lincoln voters will also decide whether to authorize auditors to change the way that town reports are distributed. Instead of being mailed directly to each residence, voters would be notified by postcard that town reports were available for pick-up at specified locations.
Residents will also consider whether to authorize establishment of a Capital Equipment Reserve Fund for the highway department.
The major expenditure up for discussion and vote at town meeting are the Highway Fund and General Fun. The proposed Highway Fund expenditure is $863,740 of which $704,890 would be raised by taxes. That represents an increase of $149,871, or almost 21 percent, from the current year’s high budget of $713,869.
General Fund spending for the coming fiscal year is proposed at $324,812, of which $193,702 would be raised by taxes, $93,655 is surplus from the current year, and $37,455 would be raised by non-tax revenues.
Other noteworthy items to be decided at town meeting include:
•  Appropriating $55,896 to the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company.
•  Appropriating  $40,000 to the Lincoln Library.
At the annual school portion of Monday’s meeting, voters will also consider an annual budget for the Lincoln Community School of $1,903,271, up from $1,812,638 last year. The represents an increase in spending of $90,633, or 5 percent. They will also consider a Mount Abraham Union High School spending plan of  $13,812,984. That is just short of a 2 percent increase.
If the Lincoln Community and Mount Abe school budgets are passed as warned, the education tax rate for Lincoln homeowners is estimated at $1.4108 per $100 of assessed value of their property. That is 2.19 cents higher than the current year’s rate.
The Mount Abe budget vote will take place on Tuesday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., at Burnham Hall. Voters will elect town officials by Australian ballot. In the only contested race, incumbent Wilbert Clark will vie with Joshua Otey for first constable.
Also by Australian ballot on Tuesday, Lincoln voters will consider the proposed Mount Abe school spending plan for fiscal year 2013-14, which is set at $13,812,984. That is just short of a 2 percent increase.
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Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — A five-man race for three selectboard seats will add some extra punch to Middlebury’s Town Meeting Day agenda this year.
Incumbent Selectmen Nick Artim, Travis Forbes and Gary Baker are all running for re-election. Challengers Ted Davis and Eric Murray have joined the field to make it a race.
Davis, 60, currently serves as chairman of the Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) — a position he said he will resign should he be elected to the selectboard.
Murray, 51, is the owner of East Middlebury-based EJM Enterprises, a company that specializes in heavy equipment and truck repairs, as well as towing. He is a lifelong resident who has run for the selectboard before.
Artim, director of the Heritage Protection Group, was appointed to the board in November of 2009 to fill the remainder of a term vacated by Bill Perkins. Artim ran successfully for a three-year term in 2010. Forbes, vice president of Case Street Redi-Mix Inc., successfully ran as a write-in candidate in 2010. And former Middlebury DRB head Gary Baker, a local insurance professional, was elected to a one-year term on the board last year. That term was vacated by Janelle Ashley.
Barring write-in campaigns, there will be no other races featured on Middlebury’s Town Meeting Day ballot. In uncontested elections, Ruth Hardy, Billy Connelly and Jason Duquette-Hoffman are running for three-year terms on the Mary Hogan Elementary School board; Lorraine Gonzalez Morse is seeking another three-year term on the UD-3 school board; John Freidin is seeking a five-year term on the Ilsley Library Board of Trustees; and former Gov. James Douglas is running for another year as town moderator.
Residents will vote on a 2013-2014 municipal budget of $8,951,760, a proposed spending plan that would require an increase of around 4.5 cents in the town tax rate. The tax-rate bump is being lessened thanks to the fire department’s offer to forgo one penny of the 2 cents on the tax rate that is annually used to sweeten the department’s fire equipment replacement fund. Residents will be asked to endorse that cut through a separate article on the town meeting warning. The current municipal tax rate stands at 86.2 cents per $100 in property value.
The proposed increase in Middlebury’s municipal budget is being substantially driven by debt service on the already approved $4.625 million bond to substantially renovate and expand the fire department’s Seymour Street headquarters and replace the East Middlebury station. The first payment on that station will translate into 3.5 cents on next year’s municipal tax rate.
Other articles on the Middlebury town meeting warning seek:
•  Replacement of two police cruisers, one utility/sign truck and related equipment, a utility truck bed truck and related equipment, a backhoe, a roller attachment for a grader, and a laser grinder. Those equipment purchases would be made in accordance with the town’s replacement schedule, to be financed through a five-year loan of up to $330,000.
•  $7,000, through a petitioned article, to support the Otter Creek Child Center Inc.
•  Middlebury’s opposition to the proposed transport of tar sands oil across state lines, through a second petitioned, non-binding article.
Middlebury will not vote on its elementary school budget until April 10. The proposed 2013-2014 Mary Hogan Elementary School budget of $6,418,788 reflects a 4.46-percent increase in spending that would preserve current programs and beef up science, technology, engineering and math instruction.
Middlebury’s annual town meeting will be held on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. in the municipal gym. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., also at the municipal gym.
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Monkton
MONKTON — Monkton voters will gather at the Monkton Central School at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5, to weigh in on slight budget increases across the board, and to decide whether to adopt two significant bonds to improve municipal buildings.
The first bond would raise $1 million to fund construction of a new town hall and library on the 5-acre parcel of land on Monkton Ridge owned by the town. The bond would have a term of 20 years and, according to official estimates, would increase the property tax rate by no more than 5.25 cents. For every $100,000 of property value, homeowners’ taxes would increase by $52.50 annually. It does not cover what officials call “soft costs,” like insurance or furniture.
This bond is the third that the town has put before Monkton voters on this subject — the first two proposals, which had price tags of $1.5 million and $1.7 million, were rejected by voters.
Monkton voters will also decide whether to approve a separate $120,000 bond for an extension to the fire facility on States Prison Hollow Road.
Both municipal bonds will be voted on by Australian ballot; the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Town officials will also be elected through Australian ballot. There are no contested races this year. Stephen Pilcher will run uncontested for his two-year seat on the selectboard, Sharon Gomez is running uncontested for town clerk, Chuck Roumas will run uncontested for treasurer, and Roger Parker Jr. is running uncontested for the three-year seat on the selectboard being vacated by Peter Norris.
The proposed municipal spending plan for fiscal year 2013-14 is $1,205,632.45, up from $1,155,675.91 last year, an increase of 1.04 percent. Voters will not have to consider any increases for social service agencies this year — Gomez said the agencies are asking for the same amounts that they asked for last year.
The Monkton Central School budget is proposed at $2,318,823, which is up from $2,163,203 last year — a 0.93 percent increase.
At town meeting, Monkton voters will also be asked to consider authorizing the selectboard to establish a legal fund not to exceed $50,000, to cover legal representation for the town during Public Service Board proceedings with Vermont Gas Systems over the Addison Natural Gas Project pipeline.
A separate article asks voters to consider whether to advise the selectboard to not issue any road permits for any transmission pipeline path that follows town right-of-ways — and not to grant permission for the VGS pipeline to cross any town roads “until town residents’ concerns about safe setbacks are addressed.”
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New Haven
NEW HAVEN — New Haven voters will meet at the Town Hall on Monday, March 4, at 4 p.m. to discuss, among other things, whether to accept the auditor’s report for 2012, and whether to pay real estate taxes to the town treasurer by Oct. 1, with delinquent taxes subject to an 8 percent penalty. The big-ticket item is whether to eliminate the position of town auditor; Town Clerk Pam Kingman said that across the state, town auditors are expressing the belief that the job is too much for part-timers and that they could use help from outside professionals.
Most New Haven town business is completed by Australian ballot. So, on Tuesday, March 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., voters will elect town officials and decide whether to adopt town budgets, through Australian ballot voting.
There are no contested elections for town officers on the ballot. Selectboard incumbents Charlie Roy and Kathy Barrett will stand again for a two-year and three-year terms, respectively, on the board. Beeman School director Ed McGuire is running for a three-year term. Town Clerk Pam Kingman and Town Treasurer Barb Torian are on the ballot for three-year terms in their respective offices.
Proposed Road Fund expenditures are $1,276,629 for the coming year, up from $1,070,640 last year which is a 19.24 percent increase. Proposed General Fund spending is proposed at $653,006, essentially unchanged from $653,270 approved last year.
One new expense that New Haven voters will consider is the allocation of $150,000 from the existing Road Equipment Fund to replace the town’s 1996 International truck with a new truck that would have a plow, dump body and sander.
Beeman Elementary School is seeking voter approval to spend $1,888,456 this coming fiscal year, which is up from $1,820,499 last year, which represents a 3.7 percent increase.
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Orwell
ORWELL — Residents who go to the Orwell town and school meetings next Tuesday, beginning at 10 a.m. in the town hall, will entertain budget proposals that show few changes and uncontested elections for town offices.
The proposed municipal spending plan of $973,176 compares to the current year’s budgeted $1,098,865 in spending — that’s an 11 percent decrease. Town Clerk Susan Ann Arnebold said the town has put some big-ticket bills behind it — including litigation and road repairs — which accounts for the proposed drop in spending.
During the school portion of Tuesday’s meeting, voters will consider a proposed fiscal year 2014 school spending plan of $1,696,375, which represents a decrease of $15,310, or a fraction of a percent, from the current year’s spending plan of $1,711,685.
If residents approve the Orwell school and the Fair Haven Union High School budgets as proposed the homestead education tax rate in Orwell will go from $1.13 to $1.16, according to Laura Jakubowski, Addison Rutland Supervisory Union business manager. That means a resident with a home valued at $200,000 would see their school taxes rise $60, or possibly less if they qualify for tax relief.
Also on the warning for voter approval are spending of:
•  $44,882 for the sewer budget.
•  $1,800 for the 2013 the Orwell Parade Committee.
•  $12,500 for the operating expenses of the Ethan M. & Eliza T. Wright Memorial Library Building.
•  $2,350 to purchase books and materials by the Orwell Free Library.
•  $750 for the Sixty-Plus Club of Orwell.
There are no contested elections on the ballot. Incumbent Town Clerk Arnebold and Town Treasurer Mark Young are each up for one-year terms. Selectboard members Walker James and Carla Ochs are up for three- and two-year terms, respectively, on the selectboard.
Two school directors are seeking re-election: Alyson Audet Eastman for a three-year seat and Peter Ochs for a two-year.
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Panton
PANTON — Panton residents will make personnel and town finance decisions from the floor of their town meeting on March 5, and weigh in on proposed union school spending via Australian balloting on the same day.
From the floor of town meeting, which will begin at Panton Town Hall at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, residents will reportedly be choosing a new selectboard member. Selectman Bill Lanning’s term will expire, and Panton Town Clerk Jean Miller said Lanning does not plan to seek re-election. Nominations will be accepted from the floor
Vergennes Union Elementary School board member Karrie Beebe’s term is also up, and she will seek to retain her seat. Auditor Chris Cook planned to step down as an auditor in March, leaving an open seat there, and a position on the Panton board of listers remains open after a 2012 resignation. Nominations will be sought for those openings.
The selectboard is proposing one new wrinkle for town spending. One article asks residents to approve a “Highway Capital Project Fund” that would set aside money for future major road projects. In a separate article devoted to reserve funds, residents are asked to devote $20,000 to that new fund.
Also in the reserve fund article, the selectboard is seeking infusions of cash into five existing funds: $20,000 for the Highway Capital Equipment Fund, which will help Panton buy trucks, graders and the like in the future; $15,000 for the Town Hall Restoration Fund; $2,000 apiece for the Grader Tire Fund and the Digitization Fund, which will help pay to convert town record to digital form; and $1,000 to the Reappraisal Fund to help pay for future town-wide property assessments.
The selectboard is also proposing a general fund budget of $601,931. Miller said that figure is less than 2 percent higher than the 2012 proposal.
Voters will also look at $7,931 of charitable requests.
If all town spending is approved, the total will be $669,931, up by about $24,000 from 2012. The major difference would be the new highway project fund.
Voters will also be asked at the floor of town meeting to apply a $40,000 budget carryover from June of 2012 to the Highway Capital Equipment Fund.
Also on Tuesday, Panton residents will join other ANwSU voters in weighing in on proposed Vergennes Union High School and VUES budgets. Town hall will be open for Australian balloting from 8 a.m. until to 7 p.m.
After several years of little or no increases, the VUHS board proposed a 5.98 percent hike to about $9.5 million. A major increase in expected special education costs is driving spending higher, school officials said.
The VUES board is proposing to raise spending by 4.7 percent to $4,085,252.
That figure does not include an article that would devote $25,000 to the school’s capital improvement fund. The board added that article, which had been typical in past years. That increase, also driven in part by special education costs, followed years of modest spending hikes, including the current budget, which rose by $20,500, or 0.5 percent, from the year before.
According to ANwSU estimates, modified by Panton’s Common Level of Appraisal, passage of both union school budgets could lead a 9.21-cent increase in the town’s school tax rate.
A 9.21-cent increase translates to about $92 in higher taxes per $100,000 of assessed value, assuming that a resident is paying taxes based on the full value of a home. More than half of ANwSU residents received school tax prebates in the year for which data is most recently available.
ANwSU tax rates saw little or no increases in 2012. 
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Ripton
RIPTON — School-related decisions will dominate Ripton’s town meeting agenda this year.
Those decisions will include votes on two proposed 20-year bond issues — one to finance a new roof for the local elementary school, and the other to fund a series of solar panels that would be placed on the new structure.
School directors are seeking permission to spend up to $250,000 to install a new standing seam roof to replace the current one, which has exceeded its 20-year life expectancy and has occasionally sprung some leaks. Plans call for the district to take $100,000 from the school’s capital reserve fund to take the price tag down to $150,000.
If townspeople approve the new roof, the results of the second referendum — on whether to spend up to $207,400 on solar panels for the roof — will hold sway. Monkton-based Addison Renewable Energy would place 200 solar panels, covering roughly 3,500 square feet, on the south facing portion of the roof. The project would generate power to help reduce the school’s dependence on conventional electricity to operate lights, computers and other devices. The town would be able to reduce its payback on the project by $77,000, the amount of a grant through the state’s Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program. That grant money would bring the project cost down to $130,400.
Ripton Elementary School directors are pitching a 2013-14 spending plan of $808,931, a 4.33-percent increase ($33,571) compared to this year. Roughly $12,000 of that increase is related to expected salary increases, while health insurance costs are expected to rise 11.3 percent. The budget also reflects an increase in personnel to offset an anticipated maternity leave, as well as a substantial bump in transportation costs associated with a new bus that will bring in tuitioned students from Granville and Hancock. The tuition receipts are expected to more than make up for those extra transportation costs, officials said.
The tax-affecting portion of the school budget is expected to rise by 1.7 percent, producing a local homestead education property tax rate of $1.61 per $100 in property value.
Voters will also be asked to set aside $25,000 into an education reserve fund.
The Ripton selectboard is proposing a 2013 highway budget of  $294,679, down from the $353,350 approved last year. The decrease is associated with some extraordinary road repair costs that occurred last year as a result of Tropical Storm Irene and a May 29 storm.
The proposed general fund budget comes in at $266,637, down from the $270,711 OK’d last year.
Other articles on the Ripton town meeting warning seek:
•  $35,200 to help pay for Ripton fire and rescue services.
•  A combined total of $15,880 for various Addison County nonprofits that provide services to Addison County residents.
•  Support for a petitioned, advisory item opposing the transport of tar sands oil through Vermont.
There will be no contested local elections in Ripton this year. Incumbent Selectman Richard Collitt is unopposed for a three-year term.
Meanwhile, incumbent Ripton Elementary School board members Willem Jewett and Michael Hussey are not running for re-election. Resident Perry Hanson will run for a two-year term on the school board but the second vacancy will have to be filled through a write-in campaign or by appointment.
The annual meeting will be held on Monday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ripton Community House. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Ripton town office.
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Salisbury
SALISBURY — Salisbury voters this year will field a town meeting agenda that will include a two-person race for the selectboard and a proposed elementary school budget calling for a 7.82-percent spending increase.
Residents Tom Scanlon and Martha Sullivan will vie for a two-year term on the Salisbury selectboard. Meanwhile, incumbent Selectman Jonathan Blake is unopposed in his bid for a three-year term on the board.
Among other uncontested races in Salisbury, incumbent Salisbury School Board members Gretchen Huestis and John Nuceder are running for new terms of two and three years, respectively. Incumbent Laura Lass is seeking another three years representing Salisbury on the UD-3 school board.
Voters will decide a proposed 2013-2014 Salisbury Community School spending plan of $1,560,529, a bump of 7.82 percent ($113,210) compared to this year. The increase is largely related to salary and benefits increases, along with a one-time purchase of computer equipment for the school. Salisbury will be able to tap into a fund balance carried over from the previous year to help soften the financial impact of the new equipment.
Due to the Common Level of Appraisal ratio and other factors, the proposed budget is expected to produce a local homestead education property tax rate of $1.669 per $100 in property value, an increase of 12.43 percent.
The selectboard is proposing a general fund budget of $189,915, up from the $177,661 approved last year.
The proposed highway budget comes in at $390,878, down from the $405,972 endorsed by voters last year.
Residents will also be asked if they want to designate the town of Salisbury as a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) District and authorize the selectboard to enter into an agreement with Efficiency Vermont to administer the PACE home energy improvements program on behalf of the town, and arrange for the provision of financing to participating property owners (provided that such financing does not require any indebtedness to be incurred by the town).
Salisbury voters will also field a combined total of $66,235 to assist various Addison County nonprofit organizations that provide services to local residents.
The annual meeting will be held at the community school on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. 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 — Shoreham residents Howard Campbell and Colin Davis will vie for a two-year term on the Shoreham Planning Commission in the only race on the Shoreham Town Meeting ballot.
Four posts on the town selectboard will be in play on Town Meeting Day, though none of them are contested. Incumbent Selectman Stephen Goodrich is running for a three-year term, while fellow incumbents Paul Saenger and Sanford Witherell Jr. are seeking terms of one year each. And Mark Spitzner is unopposed in seeking the one year left on a term being vacated by Selectwoman Karen Shackett.
Incumbent Shoreham Elementary School board members Ben Cadoret and Bruce Perlow are unopposed for terms of three and two years, respectively. Michelle Patterson is seeking a one-year term on the panel.
The Shoreham selectboard is proposing a 2013-2014 highway budget of $613,114, representing a 7-percent increase compared to the current spending plan of $573,841. The increase in part reflects increased costs of road supplies, according to officials.
The general fund budget proposal comes in at $246,803, up 3 percent compared to this year’s spending plan of $240,257. That increase in part reflects some additional office equipment needs.
School directors in Shoreham are proposing a 2013-14 elementary school budget of $1,467,825, representing a 2.9-percent boost in spending compared to this year. Much of the $41,424 increase is associated with contracted bumps in salaries and benefits. School directors are proposing to use $52,000 in fund balance carried over from the prior year to reduce the impact of the spending plan.
The school budget would produce a local homestead education property tax rate of $1.57 per $100 in property value, representing a 3.62 percent increase compared to this year.
Other items on the Shoreham town meeting agenda seek:
•  $6,500 to be added to a reserve fund for rescue and fire department vehicles and equipment.
•  $30,000 for the purchase of a new pickup truck and plow, a figure to be reduced by the proceeds of the sale of a municipal Ford 550 truck.
•  $5,000 to be added to the reappraisal reserve fund.
•  $4,500 for the Shoreham Festival fireworks display.
•  A combined total of $18,955 for various Addison County nonprofits that provide services to Shoreham residents.
The annual meeting will be held at the elementary school auditorium beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 4. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the town firehouse. 
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Starksboro
STARKSBORO — Starksboro voters will gather at the Robinson Elementary School on Saturday, March 2, at 9 a.m. to discuss fairly routine town meeting issues and vote on budgets.
Town Clerk Cheryl Estey said that the town was asking for $502,329 in General Fund spending this year, which represents less than a $5,000 increase from last year. The Road Equipment Fund is asking for $86,590 compared to $82,085 last year, and the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund is asking for $30,328, just over $400 more than last year.
Townspeople will also decide whether Starksboro will become a Property Assessed Clean Energy town, entering an agreement with Efficiency Vermont to administrate the PACE program’s energy efficiency funding to Starksboro homeowners.
In Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, March 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., voters will elect town officers. This year there is only one contested race: the Library Board of Trustees has two three-year openings, which will go to two of three candidates on the ballot: Katie Antos-Ketcham, Erin Buckwalter and Liz Fairchild.
Officials up for re-election in uncontested races are Selectman Mat Norris and school Director Dennis Hysko.
The proposed Robinson Elementary School education spending plan for the coming fiscal year of $2,161,139 represents a hike of $57,365, or 2.7 percent. It will be up for a vote on Tuesday.
If budgets are approved as warned, the Starksboro municipal tax rate is estimated to be 45.47 cents, and the school tax rate would be $1.395. 
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Vergennes
VVERGENNES — Vergennes residents will gather at 7:30 p.m. on March 4 in the Vergennes Opera House to discuss city business. They are also invited to bring a dessert for a social gathering starting at 6:30 p.m. at the theater before the formal annual city meeting begins.
Then, on March 5 polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the city fire station for city residents to decide contested races for mayor and city council and a major bond vote. 
Incumbent one-term alderman Bill Benton is facing former mayor and alderwoman April Jin in the race for mayor, while four experienced candidates are seeking three seats on the city council: incumbents Peter Garon, Joe Klopfenstein and Randy Ouellette, and former two-term alderman Lowell Bertrand.
Also on the ballot will be the city council’s $1.85 million bond proposal to fund a new police station on North Main Street. That bond would fund the purchase of the 0.75-acre former Vergennes Auto Sales property and possibly some adjacent land, site development costs, design and permitting expenses, and a 5,960-square-foot building with about 20 rooms.
City officials said the most the bond could add to the city tax rate would be 7.5 cents a year at the height of annual repayments. Aldermen are also considering devoting non-tax revenue to the project that they said could lower that amount to 6.0 cents, or $120 in new annual taxes on a $200,000 home.
On Tuesday, city residents will also weigh in on union school spending.
After several years of little or no increases, the Vergennes Union High School board has proposed a 5.98 percent hike to about $9.5 million. A major spike in expected special education costs is driving spending higher, school officials said.
The Vergennes Union Elementary School board is proposing to raise spending by 4.7 percent to $4,085,252.
That figure does not include an article that would devote $25,000 to the school’s capital improvement fund. The board added that article, which had been typical in past years. That increase, also driven in part by special education costs as well as contracted raises, followed years of modest spending hikes that include the current budget, which rose by $20,500, or 0.5 percent, from the year before.
According to Addison Northwest Supervisory Union estimates, modified by the city’s Common Level of Appraisal, passage of both union school budgets could lead to an 8.7-cent increase in the Vergennes school tax rate.
A 8.7-cent increase translates to $87 in higher taxes per $100,000 of assessed value, assuming that a resident is paying taxes based on the full value of a home.
ANwSU tax rates saw little or no increases in 2012.
Aldermen will set the Vergennes municipal budget in June before the city’s new fiscal year begins on July 1. 
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Waltham
WALTHAM — Waltham residents will have a number of leadership positions to fill when they gather for their annual meeting at 6 p.m. on March 4, at the Waltham Town Hall.
Several incumbents will seek to be re-nominated from the floor of the meeting, but longtime Vergennes Union High School and Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board member Kristin Bristow has said that her 15 years of service is enough.
Also in Waltham, the terms of Selectman Kevin Bourdon, Vergennes Union Elementary School board member Kate Martin, and Town Clerk Mary Kinson also all expire in March.
All are expected to seek to be nominated from the floor of the Monday evening meeting. The town also has vacancies on the boards of listers and auditors.
There is little change in proposed town spending. The selectboard is requesting $157,300 for road maintenance, up about $4,500 from a year ago, and $71,650 for town administrative expenses, down about $900.
That latter figure includes $12,214 of charitable contributions, the most notable of which is $9,205 for the Bixby Memorial Library in a separate article. That amount is the same request made in 2012; Bixby officials had requested more, but eventually decided not to ask for increases because not all towns went along. They will revisit the issue in the coming months.
On Tuesday, Waltham residents will also join other ANwSU voters in weighing in on proposed VUHS and VUES budgets. The town hall will be open for Australian balloting from 10 a.m. until to 7 p.m.
After several years of little or no increases, the VUHS board has proposed a 5.98 percent hike to about $9.5 million. A major increase in expected special education costs is driving spending higher, school officials said.
The VUES board is proposing to raise spending by 4.7 percent to $4,085,252.
That figure does not include an article that would devote $25,000 to the school’s capital improvement fund. The board added that article, which had been typical in past years. That increase, also driven in part by special education costs, followed years of modest spending hikes, including the current budget, which rose by $20,500, or 0.5 percent, from the year before.
According to ANwSU estimates, modified by Waltham’s Common Level of Appraisal, passage of both union school budgets could lead to a 9.6-cent increase in Waltham’s school tax rate.
A 9.6-cent increase translates to $96 in higher taxes per $100,000 of assessed value, assuming that a resident is paying taxes based on the full value of a home. More than half of ANwSU residents received school tax prebates in the year for which data is most recently available.
ANwSU tax rates saw little or no increases in 2012.
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Weybridge
WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge voters at their town meeting will elect their first new town clerk/treasurer in more than a quarter-century amid an embezzlement investigation, and field an elementary school budget that once again reflects a spending decrease.
Bethany Bingham, Scott Wales and Judith Loewer are running for a three-year term as town treasurer. Bingham and Wales will also compete for a three-year term as town clerk. Those candidates are seeking to replace longtime former town clerk/treasurer Karen Brisson, who resigned last November after admitting to having taken money from the town coffers. The extent of the theft is currently being probed by Vermont State Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Brisson’s case will be prosecuted in federal court.
The selectboard has commissioned a forensic audit of the town, covering the past 7 years, to learn the extent of the missing money. The investigation and the audit could not be completed until the town’s computer programs, which were password-protected, could be accessed. Those passwords were recently acquired and the investigation continues, according to town officials. Weybridge’s insurance will reimburse up to $500,000 in the case of embezzlement, though the policy cannot be applied to the costs of the audit and related expenses, as well as attorneys’ fees, according to officials.
Assistant Town Clerk Brenda Jaring and Assistant Town Clerk and Assistant Treasurer Beverly Landon have stepped in to help at the town offices in the wake of Brisson’s resignation.
Brisson’s oversight of town funds as recently as last November has complicated 2013-2014 budget planning, according to town officials. With the embezzlement investigation still in flux, the selectboard has put together proposed highway and general fund spending plans that are level-funded in most areas.
The proposed 2013-14 general fund budget comes in at $98,790, an increase of $8,000 related to a bump in the legal fees line item.
Selectboard members are pitching a proposed highway budget of $360,000, an increase of $18,700. This factors in a 2.5-percent increase in salaries, along with the related Social Security and retirement costs. The board also added $15,000 for road repaving-related expenses.
Weybridge school directors are proposing a 2013-2014 elementary school budget of $953,945, which amounts to a 1.68-percent ($16,332) reduction compared to this year. Weybridge Elementary’s student numbers are projected to decrease by 19 percent to under 50 students, though the town’s enrollment is expected to correspondingly increase at the middle school and high school level. Weybridge residents last year approved a school budget calling for a 14.6-percent decrease from the prior year.
Local school directors were able to reduce the proposed spending plan by, among other things, cutting back slightly on secretarial and custodial services. The school is also expecting a decrease in special education expenses next year.
The budget is projected to increase the K-12 local homestead education property tax rate by 5.12 percent to $1.794 per $100 in property value.
Other articles on Weybridge’s town meeting agenda seek:
•  $20,000 for the local fire department.
•  $13,000 to continue the volunteer recycling program.
•  $75,000 to repave approximately a half-mile of town roads.
•  $7,000 to install insulated, automatic doors at the Weybridge firehouse.
•  Up to $15,000 to have a well dug at the town offices. Officials said the current shallow well is unreliable and does not provide drinkable water.
Incumbent selectboard members Gale Hurd and Alan J. Piper are unopposed for terms of two years and three years, respectively. Incumbent Weybridge Elementary School board member Michele Bayliss is seeking another two-year term, while a write-in campaign or appointment will be needed to fill a three-year term on the board that has no takers.
Weybridge’s annual meeting will be held at Weybridge Elementary School on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. 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 — Town officials are expecting a relatively quiet night at the annual town meeting next Tuesday at the Whiting Town Hall.
The town addresses everything from the floor of the meeting, which gets under way at 7:15 p.m. with the school meeting followed by town business. So races for specific offices could develop, but Town Clerk Grace Simonds didn’t know of any early this week.
“We gotta have people,” she said.
Selectboard member Ellen Kurrelmeyer will be running for another term. Paul Quesnel, who won a contested race for road commissioner, will be running for that post again. Elaine Boudette is running for auditor.
The school board is not expected to see any new faces as incumbents Rebecca Bertrand and Cady White are both running for three-year terms.
The proposed town spending plan is $335,821 with $67,133 to be raised from taxes. That is 12.2 percent less than the $382,462 OK’d last year, and marks a 64 percent decrease in the amount raised from taxes. Simonds said there was a surplus due in large part to the fact that there was less roadwork than expected.
The Whiting Elementary School spending plan for 2013-2014 is proposed at $557,888, which is a 5.2 percent increase from the current year.
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