Townspeople take part in direct democracy: read Town Meeting capsules for all 23 towns

Read up on Town Meeting 2013 results from all Addison County towns!
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 backed all town and school spending measures in Tuesday’s Australian balloting, including giving support to the $9.5 million Vergennes Union High School budget that passed by just 20 votes, 833-813.
In Addison the margin was 10 votes, 153-143, in favor of a VUHS plan that called for a 5.98 percent boost in spending after years of no or modest increases. VUHS officials said higher expected special education costs are driving spending higher.
Voters gave a bigger victory to a $1.16 million Addison Central School budget that will drop spending from the current level by about $66,600. The vote there ran in favor, 191-108.
The proposed spending plan will continue to avoid the state penalties for high per-pupil spending that had added to some ACS budgets before the current academic year, officials said.
Personnel changes account for most of the savings, most notably Principal Wayne Howe’s expected move to become ANwSU’s part-time assistant superintendent, while also remaining at ACS part-time. Those changes are offsetting increases that include contracted raises and benefits.
According to Addison Northwest Supervisory Union estimates, modified by Addison’s Common Level of Appraisal, passage of both school budgets could lead a 7.1-cent increase in the town’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.
In the only decision made at Monday’s annual meeting, town residents backed by voice vote an article that added $20,000 to the central school’s capital improvement fund article. Such an article has been typical in past years.
In other financial voting on Tuesday, Addison residents supported municipal administrative, road and charitable spending that will total $997,531, plus backed a $195,000 truck purchase. The voting breakdown, not including the many charitable items, was:
•  218-77 for $651,699 in road spending.
•  212-81 for $324,841 in general budget spending.
•  191-99 for the truck, to be funded by a combination of a loan and the town equipment depreciation fund.
Residents also reversed 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. In future years, the Bixby will return to petitioning funds from voters.
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 support.
Town Clerk Marilla Webb, who had been appointed by the selectboard to replace retiring longtime clerk Jane Grace, appeared on the ballot as clerk and treasurer for the first time and was elected without opposition.
Also elected without opposition on Tuesday were selectboard members Joy Pouliot and Steven Torrey, ACS treasurer Jill Bourgeois, and ACS board members George Lawrence and Tim Lindenmeyr.  
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BRANDON — Despite a 10.3 percent spending increase, the proposed Brandon municipal budget passed by eight votes on Town Meeting Day, 428-420.
The $3,292,280 municipal budget ($2,480,080 to be raised by taxes) will result in a seven-cent tax hike for residents. Up roughly $240,000, it includes an additional full-time position in the Public Works Department, elevating the half-time recreation director position to full-time and buys a new loader for Public Works.
The Neshobe School budget also passed, 480-369. Voters approved a $5,250,118 spending plan for fiscal year 2013-2014, up $193,231, or 3.7 percent, from the current budget of $5,056,887.
The Otter Valley Union High School budget was passed by a vote of 890-701. The $10,542,068 budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year contained a marginal 2.3 percent increase.
An intense three-way race for two one-year seats on the selectboard resulted in incumbent Ethan Swift’s re-election (479 votes) as well as that of newcomer Blaine Cliver (474 votes). Challenger June Kelly garnered a respectable 394 votes.
“I want to thank the voters for their support,” she said Tuesday night. “It was an awesome first run. I got my name out there.”
Kelly was asked if Brandon has heard the last of her.
“I think not because I understand there are some committees that need assistance, like the Development Review Board and the planning commission,” she said.
Kelly added that she still believes there should be more transparency and opportunity for public input in Brandon’s civic landscape.
Selectboard Chair Devon Fuller ran unopposed and was re-elected to a three-year term.
Longtime First Constable Gigi Corsones was unseated by challenger Gerry McGraw, 424-389. 
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BRIDPORT — Bridport residents on Tuesday elected Sue Walker to a two-year term on the selectboard and passed all of the money items on its town meeting warning.
In one of only two contested races on the ballot, Walker defeated Ed Payne by a vote of 185-71.
In an unanticipated race, Suzanne Buck — who had been unopposed on the ballot — defeated write-in candidate Jessica Norris, 137-100, for a two-year term as local school director.
Incumbent Selectwoman Susan Stocker was unopposed in her bid for a three-year term. Chuck Welch and Paul Plouffe were unopposed for terms of one and three years, respectively, on the local school board.
Selectman Leonard Barrett ran unopposed for another three-year term as Bridport’s representative on the UD-3 school board.
Residents approved a 2013-2014 general fund/highway budget of $1,270,164 by voice vote. The spending plan was down considerably from last year’s approved spending plan of $1,718,954. The reduction was due to the recent retirement of several major capital projects involving the town offices, the Community/Masonic Hall and Lake Street culvert.
The proposed 2013-2014 Bridport Central School budget of $1,452,750 also passed, 152-112. The spending plan represented a 9.13-percent bump ($121,555) in spending compared to this year. A large chunk of the increase was associated with a recently implemented pre-K program and special education costs. The school will receive some state reimbursement for its anticipated special education expenses and some fund balance to carry forward that will reduce Bridport Central’s net increase to 4.2 percent.
Other articles approved at the Bridport town meeting included:
•  $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 structure 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 School.
•  Various contributions to an assortment of Addison County nonprofits. 
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BRISTOL — Voters in Bristol had a busy town meeting on Monday evening, with residents approving a town budget at the meeting in Holley Hall. But in Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, voters rejected a bond that would lead to a new firehouse.
All town budgets passed from the floor, including the proposed 2013-2014 General Fund spending plan of $701,570, with $498,870 to be raised by taxes. The overall municipal spending increase was 1.1 percent, a figure that Town Administrator Bill Bryant had said the town “feels good” about bringing before voters.
One resident looking to cut the bottom line from the General Fund budget offered an amendment to simply decrease spending by 5 percent. In the same vein, another resident offered an amendment to cut spending by 1 percent. Both were defeated by voice vote and the town budget passed as warned.
By Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, Bristol voters rejected a $375,000 bond to upgrade the firehouse at its current North Street location by a tally of 587-293. The bond would have allowed the town to purchase an adjacent property, the historic Duclos House, and fund a site design. A second bond would have been required to fund construction costs.
Voters in the Bristol Police District approved a police department budget that features a 6.4 percent spending increase — enough to move the department from its temporary South Street headquarters to a new space in the BristolWorks business park. Residents OK’d the total police district spending plan of $362,000, up from $343,728 last year, on a vote of 262-226, and approved a second article, 276-214, to allow the town to use a surplus in the police budget to fund security and surveillance equipment for the new site.
In the selectboard race, Brian Fox bested John Moyers, 509-354, for the three-year seat vacated by Carol Wells. John “Peeker” Heffernan, chair of the Bristol selectboard, ran unopposed for his two-year seat on the board.
There were no contested races for seats on the Mount Abraham Union High School and Bristol Elementary School boards. Bob Donnis and Dick Merrill earned three-year seats on the Mount Abe board. Amanda Fox, who had been appointed to the Mount Abe board, kept her two-year seat. Steve Barsalou won a three-year seat on the Bristol Elementary board and Chris Scrodin and Sheryl Thurber each earned one-year seats on the Bristol Elementary board.
Residents had to cast two votes on the Bristol Elementary School spending plan. The budget asked for spending of $4,847,510, which exceeded the Maximum Inflation Amount set in the state education funding law and triggered a two-step voting process. Residents first voted on spending $4,678,873, which is the total amount allowed without tripping the trigger; that passed 537-340. And they also voted on $168,637, which is the balance of the amount of spending that school officials say is required to run the school next year — it was approved 515-353. Proposed spending reflected a 7.65 percent increase in education spending.
The Mount Abe school budget passed 1,372-827. The Mount Abe school spending plan for fiscal year 2013-14 was set at $13,812,984. That is just short of a 2 percent increase.
Addison Northeast Supervisory Union officials estimated that the Bristol school tax rate for homeowners will be 69.81 cents per $100 in assessed value and the Mount Abe tax rate for homeowners will be 76.47 cents, for a total residential school tax rate of $1.4628. 
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CORNWALL — Cornwall residents at their town meeting passed all the articles on their warning, including an unusual two-vote requirement for their 2013-2014 Bingham Memorial School budget of $1,378,132.
State law required the vote on this budget to be divided into two referenda 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 faced a vote on a $1,355,963 portion of spending plan, then the $22,169 portion that exceeds the inflationary guideline prescribed by state law. Both measures passed by voice vote, according to Town Clerk Sue Johnson.
Voters approved a general fund budget of $446,897, and a highway budget of $373,800.
Other articles approved at Cornwall’s town meeting included:
•  $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.
•  $500 for the Cornwall Little League to help pay its expenses.
•  $4,000 for 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.
A non-binding, petitioned referendum opposing the proposed transport of tar sands oil through Vermont also received approval.
There were no contested races on the ballot in Cornwall. Incumbent selectboard members Ben Wood and Abi Sessions received terms of two and three years, respectively. Kristianne Tolgyesi and Tammy Denton were newly elected as members of the Bingham Memorial School board. Cy Tall was re-elected to a one-year term as moderator. Geoffrey Demong and Holly Noordsy were elected to three-year terms on the planning commission. 
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FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh in Tuesday balloting returned selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence to office in the town’s only contested race.
Lawrence, a 12-year board veteran, outpolled Arabella Holzapfel, 348-216, or 63.5 to 36.5 percent, for a new three-year term. Holzapfel in 2012 was a losing Democratic candidate for the district of the Vermont House that includes Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham.
Also returned to the Ferrisburgh selectboard were longtime member Sally Torrey and James Benoit, who was appointed in 2012 to fill a vacant seat.
Four Ferrisburgh Central School board races were uncontested. Incumbents Bill Clark, Katie Boyle and Julie Gramling and newcomer Christopher Kayhart will all be serving after Tuesday’s Australian balloting confirmed their candidacies.
Voters on March 5 also backed all proposed spending, and even boosted one line item.
In Australian balloting, residents supported a $3.26 million central school budget, 343-240. It will increase spending over the current level by 4.88 percent and maintain existing programs, officials said. Also backed were separate line items to add $20,000 to the school’s capital improvement fund, and to devote $10,000 to create a new fund to buy technology for FCS.
Voters also narrowly backed the $9.5 million Vergennes Union High School budget, 294-290. Overall, the VUHS proposal passed, 833-813. After several years of little or no increases, VUHS spending will rise by 5.98 percent next year. Officials said a major spike in expected special education costs is driving spending higher.
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, residents were looking at $1,656,618 of proposed town spending, and decided to add $13,559 in support for the Bixby Memorial Library, bringing Ferrisburgh’s total support for the Bixby to $52,559.
Town officials said that increase brings Ferrisburgh’s per capita contribution in line with that proposed for Vergennes.
Residents also backed 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, including the new Bixby spending, is about $27,000 less than a year ago, with most of the savings overall due to the completion of a town-wide reappraisal of taxable real estate, officials said.
CORRECTION: The Independent’s preview article for Ferrisburgh’s town meeting incorrectly identified Selectwoman Sally Torrey. We apologize for the error. 
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GOSHEN — Reconciliation of a small addition error in the general fund budget may have been the most exciting thing about the Goshen town meeting this year. Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon said a $10,500 line item was included in the General Fund budget but was not included in the bottom line warned for town meeting. So on Monday evening they added it to the warned number and voters then OK’d the $334,443 general fund, of which $228,483 will be raised in taxes.
Goshen, of course, doesn’t have its own school, and in the past tuitioned schoolchildren to a variety of schools. On Monday, residents approved a measure that says the town will pay school tuition only for students who go to Neshobe School in Brandon, not to other elementary schools.
They also approved a 2013-2014 school spending plan of $120,633, which will pay for the education of seven students.
Marci Hayes got 19 write-in votes; that was enough to earn her a spot on the Neshobe School board.
There were several contested elections. In the race for first constable, Sean Martin defeated Bruce Webster, 63-11. Webster also challenged incumbent auditor Janet Bishop; she won 59-13. Lister Laurie Lovell retained her position with 54 votes, compared to 15 for Jeannie Meyer.
Incumbent Selectman David McKinnon got 60 votes — enough to beat write-in candidate Wes Holler. Rosemary McKinnon kept her town treasurer seat with 66 votes. And incumbent Treasurer Vicki Whiting won, as well, with 71 votes.
The three articles on the warning passed, with the most contentious being the one asking 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). The measure passed 46-30.
Voters also agreed by large margins to spend $5,581 from the interest earned on Goshen Town Forest timber sales to pay for town office renovations, and to spend $5,000 from the Goshen Town Hall Renovation Fund for improvements to the town hall.
Votes were cast by 76 of the 173 residents on the Goshen checklist. 
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GRANVILLE — At a long town meeting Tuesday evening, Granville residents voted to fund their current ambulance service, the Valley Rescue Squad Inc., but the future of the squad is in question after the other two towns that had been funding Valley Rescue declined to continue their support.
Granville approved spending $34,184 on Valley Rescue by a margin of 26-20, and tabled an article to fund White River Valley Ambulance out of Bethel, which would have cost $24,500. At town meeting in Rochester, residents declined to support Valley Rescue; in Hancock they declined to support both Valley Rescue and White River Valley Ambulance.
Granville Town Clerk Kathy Werner said the town will have to see how the rescue service issue sugars out in the coming weeks.
Separately, voters decided that keeping track of town expenditures and revenues has become a bigger job than amateur auditors can handle, so they eliminated the office of town auditor. A professional will be hired.
They approved a proposed town spending plan for 2013-2014 that 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 also supported the 2013-2014 school spending plan of $530,217, which represented a decrease of 7.4 percent from the current year’s school budget of $572,861.
Most other spending questions passed, as well, including spending $20,000 as a first installment to pay off $80,000 the town owes as a local match of FEMA expenses. However, voters defeated a measure to create a capital account in the amount of $6,000 for the fire department because, Werner explained, they thought the specific wording of the article was too broad.
Don’t look for new faces among Granville town officers, as incumbents were re-elected. They included selectboard member Cheryl Sargeant for a term of three years; school directors Erika Linskey and Trina Service for three and one year, respectively; and Werner for town clerk (three years) and treasurer (one year). 
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HANCOCK — Residents of Hancock will be returning to town meeting in the near future after they rejected the school spending plan and voted not to fund any ambulance service.
School officials had asked for $880,000 to educate Hancock children in the coming year, which was about $90,000 more than last year. Officials from the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union explained at Tuesday’s annual school meeting that higher special education cost were driving the increase.
The 50 or so voters at the meeting discussed the matter for a long time, Town Clerk Sara Deering said, and then rejected the school budget by a voice vote. Deering said officials hope to warn another meeting as soon as they can, but it would be no sooner than 30 days.
At the meeting, they may also discuss the future of ambulance service in town. Hancock, Granville and Rochester all faced town meeting questions of whether to continue to fund the Valley Rescue Service or switch to the White River Valley Ambulance out of Bethel. In Hancock, voters said no to both. The paper ballot vote was 15 in favor of funding Valley Rescue and 16 opposed; on funding White River Valley Ambulance it was 14 in favor, 15 opposed.
Hancock voters weren’t all about saying no — they approved a proposed municipal spending plan of $356,277 along with additional appropriations amounting to $6,060.
A new face among the town officials elected Tuesday was new lister Linda Namy. Those re-elected were selectboard member Judy Olsen, constable Chris Warren, auditor Elsie Cardin, road foreman James Leno, library trustee Janet Kittredge, Budget Committee member Marge Frost and delinquent tax collector Sara Deering, who was also elected to fill out the remaining year as town clerk and treasurer. 
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LEICESTER — School directors in Leicester were scratching their heads Tuesday evening after they learned that the proposed school spending plan was defeated, 65-73. The $1,127,521 budget represented an increase of $66,863, or 6.3 percent, from the current year.
School board chairman Matthew Brush was at a loss to explain the result.
“Town meeting was poorly attended (Monday) night, and no one asked any questions challenging anything specifically on the budget,” he said. “No one came to school board meetings during the year.
“I think it was the low voter turnout.”
Indeed, selectboard Chair Diane Benware, who won re-election to a three-year term, said only 28 people came to town meeting. “That was the smallest number in the 32 years I’ve been coming to town meeting,” Benware said.
Brush said he had talked with the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union superintendent, and the board would meet next week and make a plan for how to proceed on the school budget.
Those who came out to the Leicester Meeting House on Monday evening OK’d the municipal spending plan as warned: $500,714 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). They also agreed to Article 3, which OKs spending an additional $20,000 on road paving.
The spending was on par with what was approved for the current year.
The towns of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union passed the Otter Valley Union High School spending plan of $10,542,068 by a tally of 890-701. It rose 2 percent from last year.
There were no surprises in the voting for town officers. In addition to Benware, other incumbents who were returned in uncontested races were Selectman Tom Barker to a two-year seat, Auditor Donna Pidgeon, and school board members Michelle Pierpont and Connie Carroll for three- and two-year terms, respectively. 
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LINCOLN — Lincoln voters held a technically invalid town meeting on Monday evening in Burnham Hall, due to a mix-up at the printer that resulted in the town report not being delivered to some residents until late last week.
Under state statute Title 24, Section 1682A, voters must be warned at least 30 days prior to town meeting.
However, Lincoln town meeting-goers voted to move ahead with the agenda anyway, and found a legal solution in state statute Title 17, Sect 2662. The town warned a special meeting to be held in 30 days’ time, to validate the decisions that voters made on March 4.
“No one knew if voters were ready to move forward,” said Town Clerk Sally Ober, who on Tuesday evening said that town officials noticed that budget discussions were less detailed than in past years. “Town officials really felt frustrated with the situation. We haven’t gotten to the bottom of what happened.”
Ober said that since all town officials believed they had followed the usual schedule and deadlines for getting information to the printer, no alarm bells were raised until the town reports were not delivered at the normal time. When the town called to ask what had happened, the town reports were printed and delivered, but some did not arrive until late last week, and other town meeting-goers told Ober that they had not received their reports at all.
Nonetheless, once Lincoln town meeting got off the ground, voters had a productive time.
All town budgets were passed as warned, including the major expenditures, the Highway Fund and General Fund. The proposed Highway Fund expenditure was $863,740, of which $704,890 would be raised by taxes.
General Fund spending for the coming fiscal year passed at $324,812, of which $193,702 is to be raised by taxes, $93,655 is surplus from the current year, and $37,455 is to be raised by non-tax revenues.
Voters also elected to add two additional seats to the Lincoln selectboard, bringing the board from three members to five. Ober said she expected the new board members would be elected next Town Meeting Day; the alternative option would have been to hold a special town meeting to elect those officers, but no voter moved to take that route.
Interestingly, given this year’s town report mix-up, Lincoln voters also decided to reject an article that would have changed the way that town reports are distributed. Instead of being mailed directly to each residence, the article would have notified voters by postcard that town reports were available for pick-up at specified locations. Lincoln voters rejected that from the floor, and town reports will be delivered to each mailbox as usual next year — and officials say they will be on time.
At the school portion of Monday’s meeting, voters also approved a fiscal year 2013-2014 budget for the Lincoln Community School of $1,903,271, up from $1,812,638 last year, representing an increase in spending of $90,633, or 5 percent.
The Mount Abe school budget passed as warned, with a union-wide vote of 1,372-827. The Mount Abe school spending plan for fiscal year 2013-14 was set at $13,812,984. That is just short of a 2 percent increase.
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.
In the race for first constable, incumbent Will Clark kept his seat against challenger Joshua Otey, 155-91. 
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MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury voters returned three incumbent selectmen to three-year terms and passed all of the money items on its ballot on Town Meeting Day.
Incumbents Nick Artim, Gary Baker and Travis Forbes each won another three-year term on the board. Artim garnered the most votes with 437, followed by Baker with 434 and Forbes with 364. Finishing out of the running were challengers Ted Davis with 321 tallies and Eric Murray, who logged 224 votes.
Also earning support at the polls on Tuesday were a request for $7,000 to support a scholarship program for the nonprofit Otter Creek Child Center (OCCC), and an advisory referendum seeking opposition to the proposed transport of tar sands oil through a pipeline that extends from Canada across a portion of northern Vermont to Portland, Maine.
The OCCC request passed by a 468-235 tally, while the tar sands referendum — forced by a citizens’ petition — earned support by a 493-212 margin.
The approximately 150 attendees at Monday’s annual meeting approved a proposed fiscal year 2013-2014 municipal budget of $8,951,760 by a resounding voice vote after more than an hour of discussion. The spending plan will require a 4.5-cent increase in the town’s municipal tax rate of 86.2 cents per $100 in property value. That increase was stabilized by the Middlebury Fire Department’s agreement to forgo, for one year, one penny of the 2 cents on the tax rate that is annually used to sweeten the department’s fire equipment replacement fund. So town meeting participants resoundingly approved what amounted to a $72,000 equipment fund reduction, with gratitude, in a separate article by a voice vote.
The municipal budget increase is being substantially driven by fixed personnel costs and 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.
Residents also authorized, by voice vote, the 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 will be made in accordance with the town’s replacement schedule, to be financed through a five-year loan of up to $330,000.
In uncontested elections, Ruth Hardy, Billy Connelly and Jason Duquette-Hoffman won three-year terms on the Mary Hogan Elementary School board; Lorraine Gonzalez Morse earned another three-year term on the UD-3 school board; John Freidin breezed to a five-year term on the Ilsley Library Board of Trustees; and former Gov. James Douglas won another year as town moderator. Beth Dow was elected to a three-year term as lister.
Addison Central Supervisory Union voters passed the proposed 2013-2014 UD-3 school budget of $16,585,518 by a 1,294 to 660 tally. The budget, reflecting an approximately 3-percent increase, covers Middlebury Union Middle and High School expenses for the member-towns of Middlebury, Bridport, Cornwall, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge.
The proposed 2013-2014 Mary Hogan Elementary School budget of $6,418,788 will be voted at the ID-4 annual meeting on April 10.
(A more detailed account of Middlebury’s town meeting appears on Page 1A.) 
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MONKTON — Articles concerning the Addison Natural Gas Project, which would send a pipeline through Monkton, took up a significant portion of discussion at the Monkton town meeting Tuesday morning. Articles 9 and 10 of the town meeting agenda asked voters whether to authorize the selectboard to establish a $50,000 legal fund to represent the town against Vermont Gas Systems at upcoming Public Service Board meetings, and whether to advise the board not to issue any pipeline permits to the company until safety concerns had been addressed. Articles 9 and 10 both passed from the floor.
Monkton voters also weighed in on slight budget increases across the board. All money items passed, including the proposed municipal spending plan for fiscal year 2013-14, which was $1,205,632, up from $1,155,632 last year, an increase of 1.04 percent. The Monkton Central School budget was approved at $2,318,823, which is up from $2,163,203 last year — a 0.93 percent increase. Voters did not have to consider any increases for social service agencies this year — Town Clerk Sharon Gomez said the agencies are asking for the same amounts that they asked for last year.
There were no contested races this year. Stephen Pilcher won a two-year seat on the selectboard, Gomez was re-elected as town clerk. Town Treasurer Chuck Roumas was also re-elected. Roger Parker Jr. ran uncontested on the selectboard seat vacated by Peter Norris.
By Australian ballot on Tuesday, voters rejected by narrow margins two significant bonds to improve municipal buildings.
The first bond, which was defeated 287-225, would have raised $1 million to fund construction of a new town hall and library on the 5-acre parcel of town-owned land on Monkton Ridge.
That bond was the third the town had put before Monkton voters on this subject — the first two proposals, which had price tags of $1.5 million and $1.7 million, were also rejected.
Monkton voters also rejected a $120,000 bond for an extension to the fire facility on States Prison Hollow Road by just 12 votes, 260-248.
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New Haven
NEW HAVEN — Monday’s town meeting in New Haven was short and sweet. Voters met at the town hall to discuss, among other things, 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. From the floor, New Haven voters chose to do away with the town auditor position, choosing to rely on outside audits.
Most New Haven town business was completed by Australian ballot  on Tuesday.
All money items got the go-ahead, including the  proposed Road Fund expenditure of $1,276,629 for the coming year, which represented a 19.24 percent increase. Proposed General Fund spending was also approved at $653,006, essentially unchanged from $653,270 approved last year.
There were no contested elections, and all incumbents kept their seats.
New Haven voters also allocated $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 got voters’ approval to spend $1,888,456 this coming fiscal year, a 3.7 percent increase.
The Mount Abe school budget passed with a union-wide vote of 1,372-827. The Mount Abe school spending plan for fiscal year 2013-14 was set at $13,812,984. That is just short of a 2 percent increase. 
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ORWELL — They needed a paper ballot to decide the village school budget at the Orwell town meeting Tuesday, but that may have been the height of the excitement at the annual proceedings.
Those at the meeting voted 57-26 in favor of the proposed fiscal year 2014 school spending plan of $1,696,375, which represents a decrease of $15,310, or less than 1 percent, from the current year’s spending plan of $1,711,685.
The proposed municipal spending plan of $973,176 was approved by voice vote from the floor of town meeting. Maybe that was because that marked an 11 percent decrease from the current year’s spending. Town Clerk Susan Ann Arnebold said last week that the town has put some big-ticket bills behind it — including litigation and road repairs — which accounts for the proposed drop in spending.
The Fair Haven Union High School budget was approved as proposed with a spending increase of 4.3 percent to $5,005935. That means 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. 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.
There were no contested elections on the ballot. Among those returning to their jobs were Town Clerk Arnebold, Town Treasurer Mark Young, selectboard members Walker James and Carla Ochs, and school directors Alyson Audet Eastman and Peter Och.
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PANTON — Panton residents elected a new selectboard member from the floor of their town meeting on March 5 in a close vote that went to paper ballots.
When the votes were counted, Wendy Knight emerged the victor over Ron Childers, 18-15, in the only contested race. Vergennes Union Elementary School board member Karrie Beebe retained her seat without opposition.
By voice vote, residents passed $669,931 of proposed town spending, up by about $24,000 from 2012. The lion’s share of the increase came when a new $20,000 “Highway Capital Project Fund” was established that will be devoted to future major road projects.
Also in the reserve fund article, voters backed $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 records to digital form; and $1,000 to the Reappraisal Fund to help pay for future town-wide property assessments.
Voters also backed the selectboard’s general fund budget of $601,931 for administrative and road spending, and $7,931 of charitable requests.
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union voters overall supported a proposed $9.5 million Vergennes Union High School budget, 833-813. Panton residents voted against the plan, which will raise spending by almost 6 percent after several years of little or no increases, 47-44. A major increase in expected special education costs is driving spending higher, school officials said.
Panton joined Waltham and Vergennes voters in backing a VUES budget that will raise spending by 4.7 percent to $4,085,252. The vote was 447-322 in commingled balloting.
According to ANwSU estimates, modified by Panton’s Common Level of Appraisal, passage of both union school budgets could lead to 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.
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RIPTON — Ripton residents at their town meeting Monday and in Australian ballot voting on Tuesday approved all the requests on their warning, including two substantial capital investments in their elementary school building.
Townspeople voted 118-24 in favor of a 20-year, $250,000 bond to pay for installation of 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.
In a second related referendum, residents voted 113-25 in support of another 20-year bond, this one for up to $207,400, to install solar panels on the new roof. Monkton-based Addison Renewable Energy will place 200 solar panels, covering roughly 3,500 square feet, on the south-facing portion of the roof. The project will 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.
The proposed 2013-2014 Ripton Elementary School budget of $808,931 (a 4.33-percent increase) passed by voice vote. Residents also agreed to set aside $25,000 into an education reserve fund.
The Ripton selectboard’s proposed 2013 highway budget of  $294,679 (down from the $353,350 approved last year) and 2013 General Fund budget of $266,637 (down from the $270,711 OK’d last year) both sailed through by voice vote.
The most contentious issue at Monday’s meeting was a proposal to change the town from a calendar budget that starts Jan. 1 to a fiscal year budget that begins July 1. Town Clerk Sally Hoyler made the case in favor saying that the town might save a bit of money by getting a better rate from professional auditors who are busy with tax work during January and could make a little money on interest by collecting school taxes earlier and holding them in the bank longer before having to turn them over to the state. She said it also made sense with much of the rest of the world operating on a fiscal year budget.
All three selectboard members were opposed to the change, saying it was easier and more relevant to budget on a calendar year. The measure passed on a voice vote, with quite a few in attendance voting no.
In other action at their town meeting, residents approved:
•  $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.
•  A petitioned, advisory referendum opposing the transport of tar sands through Vermont.
There were no contested local elections in Ripton this year. Incumbent Selectman Richard Collitt was elected to another three-year term. Resident Perry Hanson was elected to a two-year term on the school board and resident Bryan Alexander waged a successful write-in campaign for a three-year vacancy on that panel. Sally Hoyler was returned to another three-year term as town clerk and treasurer. Voters thanked departing school board members Willem Jewett and Mike Hussey, who both wrapped up multi-year terms. 
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SALISBURY — Salisbury voters on Tuesday picked Tom Scanlon over Martha Sullivan in a two-person race for a two-year term on the selectboard, and approved all of the articles on the town meeting warning.
Scanlon topped Sullivan 109-94 in the only contested race on the ballot. In uncontested elections Selectman Jonathan Blake was re-upped for a three-year term and incumbent Salisbury School Board members Gretchen Huestis and John Nuceder were granted new terms of two and three years, respectively. Incumbent Laura Lass won another three years representing Salisbury on the UD-3 school board. Wayne Smith Jr. was elected to a one-year term as moderator.
The proposed General Fund budget of $189,915, up from the $177,661 compared to this year, passed by a 172-31 tally.
Voters also OK’d the proposed highway budget of $390,878, down from the current $405,972, by a 168-35 margin.
Voters approved a proposed 2013-2014 Salisbury Community School budget of $1,560,529 by a 58-27 paper-ballot vote on Monday. The budget represents a bump of 7.82 percent ($113,210) compared to this year.
Residents also voted 157-45 in favor of designating the town of Salisbury as a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) District and authorized the selectboard to enter into an agreement with Efficiency Vermont to administer the PACE home energy improvements program on behalf of the town.
A combined total of $66,235 for various Addison County nonprofit organizations also met with local voters’ approval. 
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SHOREHAM — Shoreham residents on Tuesday picked Howard Campbell over Colin Davis for a two-year term on the local planning commission. Campbell earned 89 tallies, to 79 for Davis, in what was the only contested election at Shoreham’s town meeting this year.
Residents passed every article on their town meeting warning, including a proposed 2013-2014 highway budget of $613,114 (representing a 7-percent increase); a General Fund budget of $246,803 (up 3 percent); and a 2013-14 elementary school budget of $1,467,825, which represents a 2.9-percent boost in spending compared to this year. All of those money items passed by voice vote at the annual gathering.
Four posts on the town selectboard were in play on Town Meeting Day, though none of them were contested. Incumbent Selectman Stephen Goodrich was re-elected to a three-year term, while fellow incumbents Paul Saenger and Sanford Witherell Jr. won terms of one year each. Mark Spitzner was elected to the single year left on a term vacated by Selectwoman Karen Shackett.
Incumbent Shoreham Elementary School board members Ben Cadoret and Bruce Perlow were unopposed for terms of three and two years, respectively. Michelle Patterson was elected to a one-year term on the panel.
In other action at their town meeting, Shoreham voters OK’d:
•  $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. 
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STARKSBORO — Starksboro voters gathered at Robinson Elementary School on Saturday, March 2, to discuss fairly routine town meeting issues and vote on budgets, all of which passed as warned from the floor.
The town asked for $502,329 in General Fund spending this year, which represented less than a $5,000 increase from last year. The Road Equipment Fund was pegged at $86,590, compared to $82,085 last year, and the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund was warned at $30,328, just over $400 more than last year.
The Robinson Elementary School education spending plan for the coming fiscal year of $2,161,139 passed from the floor, as well. The school spending plan represented a hike of $57,365, or 2.7 percent.
The Starksboro municipal tax rate is estimated at 45.47 cents, and the school tax rate at $1.395.
Townspeople rejected an article that would have made Starksboro a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) town. It would have seen the town enter an agreement with Efficiency Vermont to administrate the PACE program’s energy efficiency funding to Starksboro homeowners.
In Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, voters elected town officers. The lone contested race was for library trustee, which had two three-year openings and three candidates on the ballot. Katie Antos-Ketcha and Liz Fairchild were voted in to the board over Erin Buckwalter.
In uncontested races, Selectman Mat Norris and school director Dennis Hysko kept their seats. 
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VERGENNES — In balloting on Tuesday, Vergennes residents chose real estate appraiser and one-term alderman Bill Benton as their new mayor.
Benton outpolled former mayor and multi-term alderman April Jin, 459-122, in the city’s top-of-the ticket race.
In a four-way race for three city council seats, former two-term alderman Lowell Bertrand unseated one-term incumbent Peter Garon, while multi-term incumbents Joe Klopfenstein and Randy Ouellette retained their positions.
Klopfenstein earned the most votes, 433; followed by Bertrand, 430; Ouellette, 334; and Garon, 260.
When the council meets later this month for the first time since the election, Benton said one of the first orders of business will be to replace him on the council. Benton said Garon has expressed an interest in being appointed to the opening created when voters moved Benton from a council chair to the mayor’s seat.
On Tuesday, city residents also weigh in on union school spending. Aldermen will determine the Vergennes municipal budget in June.  
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union voters overall supported a proposed $9.5 million Vergennes Union High School budget, 833-813. Vergennes residents voted against the plan, which will raise spending by almost 6 percent after several years of little or no increases, 302-295. A major increase in expected special education costs is driving spending higher, school officials said.
Vergennes joined Waltham and Panton in backing a Vergennes Union Elementary School budget that will raise spending by 4.7 percent to $4,085,252. The vote was 447-322 in commingled balloting.
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.
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WALTHAM — Waltham residents filled a number of leadership positions when they gathered on Monday night at the town hall, but not all of them.
Because of a glitch on the town’s meeting warning, no official notice was given that there were openings on the Vergennes Union high and elementary school boards, according to Town Clerk Mary Kinson.
The Waltham selectboard scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. on March 15 to fill those two spots, with incumbent VUES director Kate Martin seeking to retain her seat and Jeffry Glassberg indicating he would like to replace outgoing longtime VUHS and Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board member Kristin Bristow.
On Monday, Waltham residents did return Kinson to office and did the same for incumbent selectman Kevin Bourdon.
Residents also backed the selectboard’s proposed town spending, which saw little change from 2012: $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.
Waltham residents on Monday also decided to allow the selectboard to apply about $28,000 of carryover from the 2012 fiscal year to lowering the municipal tax rate in the coming year. Selectman Harold Francis said an accounting mistake prevented the town from using the money previously, and as a result the town’s anticipated municipal rate will drop by roughly 5 cents, from 47 cents to about 42 cents.
“Because of an accounting glitch, the amount wasn’t applied last year,” Francis said. “It should lower it down to approximately 42.”
In Tuesday’s Australian balloting, Waltham residents were a major factor in the 833-813 decision among ANwSU voters to back a $9.5 million VUHS budget. Waltham gave the plan, which calls for a 5.98 percent hike driven by expected higher special education costs, 47-31. That 16-vote margin was the largest among the five ANwSU towns.
Waltham also joined Panton and Vergennes in supporting a VUES budget that will raise spending by 4.7 percent to $4,085,252. The commingled tally in the three communities was 447-322.
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. 
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WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge voters on Town Meeting Day elected Scott Wales as their new town clerk and treasurer. He formally replaces Karen Brisson, who served as Weybridge’s town clerk/treasurer for more than 25 years before resigning last November after admitting to taking money from the town coffers.
Wales topped Bethany Bingham, 106-96, for the three-year term as town clerk. He also won a tight, three-person race for three years as town treasurer, earning 75 tallies to 60 for Bingham and 58 for fellow candidate Judith Loewer.
Wales takes over leadership of an office that has been under financial scrutiny since Brisson’s departure. The selectboard has commissioned a forensic audit of the town’s financial records, covering the past 7 years, to learn the extent of any missing money. The case is currently being probed by Vermont State Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Brisson’s case will be prosecuted in federal court.
Residents approved all of the articles on their town meeting warning, by voice vote. Those included a proposed 2013-14 general fund budget of $98,790, (up $8,000) and a proposed highway budget of $360,000 (up $18,700).
Also approved was a 2013-2014 elementary school budget of $953,945, amounting 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 fewer than 50 students, though the town’s enrollment is expected to correspondingly increase at the middle school and high school level.
In other action at their town meeting, Weybridge voters approved:
•  $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.
The town clerk-treasurer posts were the only ones contested on Tuesday in Weybridge. Incumbent selectboard members Gale Hurd and Alan J. Piper were unopposed for terms of two years and three years, respectively. Incumbent Weybridge Elementary School board member Michele Bayliss won another two-year term, while Jennifer Richmond ran a successful write-in campaign for a three-year vacancy on that board. Spencer Putnam won another term as town moderator.
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WHITING — Residents of Whiting spent a good deal of time at Tuesday’s town meeting discussing whether to add $22,000 to the proposed municipal spending plan in order to pay off debts on the fire station. Eventually they agreed to add the money, pay off the fire station, and budget $347,821 in the general fund for the coming year. The approved highway budget was $191,760.
The amount to be raised from taxes in the coming year will be $89,133, which is lower than in past years because of a forecast unspent reserve in the road fund, according to Town Clerk Grace Simonds.
The Whiting Elementary School spending plan for 2013-2014 was proposed at $557,888, a 5.2 percent increase from the current year. It passed.
The 50 or so people at the meeting took care of most questions by voice vote, but went to a paper ballot when Carol Brigham challenged Ellen Kurrelmeyer for moderator. Kurrelmeyer won. She also was re-elected to a three-year seat on the selectboard.
Other winners were Paul Quesnel for road commissioner and lister, Elaine Boudette for auditor, Heather Mattison and Larry Wilbur for library board, Marilyn Chicoine for collector of delinquent taxes, and Guy Chicoine for town juror and first constable.
School board incumbents Rebecca Bertrand and Cady White won three-year terms.
There was one new face among the town officials after Monday’s meeting. Jonathan Hempel had moved out of town and surrendered the job of second constable; newcomer Michael Dame was elected to fill that spot.
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