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Town Meeting Previews 2014

Every year on or around the first Tuesday in March Vermonters gather with their neighbors to weigh in on town, school and highway budgets and to express their views on matters of local interest. The annual town meeting, which has been taking place for more than 250 years in many towns, is also a time for townspeople to re-establish relationships with those whom they see at the store or school drop-off.
We have profiled what is on the agenda for town meetings in the 23 municipalities in Addison County plus Brandon. Read about the issues that will be discussed at your town meeting next week, prepare some questions for your public officials, and then go and take part in the civic life of your community.
You can view the PDF version of our paper, which has the town-by-town Town Meeting Previews on pages 1A and 12A-18A, or read the town capsules below.
Addison
ADDISON — In Town Meeting Day balloting between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., in addition to weighing in on town and school budgets and casting ballots for uncontested elections, Addison residents will face articles that request extra spending and could have major implications for the future.
Residents will also gather at the Addison Central School at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 3, to discuss town and school business.
The larger spending request — one that, like all Addison decisions to be made on Tuesday, March 4, will be voted upon by Australian ballot — is straightforward: The selectboard is asking residents to approve a five-year, $300,000 loan to replace a failed culvert on Townline Road.
Another article asks if the selectboard can borrow up to $55,380 to fund a septic study that could allow the now vacant Addison Town Hall’s restoration.
A related article asks voters if they support “taking ownership and responsibility of the Town Hall and the land it sits on from the church by an agreement to supply the church a connection to the waste water system for the Town Hall?” Taking ownership enables the town to apply for grants toward the restoration of the building into Town Offices and meeting space.
Addison Town Hall Committee chairman John Spencer has said a preliminary study showed a site west of Addison Central School could support a community septic system that could also serve Addison’s fire station, town hall, and the adjacent Addison Community Baptist Church, which now holds title to Addison Town Hall.
Addison’s 140-year-old town hall has never had running water or septic, and Spencer said the fire station and the current clerk’s office have questionable septic systems. Church leaders have agreed to deed the building back to Addison in exchange for town-funded septic service.
According to Spencer, septic system construction, engineering, permitting and purchase of an easement for the site are estimated at $675,000, but he is optimistic the state will award Addison a grant for 35 percent of the tab, or $236,000.
The Town Hall Committee also has plans drawn up for a $1 million renovation of Addison Town Hall to replace what many believe is an increasingly inadequate town clerk’s office, which has a nearly full vault and little storage, office room and meeting space. Experts have determined the town hall’s structure is sound, and Spencer said grants would probably help pay for restoration.
Town officials have said the first step of evaluating the possibilities start with pinning down the septic capabilities of the land in question. Its owner has agreed to sell the septic easement to the town.
The selectboard has also proposed a $307,781 general fund budget that is about $17,000 lower than current spending. But because sheriffs’ patrols brought in less revenue this year than anticipated, there will be a modest increase of about $7,500 in the tax levy needed to support the budget.
Proposed highway spending, and revenue, is essentially level. The board is requesting $651,110, down $589 from the current budget.
There will be no contested races on the ballot. Selectboard members Lisa Davis and Rob Hunt are running unopposed for their seats, as are Addison Central School board members Michele Kelly and Alison Martin.
No one filed a petition for Addison’s vacant seat on the Vergennes Union High School board, but according to Town Clerk Marilla Webb former ACS school board member Laurie Childers was considering a write-in campaign for that job.
Among the charitable contributions residents will see on the Addison ballot is $25,967 for the Bixby Library in Vergennes. The selectboard opted to take the Bixby out of the budget and let voters decide whether Addison should support the library.
The ACS board in January adopted a budget proposal for the 2014-2015 school year that calls for a spending decrease of about 2 percent to roughly $1.534 million and for cutting a full-time teacher and the school’s part-time math instructor. Two classrooms would be merged to allow the teaching position cut.
The board had considered eliminating the school’s food program and cutting the hours of the school custodian, but ultimately elected not to do either, although one food service worker will be cut and the school’s art, physical education and music programs are scaled back in the new proposal. The school’s enrollment has dropped from around 140 a decade ago to a projected figure of about 60 next fall.
The VUHS board agreed in January to a spending hike of almost 3 percent to about $9.78 million, a figure including a separate $50,000 capital investment fund. VUHS must also retire a major deficit due to unanticipated special education spending, and its declining enrollment is pushing per-pupil spending higher.
A projected 7-cent increase in the state property-tax rate is driving school taxes higher in all of Vermont’s communities.
According to ANwSU estimates, the town’s residential school tax rate could rise by about 20.5 cents, or 14.7 percent, to fund both the proposed ACS and VUHS budgets.
If both budgets are approved on Town Meeting Day, Addison homeowners who are not eligible for prebates would be facing an increase of about $205 per $100,000 of assessed value.
According to the Vermont Department of Taxes more than 60 percent of property taxpayers in most towns typically receive prebates. 
Brandon
BRANDON — When they gather at Neshobe Elementary School this Monday at 7 p.m., Brandon residents will vote on a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of construction projects, but the big-ticket items — the town budget and the Neshobe Elementary and Otter Valley Union High school budgets — will be voted on by Australian ballot on Tuesday, Town Meeting Day. Polls will be open at Neshobe Elementary on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
On Monday, those who attend town meeting will decide if the town of Brandon will appropriate $125,000 for the Union Street construction project and $24,000 for engineering of the Wheeler Road bridge project, both of which come with matching funds ($175,000 for Union Street and $96,000 for Wheeler Road).
Also on Monday will be a vote on eliminating the office of lister, which would be replaced by professional assessors appointed by the selectboard, and eliminating the office of town auditor, with future audits performed by a CPA.
Selectboard members will give a presentation on their proposed 2014-2015 town spending plan of $3,276,095. The plan calls for $2,671,420 to be raised by property tax. That represents a 4.1 percent increase in spending but a 14.6 percent increase in taxes.
At a budget meeting this winter, new Town Manager Robin Bennett said the board’s approved budget did not net a double-digit tax hike because of excessive spending, but because the past town manager used previous budget surpluses to “artificially lower” the taxes needed to fund previous spending plans.
As members of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union, Brandon voters on Tuesday will vote on the Otter Valley Union High School’s proposed FY2015 budget, which is $16,351 lower than the current spending plan, and which asks voters to OK spending of $10,525,717.
Perhaps the most noticeable cut in the OV budget proposal came with the elimination of the dean of students position, which saves the school roughly $51,500 in salary. The dean of students position was created two years ago to handle discipline at OV. OV’s special education assessment, historically one of the main culprits behind previous budget increases, is down by roughly $110,000.
Higher energy costs, however, are driving up spending in that area.
The proposed 2014-2015 Neshobe School spending plan of $5,356,775 represents a 2.03 percent increase from the current year. If approved, the equalized tax rate would rise 8.5 percent, from 71 cents to 77 cents. Coupled with the projected tax rate increase for OVUHS from 65 cents to 68 cents, and a very healthy common level of appraisal in Brandon of over 105 percent, the final adjusted equalized tax rate is expected to be $1.37, up four cents. That represents a 3.34 percent increase.
A number of town officers will be up for election on Tuesday, including a four-way race for town clerk, and a former selectman is throwing his hat back into the ring.
With the announced retirement of longtime clerk Bill Dick, current town administrative assistant Anna Scheck, former Selectman Richard Baker, and Brandon residents Sue Gage and Sara-Ann Johnston-Stevens are all vying for the chance to be Brandon’s next town clerk and treasurer.
Baker has also filed to run for two different seats on the selectboard. Baker is challenging incumbent Maria Ammatuna for a three-year seat on the board, and is also running for a one-year seat against Selectman Blaine Cliver. Selectman Ethan Swift is running unopposed for another one-year term.
Art Doty is running for town and school moderator.
On the Neshobe School Board, Devon Fuller is running for re-election to a three-year term, Mike Lufkin is running for re-election to a two-year term, and Debbie Boyce is running for a one-year term.
On the Otter Valley school board, where declining enrollment has led the RNeSU to require only one Brandon representative, Dick White is running for re-election to a three-year term.
Bridport
BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting will be asked to approve some major equipment purchases and a town/highway budget of $1,131,830.
The selectboard wants permission to borrow up to $200,000, to be amortized for up to five years, to purchase a dump truck, plow and sander. The board also wants a green light to borrow up to $100,000 to buy a new tractor and roadside mower.
The proposed town/highway budget of $1,131,830 is down around $150,000 from this year’s spending plan of $1,284,914. But the amount to be raised by taxes is slated to increase from the current $706,549 to $987,105. Selectman Leonard Barrett said the increase in the tax-affecting portion of the budget stems from an accounting error made by town officials last year. He explained that last year’s spending plan should have reflected a combined total of $230,000 in state and federal money Bridport received to replace a Middle Road culvert that had been destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. But the selectboard, town auditor and treasurer did not pick up on the error, hence the appearance this year of a large tax increase.
Voters will be asked to support their fire department to the tune of $12,500, and Town Line First Response for $8,000.
Area social services agencies are seeking a combined total of $18,780 from Bridport voters this year.
Bridport has no contested elections this year. Incumbent Earl Audet and Jerry Forbes are unopposed for terms of two years and three years, respectively, on the town selectboard. That three-year spot is being vacated by Selectman Steve Huestis, who has decided not to run for re-election after more than two decades on the board.
Incumbent Rick Scott is alone in running for a two-year spot on the Bridport Central School board. A three-year term on the ballot has no takers and is available to anyone wishing to embark on a write-in campaign.
Bridport Central School directors are proposing a 2014-2015 budget of $1,464,069, representing a 0.78-percent increase compared to this year. But a decline in Bridport’s common level of appraisal, among other factors, is projected to result in a 13.64-percent increase in the town’s K-12 local homestead education property tax rate. The new rate is projected to be $1.873 per $100 in property value.
Bridport’s town meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 4, in the town’s Community/Masonic Hall. Australian ballot voting will take place the same day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bristol
BRISTOL — Voters in Bristol will convene March 3 at 7 p.m. at Holley Hall for the annual town meeting. Voting by Australian ballot will take place the following day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., also at Holley Hall.
Residents will be asked to approve a number of spending items, including a highway budget of $714,268 and $714,435 general fund budget. The sum of all proposed town expenditures totals $2,178,535, a 2.64 percent increase from the 2013-14 fiscal year.
If approved as warned, this would result in a 2.95 percent property tax increase for residents. The town plans to generate $389,950 in non-tax revenue, leaving $1,788,535 to be footed by taxpayers.
Voters who reside in the police district will also weigh in a proposed budget for the Bristol Police Department of $366,256, a 1.16 percent increase in spending from the previous fiscal year. The department is also asking voters to approve the purchase of a new police cruiser, the funds for which have already been raised.
The town is also asking voters to approve:
•  A budget of $259,649 for the Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, $177,399 of which would be raised by taxes.
•  A budget of $122,128 for the Lawrence Memorial Library, all of which will be raised by taxes.
•  The appropriation of $13,000 to the Bristol Recreation Club, a private entity, to improve the facilities at the Bristol Recreation Field.
•  The appropriation of $10,105 to Addison County Transit Resources.
•  The appropriation of $12,000 to the Bristol Rescue Squad.
Residents will also elect town officials. Incumbents Chris Crodin, Sheryl Thurber and Elin Melchior are seeking re-election uncontested to one-year terms on the Bristol Elementary School Board.
Three residents are seeking to represent Bristol on the Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School board. Carol Eldridge and Alicia Kurth are running for two-year terms, while Douglas Dewitt is seeking a three-year term.
Three people have completed petitions to run for the selectboard. Michelle Perlee and Kris Perlee (Michelle is married to Kris’s cousin) are running for the open three-year seat, while incumbent Sharon Compagna is vying for the open two-year seat. Selectboard member Alan Huizenga decided not to seek another term.
 Fred Baser is running for town agent, town moderator and town school moderator. Chief Kevin Gibbs and Sgt. Randy Crowe are vying for the two town constable posts. Frank Buonincontro will appear on the ballot for the grand juror post.
Two candidates are running to be trustees for the Lawrence Memorial Library. Moira Garrity is seeking the open three-year term, while Mary Yates is running for the two-year term.
Two candidates are running for the two town lister positions. Craig S. Scribner Sr. is vying for the three-year gig, while Theresa Gile is running to fill the one remaining year of the other term. The vacancy was created when longtime lister Claire Scribner, Craig Scribner’s wife, died last year.
Residents will also have the opportunity to vote on the elementary school budget. The Bristol school board has proposed a spending plan of $4,799,307, which represents a 1 percent decrease from the current fiscal year. Non-tax revenues are projected to fall 6.0 percent from the previous year, from $798,479 to $750,314. Per-pupil spending will increase 1.9 percent from $14,296 to $14,567. The estimated tax rate is $1.7085.
Cornwall
CORNWALL — Cornwall residents at their town meeting will be asked to again weigh in on a proposed natural gas pipeline project, as well as vote on a variety of money requests to fund municipal services and public education.
Article 2 on the March 3 warning asks if voters favor the construction of “Phase II” of the so-called Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project. Proposed by Vermont Gas Systems, the $70 million pipeline project would carry natural gas from Middlebury, through Cornwall and Shoreham, under Lake Champlain, to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y. A wide majority of townspeople already indicated opposition to the pipeline through an informal survey mailed to all households last month. The (advisory) town meeting referendum will provide another sampling of public opinion for the Vermont Public Service Board to consider as it evaluates the pipeline proposal.
Residents will decide a proposed general fund budget of $487,511, up from the $446,511 townspeople approved for the current year. Cornwall Town Clerk Sue Johnson said the increase is largely associated with legal services.
Selectboard members are proposing a highway budget of $394,450, up from the $373,800 OK’d for the present year. Johnson said the budget increase is mainly due to a proposed boost in paving resources.
Bingham Memorial School directors have crafted a proposed spending plan of $1,451,290, a 5.31-percent increase compared to this year. School officials are forecasting a local, K-12 homestead education property tax rate of $1.61 per $100 for Cornwall, which would represent a 7.69 percent hike. The budget is expected to drive a $115.03 tax increase per $100,000 in property value, according to district figures.
The school ballot will feature an additional item asking residents if they’d like to sell the old, vacant town schoolhouse on South Bingham Street. The property has been assessed locally at $22,600.
There are no contested elections in this year’s ballot. David Sears and Benjamin Marks are unopposed for terms of three years and two years, respectively, on the selectboard. No one has stepped forward to run for a two-year term on the local school board.
Other articles on the warning seek:
•  Voter feedback on what to do with a $37,138 surplus from fiscal year 2013.
•  $56,600 for the local fire department.
•  $15,000 to allow the fire department to install 9-1-1 signs for the remaining unmarked Cornwall residences.
•  $4,000 for the local library.
•  A combined total of $22,103 to assist various Addison County nonprofits.
Cornwall’s annual meeting will be held at the Bingham Memorial School on Monday, March 3, 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. 
Ferrisburgh
FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh residents on Town Meeting Day will decide races for town clerk and treasurer and make a series of budget decisions, including whether to change the way and amount the town’s delinquent tax collector will be paid, possibly on how the town office should be staffed, and on higher Ferrisburgh Central School spending.
Australian balloting will be held on March 4 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the central school gymnasium on the Ferrisburgh Central and Vergennes Union High school budgets and the race for town offices, plus a series of uncontested races.
Residents will gather in the central school gym at 10 a.m. to conduct the rest of the town business, including deciding on the Ferrisburgh selectboard’s $1,660,779 town spending proposal — which will include the delinquent tax collector question and a proposal for the clerk and treasurer positions to be part-time — and other town meeting articles.
That spending proposal, not including $30,840 for charitable contributions, would represent a 1.3 percent budget increase, according to town officials, while triggering a hike in the municipal tax rate of less than a penny.
That proposed budget includes $3,000 for the delinquent tax collector, down from about $17,000 this year. Current Town Clerk and Treasurer Chet Hawkins, who told the selectboard on Jan. 28 he would step down from both of those positions as of March 4, filed a petition to retain that post.
Now, wages for the post consist of an amount equal to the 8 percent penalty that late taxpayers are assessed; town officials said that pay amounted to about $17,000 during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The selectboard’s budget includes $20,800 for the treasurer and town clerk positions, enough to pay them $15 an hour for 20-hour weeks. The selectboard also included, however, a $24,000 contingency salary line item that could allow the board to increase their hours.
Assistant Clerk Pam Cousino and Chet Hawkins had been working 40 hours apiece, and town officials had said help was needed in the town office. Cousino and Hawkins have said they are not sure the new arrangement is sustainable, while the selectboard believes bringing in a qualified treasurer will ease the workload and save money.
Candidates filed for the town clerk and treasurer’s posts before the Jan. 27 deadline. Chet Hawkins’ grandson, David Hawkins, a sergeant and information analyst in the Army National Guard, is on the ballot seeking the town clerk post. Garrit Smits, who has an accounting degree, is on the ballot for the treasurer’s job.
Both are facing a write-in challenge from Gloria Warden, wife of Selectman Jim Warden. Gloria Warden is a longtime employee of the town of Charlotte, with experience in the treasurer’s and planning and zoning offices.
The selectboard also cut the Bixby Library’s in-budget funding from $52,559 to $39,000. That decision came despite residents’ decision at 2013’s town meeting to increase the Bixby’s support from $39,000 to $52,559; they have the option of doing so again.
Cousino said there are small increases scattered around the budget, which includes $763,748 for road spending, plus one significant increase — $21,000 for anticipated interest on the bond to fund the new town highway shed that residents backed in December.
The selectboard is also proposing a town meeting time change from Tuesdays to Saturdays, at the request of the central school board. The school board is concerned that town meeting poses security problems at the school and also disrupts the school day.
Although there are no other contested races in Ferrisburgh, there will be new town school directors.
Central school board chairman David Tatlock did not file for another two years. George Gardner, a North Ferrisburgh resident, is seeking that two-year seat on the FCS board. Running unopposed for another three years on the FCS board is incumbent Christopher Kayhart.
Also stepping down is Laurie Gutowski, Ferrisburgh’s longtime representative on the VUHS board. No one filed for her seat, and unless there is a successful write-in candidate the selectboard will appoint someone for a one-year term on that board.
Two incumbent selectmen will run unopposed for re-election: Warden is seeking another three years, and Steve Gutowski filed for a two-year term.
The FCS board in January adopted a budget proposal for the 2014-2015 school year that calls for an increase of almost 11 percent to $3.62 million and adds a new teacher and a modular classroom to help handle a large blended 5th- and 6th-grade class. Part of the FCS increase also comes from an accounting shift in the cost of special education within ANwSU, which this year has the effect of raising spending at ANwSU elementary schools.
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union officials and the FCS administration did not recommend the addition of the teacher and the classroom.
The VUHS board agreed in January to a spending hike of almost 3 percent to about $9.78 million, a figure including a separate $50,000 capital investment fund. VUHS must also retire a major deficit due to unanticipated special education spending, and its declining enrollment is pushing per-pupil spending higher.
A projected 7-cent increase in the state property-tax rate is driving school taxes higher in all of Vermont’s communities.
According to ANwSU estimates, the town’s residential school tax rate could rise by about 23 cents, or 16 percent, to fund both the proposed FCS and VUHS budgets.
If both budgets are approved on Town Meeting Day, Ferrisburgh homeowners who are not eligible for prebates would be facing an increase of about $230 per $100,000 of assessed value.
According to the Vermont Department of Taxes more than 60 percent of town property taxpayers typically receive prebates.
Goshen
GOSHEN — At their town meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. in the town hall, residents in tiny Goshen will consider town spending that is proposed to increase slightly in the coming year, and school spending that is still up in the air.
On Tuesday, voters will be able to cast ballots at the town hall between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on a slate of town officials and on the Otter Valley Union High School budget. The only contested election is for the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union directory, where incumbent Irene Rubbins faces Dave Bishop, who has served on the school board in the past but doesn’t at present. Selectboard chair David Gale is running unopposed.
At Monday evening’s meeting, residents will consider the two warned municipal spending items: a sum of $215,285 to defray general expenses and $134,200 to cover highway spending. Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon said last year’s warning featured only a general expenses figure, which also encompassed highway spending; residents OK’d $334,443 in municipal spending at the 2013 town meeting. That means the town and highway spending they will be asked to consider this Monday ($349,485) represents an increase of just over $15,000, or 4.5 percent.
The Goshen school board does not warn a spending number before the annual meeting. Goshen, of course, doesn’t have its own school, and it tuitions schoolchildren to schools in other towns. Last year 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. McKinnon said that same step will likely be voted on at this year’s meeting.
Granville
GRANVILLE — At their town meeting on March 4, Granville residents will cast ballots on 11 town offices and decide whether to approve proposed municipal, highway and school spending plans. When they gather at the Granville Town Hall on Tuesday evening residents will also consider several other articles relating to road maintenance and repayment of the local match of FEMA expenses.
The proposed municipal budget for the next fiscal year comes in at $278,611, an increase of $17,590, or 6.7 percent, from the current year. The town will vote on a proposed highway budget of $121,056, an increase of $2,000, or 1.5 percent, from the current year.
Townspeople will decide whether to instruct the selectboard to seek a charter change to accommodate a full-time appraiser to oversee the town lister’s office.
The proposed school spending plan that will be considered is set at $602,640. That represents an increase of $72,423, or 13.7 percent, over the current year’s school budget of $530,217.
Other articles on the Granville town meeting agenda seek:
•  $13,500 to purchase gravel from Granville Manufacturing Company Inc. to stockpile for use on town roads.
•  $10,000 to upgrade Old Stage Road from a Class 4 town highway to a maintained Class 3 town highway. This item and the cost of the gravel are not included in the highway budget. 
•  $20,000 to repay the local match of the FEMA expenses toward paying off a $121,816 loan.
•  Authorization for the selectboard to post the former Robert Akin property for sale.
The meeting will be held at the town hall, starting with the school board meeting at 5 p.m., followed by a dinner break at 6. The town meeting will be at 6:30 with voting done from the floor. 
Hancock
HANCOCK — On Town Meeting Day, Hancock residents will consider proposed town spending that is lower than that approved last year and school spending that represents a substantial hike.
School directors are asking for a big increase in spending on education. Hancock, of course, does not have its own school and pays the tuitions for local children to attend school in other towns. Last year voters on Town Meeting Day rejected a school spending proposal of $880,000. This year directors are asking for $993,089. School directors are expected to point to increased costs for special education and tuition as drivers of the increase.
Hancock’s proposed general and highway spending plan for 2014-2015 is $326,842, a decrease of 8.7 percent from the $356,277 spending plan approved last year.
Among individual appropriations, Hancock residents will vote on a $31,654 appropriation for White River Valley Ambulance, $2,460 for the Quin-Town Senior Center, and $1,475 for the Visiting Nurse Alliance of VT/NH Inc.
Town offices are filled at town meeting, some by paper ballot. Among the spots up for election are a three-year term on the Hancock selectboard (Selectman John Ross’s term expires on Town Meeting Day and he said he will stand for re-election) and a three-year term on the school board (director Denise Goodnow’s term expires next week and Town Clerk and Treasurer Sara Deering said Goodnow likely will not seek re-election). Deering herself will be up for re-election for the posts she was elected to at last year’s town meeting.
The annual town meeting will be held at the Hancock Town Hall on March 6, beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing until business is concluded. The school meeting will be held immediately after the conclusion of town meeting. 
Leicester
LEICESTER — The selectboard and school directors in Leicester are floating 2014-2015 budgets that propose single-digit spending increases. At the town meeting next Monday and in Australian ballot voting on Tuesday residents will be asked to approve those budgets, as well as a slate of town offices that are uncontested.
The school board proposed a 2014-2015 spending plan of $1,146,359. That represents an increase of $28,719, or 2.6 percent, over the school spending plan approved last April. Residents rejected the school budget on Town Meeting Day last year, and directors cut $9,881 out of it and the budget passed on the second try.
The Leicester selectboard proposed a 2014 Town/Highway budget of $527,497, which is up $25,251, or 4.8 percent, over last year’s budget.
The highway portion of the budget shows a marked increase in road materials due to the already harsh winter weather. In an effort to reduce the impact of increases in sand, salt and labor, the selectboard chose to suspend the annual $20,000 transfer to the Equipment Fund for calendar year 2014.
The town portion of the budget shows noteworthy increases in fire coverage, insurance, cemetery costs, and future audit fees. The largest increase in the town budget is due to an increase in the Fire Protection Contract with the Brandon Fire District. The 2012-2013 contract at $20,000 per year ran out on Dec. 31, 2013. The Brandon Fire District did a multi-year analysis of the actual calls associated with Leicester vs. other towns covered. It was determined that Leicester accounted for, on average, 16 percent of the calls. Based on the previous budgets, that would equate to about $34,000 per year. Negotiations between the Leicester selectboard and Brandon Fire Chief Wdowiak (and the Fire District Board) resulted in a three-year contract for $32,000 per year.
The Leicester selectboard said in a press release that in 2013 Leicester had the lowest municipal tax rate in Addison County.
Selectman Ken Young will seek another two-year term and incumbent Selectman Ron Fiske is running for another three years on the selectboard. Incumbent school board members Hannah Sessions (three-year term) and Matt Brush (two years) are also running uncontested. Mark Raishart is the only newcomer on the ballot; he is seeking the one remaining year of a three-year term on the Leicester School Board.
Town Clerk and Treasurer Julie Delphia is running for an additional three years in those jobs.
The Leicester town meeting gets under way at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Leicester Meeting House. The school budget will be presented at town meeting and decided by Australian ballot during the March 4 voting hours. 
Lincoln
LINCOLN — Lincoln voters will consider 21 articles at their town meeting, which will convene at 6 p.m. on March 3 at Burnham Hall.
The big-ticket items to be discussed that evening are the Highway Fund and General Fund. Proposed Highway Fund spending of $1,027,043 is 19 percent higher than the budget for the current fiscal year. This difference is in part due to the proposed addition of another administrative staff member to manage road projects. If approved, $806,720 of the highway budget would be raised by taxes.
The proposed General Fund budget is $332,239, which represents a 2.3 percent spending increase from the current fiscal year. Of that sum, $248,781 would be raised from taxes.
Residents will also be asked to approve the appropriation of:
•  $44,000 to fund the Lincoln Library.
•  $55,896 for the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company.
•  $6,000 for the Bristol Rescue Squad.
•  $12,795 to fund a litany of social service agencies.
At the annual school portion of Monday’s meeting, voters will also consider an annual budget for the Lincoln Community School of $2,035,917, which represents a 6.9 percent spending increase from the previous fiscal year. They will also consider a Mount Abraham Union High School spending plan of $14,091,304, a 2 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
The Mount Abe budget vote will take place on Tuesday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., at Burnham Hall. Voters also will elect town officials by Australian ballot at the same time.
There are two contested races on the Lincoln ballot. For two one-year seats on the selectboard, three candidates are running: incumbents Paul Forlenza and Elwin Isham and challenger Will Sipsey. For second constable, Josh Otey is challenging Mark Truax.
Only one candidate per position will appear on the ballot for the following offices: Will Sipsey for town and school moderator, Sally Ober for town clerk, George Vince for grand juror and town agent, Lisa Trunchon for treasurer and lister, Bill Finger for selectboard (three-year term), Jen Oldham for Lincoln Community School board (three-year term), Mary Beth Stillwell for Lincoln Community School board (two-year term), Ari Kirshenbaum for Lincoln Community School board (to fill one year remaining on a three-year term), Sandra Lee for Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School board (three year term), Jim Lienau and Ruth Shepherd for two seats as library trustees and Nancy Stevens as delinquent tax collector. All are incumbents except Kirshenbaum, Lee and Shepherd.
No candidate will appear on the ballot for the position of auditor.
Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury voters will have no shortage of issues drawing them to the polls on Town Meeting Day, beginning with a much-debated proposal to build a new municipal building and recreation center.
Article 6 on the March 4 ballot asks voters to support a $6.5 million plan to build a new, 9,400-square-foot town office building at 77 Main St. and a new 11,500-square-foot recreation center on land off Creek Road. The new structures would replace the current municipal building and gym at 94 Main St. The plan calls for Middlebury College to acquire the 94 Main St. property, and another town-owned parcel at 6 Cross St. on which to relocate its Osborne House from 77 Main St. In exchange, the college would assume $4.5 million in debt service on the two new town buildings, leaving $2 million for Middlebury taxpayers to subsidize. The college would also pay the town $1 million to raze 94 Main St. and to relocate the Osborne House.
The proposal has drawn criticism from some residents who believe the town should rebuild or renovate the municipal building and gym at 94 Main St. Two of those residents — Michael and Judy Olinick — successfully petitioned to have Article 9 placed on the warning, a non-binding referendum asking voters if they’d like to direct the selectboard to rebuild or renovate its town offices and gym on-site.
Articles 7 and 8 on the warning ask voters to authorize bond issues of up to $200,000 and $500,000, respectively, to install a new roof at the Ilsley Library and round out financing for a proposed tunnel that will replace the Merchants Row and Main Street railroad overpasses. The Ilsley Library roof is deteriorating and its attic requires insulation, according to town officials. The Main Street/Merchants Row tunnel was to be financed exclusively with state and federal money, but there are some components of the project that don’t qualify for full federal/state coverage, leaving the town with a potential liability of $500,000. Local officials are optimistic that the $500,000 sum will eventually be reduced through successful application for “alternative sources of funding.”
Articles 6 through 9, along with a slate of municipal and school elections, will be decided by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day — Tuesday, March 4, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the municipal gym. The ballot features eight residents vying for three posts on the Middlebury selectboard. Incumbent Selectman Dean George and resident Heather Seeley are running for a one-year term on the board. Incumbent Selectman Craig Bingham and residents Ted Davis, John Freidin, Eric Murray, Laura Asermily and Brian Carpenter are in the mix for two, three-year terms.
The other local race features Jim Callahan, Amy Graham, Jennifer McCarthy and incumbent Lorraine Gonzalez Morse competing for three seats on the ID-4 school board.
Articles 1 through 5 will be decided at the annual meeting, slated for Monday, March 3, at 7 p.m., at the town gym. The main decision item at that gathering will include a proposed 2014-2015 municipal budget of $9,153,360, representing a 2.2-percent spending increase compared to this year. If all of the money items on this year’s warning are approved, it would have the effect of adding 3.8 cents to Middlebury’s municipal tax rate.
Unlike other communities in Addison County, Middlebury won’t be deciding its 2014-15 elementary school budget at town meeting. The Mary Hogan Elementary School budget will be decided in April at the ID-4 annual meeting. The ID-4 board on April 9 is slated to discuss a proposed 2014-2015 Mary Hogan Elementary budget draft of $6,647,165, representing a 3.56-percent increase compared to this year.
Middlebury voters on March 4 will join other Addison Central Supervisory Union towns in voting on a proposed 2014-2015 spending plan of $17,064,779 for Middlebury Union middle and high schools, a budget that reflects an overall 2.89-percent increase compared to this year and allows MUMS to maintain a four-team teaching structure.
Monkton
MONKTON — Monkton voters will gather at the Monkton Central School at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 4, to weigh in on the 15 articles on the town warning.
Principally, voters will be asked to approve $1,170,332 for town expenses such as salaries, highway expenses, and the Monkton Volunteer Fire Department. This represents a 2.5 percent decrease in town spending from the previous fiscal year.
They’ll also be asked to give the OK to:
•  The appropriation of $21,224 for social service agencies such as the Bristol Rescue Squad, Green Up Vermont and the Homeward Bound Humane Society.
•  The adoption of the proposed new town plan to replace the old plan, which expired in 2012.
•  The establishment of a $3,500 salary to compensate the town collector of delinquent taxes.
•  The appropriation of not more than $100,000 to purchase a new bucket loader.
•  The denouncement of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project, which plans to run a pipeline through town.
Residents will also have the opportunity to elect town officials by Australian ballot from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4.
There is only one contested race on the ballot, for the one-year term on the Monkton Central School board. Voters may select up to two of the following three candidates: Marikate Kelley, Bailee Layn-Gordon and Jennifer Stanley. Kelley and Stanley are the incumbents.
Only one candidate per position will appear on the ballot for the following offices: Kenneth Wheeling for town moderator and school moderator, John Howard for lister, Ivor Hughes for a one-year term on the planning commission, Janet Cassarino for auditor, Wendy Sue Harper for the three-year planning commission term, Sharon Gomez for town and school clerk, Charles Huizenga Sr. for constable, Gretchen Beaupre and Suzanne Ledoux each for a three-year term as library trustee, William Joos for town and school treasurer and also delinquent tax collector, incumbent Anne Layn for a three-year term on the selectboard, Henry Boisse for a two-year selectboard term, and Kristin Blanchette for a three-year term on the Monkton Central School Board. No candidate will appear on the ballot for grand juror or town agent.
Voters are also asked to approve an elementary school budget of $2,578,248, which represents a spending decrease of 1.16 percent from the previous fiscal year. If approved as warned, the school budget would necessitate a tax rate of $1.9069.
New Haven
NEW HAVEN — New Haven voters will meet at the Town Hall on Monday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss, among other things, whether to make real estate taxes due on Oct. 1, with delinquent taxes subject to an 8 percent penalty and 1 percent interest per month.
Most New Haven town business is completed by Australian ballot. On Tuesday, March 4, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., voters will elect town officials and decide whether to adopt town and school budgets through Australian ballot voting.
Voters in New Haven will be asked to weigh in on a total of 25 articles. The big-ticket items are the Road Fund and General Fund budgets. The proposed Road Fund budget of $1,178,673, of which $595,237 would be raised by taxes, is nearly 8 percent lower than the spending plan for the current fiscal year.
The proposed General Fund budget of $660,764, of which $385,689 would be raised by taxes, is just less than 2 percent higher than the budget for the current fiscal year.
Voters will also asked to approve the appropriation of:
•  $1,075 to the John W. Graham Emergency Shelter Services.
•  $4,211 to Addison Country Regional Transit to improve public transportation in the town.
•  $1,250 to WomenSafe Inc. to support their mission to eliminate physical, sexual and emotional violence against women and children.
New Haven residents will also elect town officials. There is only one contested race this year, for the town lister position. Karen Gallott faces Heather Morse in that matchup. Neither are incumbents. There are also two vacancies on the library board of trustees no candidate has yet expressed an interest in filling.
Only one candidate per position will appear on the ballot for the following offices: Sylviasue Ford for delinquent tax collector, Earl Bessette and Tim Bouton for grand jurors, Pam Marsh for moderator, Carole Hall for the selectboard (two-year term), Doug Tolles for the selectboard (three-year term), and Tim Bouton for town agent.
No candidates filed for vacancies on the Beeman Elementary and Mount Abraham Union Middle/High school boards.
The proposed 2014-2015 spending plan for Beeman Elementary is slightly less than $1.8 million, which represents a drop of 4.93 percent compared to this year. Outside revenue is expected to fall 19.66 percent from last year, from $393,946 to $316,501, and per-pupil spending would increase 2.68 percent from $14,800 to $15,196. If passed as warned, the school budget will necessitate a school tax rate of $1.5966.
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.
Selectboard Chair Roland “Ted” Simmons said the Orwell selectboard will offer a proposed municipal spending plan that is slightly lower than the $973,176 plan that voters OK’d at last year’s town meeting. He said the amount that will need to be raised in taxes is down by an even bigger margin — $40,000.
He said the board could reduce spending in large part because the town had paid off two long-term notes it held.
“Also we didn’t have to buy any more salt and sand,” Simmons added.
There will be discussion at the meeting on a matter that could cost taxpayers additional money in coming years. The selectboard put $50,000 in its budget to repair the town’s 32-year-old grader, but after doing some research selectmen want to see if townspeople instead would like to simply replace the machine. Simmons said they’ve seen some advertised for $180,000-$200,000, and board members will discuss their options at town meeting.
Residents will also decide on appropriations to 13 social service agencies.
Meanwhile, school directors are floating a spending plan that is slightly larger than last year’s. Voters will weigh in on an Orwell Village School spending plan of $1,709,645, which represents an increase of $13,270, or less than 1 percent, from last year.
Orwell residents will also decide whether to hold the 2015 annual school meeting on the first Monday evening in March, the night before the town meeting.
Residents will vote by Australian ballot at town hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in elections for 17 town officials.
On the ballot for Orwell school director are three incumbents: Glen Cousineau (three-year term), Sarah Tetzlaff (two years) and Amy Roy (one year). Stephanie Bruyneel-Corey is running for a Fair Haven Union High School director.
Incumbent Selectman Roland Simmons is on the ballot for re-election to a three-year spot on the selectboard; newcomer Bob Fields is seeking a one-year term on that board. Selectman Ron Huntley has chosen not to seek re-election.
Panton
PANTON — Panton residents will decide from the floor of town meeting how to handle essentially level-funded town spending proposals and to fill expiring terms on several boards, and then weigh in by Australian ballot on a proposed charter change and on union school budgets that could drive taxes higher.
Town meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on March 4 in Panton Town Hall, and Australian balloting will be conducted there from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The charter change, proposed by the Panton selectboard, would give that board the power to appoint Panton’s town clerk, treasurer and delinquent tax collector rather than have them chosen from the floor of Panton’s annual town meeting.
Per state law, if voters back that change to Panton’s land grant charter, the Vermont Legislature would still have to approve it before it could take effect.
The charter change proposal would make Panton one of the few towns in the state not to have an elected town clerk.
Selectmen said they are happy with all current employees, but are concerned about the future, specifically the lack of direct town employee accountability to the town’s governing body.
They note town clerks set office operating hours, not the selectboard; the treasurer’s position is becoming increasingly complex, requiring compliance with more mandates from state government and investment knowledge; and that it could be difficult to find a suitable elected treasurer given the town’s small population, about 700, if the position was restricted to residents by election requirements.
The selectboard also believes employees would have more job security under this system, rather than having to worry about a small number of unhappy residents packing a town meeting and voting them out.
According to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, appointed town clerks are relatively rare, while appointed treasurers are more common, especially in the state’s larger towns and cities.
Several terms of elected officers do expire this March, those of current selectboard chairman John Viskup; Jason Fearon, the town’s representative on the Vergennes Union Elementary School board; auditor J. Douglas Dows (another spot on the board of auditors is now vacant and nominations will be sought); Vergennes-Panton Water District commissioner Meddie Perrie; and listers Cheryl McEwen and Beverly Biello.
Also from the floor of town meeting, residents will consider the selectboard’s proposed town budget of $603,961, which is up by about $2,000 from a year ago, and $59,000 in five Town Reserve Funds, including $20,000 apiece for highway equipment and capital projects and $15,000 for Panton Town Hall restoration.
Also on the ballot is $8,551 of charitable requests, up by about $600 from last year. If residents back all town spending requests, the total would increase by about $1,600 to $671,512.
The VUES board in January adopted a budget proposal for the 2014-2015 school year that calls for an increase of about $178,000, or 4.34 percent, to roughly $4.26 million. The board is also seeking $15,000 for its annual capital improvement fund request, $10,000 less than a year ago.
Most of the increase in the VUES budget proposal comes from an accounting shift for the cost of special education within the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union, which this year has the effect of raising spending at ANwSU elementary schools. According to ANwSU officials, that factor added $170,000 to the spending side of the VUES budget, although some of that will be recouped by increased revenue from the state’s share of special education costs.
The VUES budget includes a boost in the hours of the school’s math specialist from a 60 percent position to full-time. That teacher is now also working at Addison Central School on a part-time basis, but is projected to lose her hours in that school’s 2014-2015 budget.
The Vergennes Union High School board agreed in January to a spending hike of almost 3 percent to about $9.78 million, a figure including a separate $50,000 capital investment fund. VUHS must also retire a major deficit due to unanticipated special education spending, and its declining enrollment is pushing per-pupil spending higher.
A projected 7-cent increase in the state property-tax rate is driving school taxes higher in all of Vermont’s communities.
According to ANwSU estimates, the town’s residential school tax rate could rise by about 19.25 cents, or 14.6 percent, to fund both the proposed VUES and VUHS budgets.
If both budgets are approved on Town Meeting Day, Panton homeowners who are not eligible for prebates would be facing an increase of about $192 per $100,000 of assessed value. 
Ripton
RIPTON — Ripton residents at their town meeting will decide one contested race for a selectboard that they will also be asked to expand from the current three, to five members.
A citizen has petitioned to place article 6 on the warning, which requests the additional two positions be added to the selectboard. If article 6 passes, the two new positions would be filled at the 2015 town meeting — unless a special election is called beforehand. Ripton residents voted down an identical question a few years ago. Advocates for the move believe Ripton could use a five-member board to keep on top of an increasing workload and to enhance chances of maintaining a quorum at meetings.
The contested race is between incumbent Selectwoman Laureen Cox and challenger Perry Hanson. Laura McIntosh and Giles Hoyler are running unopposed for terms of three years and two years, respectively, on the local school board. Incumbent UD-3 school board member Jerry Shedd has no challengers for another three-year term on the UD-3 board.
Ripton officials are transitioning the town to a fiscal year budgeting system. That means the proposed highway budget of $349,650 and requested general fund spending plan of $382,652 reflect 18 months of expenses, not the usual 12 months. The current year’s highway budget is $294,679, while the general fund budget is $266,637. Ripton Town Clerk Sally Hoyler said a true comparison of the proposed budgets does not reveal a lot of big increases, though the community is hoping to invest a little more in maintenance of its community buildings.
Ripton Elementary School directors are proposing a 2014-2015 spending plan of $894,399, which would be a 10.57-percent increase compared to this year. Officials noted that part of Ripton’s budget increase is associated with debt service on its new roof and solar panel project, OK’d by voters last year.
Ripton school is expecting around three fewer local enrollees, for a projected total of 35 students in the next school year. That drop in enrollment, changes to the federal Title 1 program and assessment for a new Addison Central Supervisory Union facilities manager position all helped drive up the budget, according to ACSU officials.
Ripton is expecting seven tuition students next year. Those students, from various Route 100 communities, are expected to add $119,000 to the schools’ coffers
Ripton’s K-12 local homestead education property tax rate is expected to increase by 12.78 percent, to a total of $1.80 per $100 in property value. The budget is expected to drive a $204.92 tax increase per $100,000 in property value, according to district figures.
Other articles on Ripton’s town meeting agenda seek:
•  $54,500 to support the Ripton Fire Department and Ripton First Response.
•  Official dissolution of the defunct Ripton Cemetery Association and creation of a new commission that will oversee the community’s four public cemeteries.
•  A combined total of $15,730 in support for various Addison County-based nonprofits.
Ripton town meeting will be held on Monday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ripton Community House. Australian ballot voting will take place the following day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Ripton town office.
Salisbury
SALISBURY — Salisbury residents at their town meeting will decide three contested elections and determine whether to take the next step in renovating their town hall.
The ballot features races between incumbent Town Moderator Wayne Smith and challenger Mary Anne Sullivan for a one-year term; incumbent Selectman Jack Beasley and challenger Martha Sullivan for a three-year term; and incumbent Lister Daniel Kuczynski and Mary Anne Sullivan for a one-year term. Meanwhile, Selectman John Rouse and Salisbury School Director Craig Carpenter have no challengers for two-year terms on their respective boards. A three-year term on the Salisbury Community School Board currently has no takers, while Timothy Ryan has no competition for a one-year term on that panel.
Voters will be asked to support a proposed general fund budget of $202,067, up from the current spending plan of $189,915. The proposed highway budget comes in at $392,359, up slightly from the current budget of $390,878.
The other major money item on the warning is a request to seek up to $141,200 in financing for a 2015 International dump truck for the highway department. The purchase would be made through a combination of a low-interest loan from the state, a commercial bank loan and money from the town’s equipment reserve fund.
Residents will also be asked to spend $7,500 to hire a consultant to help plan the next steps in renovating Salisbury’s town hall. That consultant would prepare a financing plan and grant application material to maximize the potential for federal, state and private grants to help underwrite costs of a project.
Local school directors are proposing a 2014-2015 budget of $1,624,142, representing a 4.08-percent increase compared to the current year. Officials are projecting a K-12 local homestead education property tax rate of $1.73 for Salisbury, which would represent a 4.78-percent increase. The budget is expected to drive a $78.98 tax increase per $100,000 in property value, according to district figures.
Salisbury’s annual school warning will feature three other articles. One seeks permission for the school to borrow, at no interest, $28,000 from Green Mountain Power’s Evergreen Fund to retrofit Salisbury Community School’s building with energy efficient lighting. Another article seeks use of up to $30,000 in school reserve funds to perform restroom renovations. The third article seeks to consolidate the school’s education reserve funds into a single account.
In other town meeting-related business, Salisbury voters will be asked to support:
•  $33,000 for the town fire department.
•  A combined total of $33,685 for various Addison County nonprofits.
Town meeting will be held on Monday, March 3, at 7 p.m. in the Salisbury Community School. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the town office. 
Shoreham
SHOREHAM — This year Shoreham boasts a very busy town meeting warning that includes two contested races and several petitioned article relating to municipal planning and the proposed Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project.
The contested races this year involve incumbent Selectman Robert Warren, who is being challenged by resident Barbara Wilson for a three-year term; and incumbent Shoreham School Director Michelle Matot, who will face challenger Lance Wood in a race for a two-year term.
The warning features six articles successfully petitioned by local residents.
Those articles ask:
•  If voters should have final approval (by Australian ballot) of changes to the local town plan.
•  If an Australian ballot vote should be held for voters to have a final say over proposed changes to the municipal bylaws.
•  Whether voters favor Vermont Gas’s proposed “Phase II” pipeline that would extend from Middlebury, through Cornwall and Shoreham, under Lake Champlain to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y.
•  If the town should have a public hearing to weigh in on a proposed memorandum of understanding between Shoreham and Vermont Gas before it is signed by the selectboard.
•  Whether the town should postpone giving a position in favor, or against, the pipeline until after the first Vermont Public Service Board public hearing on the project.
•  Whether the selectboard should be instructed to delay, until after the first PSB hearing, negotiating a memorandum of understanding with Vermont Gas related to the pipeline.
Residents will decide a proposed municipal highway budget of $633,340, up from the $613,114 approved by voters last year.
The general fund proposal comes in at $267,219, up from this year’s spending plan of $246,803.
Local school directors are pitching a 2014-2015 budget of $1,497,832, which would be a 2.04 percent increase compared to this year. Officials are anticipating a K-12 local homestead education property tax rate of $1.626, representing a 3.95-percent increase. The proposed budget includes $9,500 for a new Internet service provider that would add bandwidth to the school’s service.
Shoreham’s annual school meeting warning will include some additional articles. Among them: The proposed borrowing of up to $18,000 in interest-free funds from Green Mountain Power for an energy efficiency retrofit; consolidation of fund balance into a single education reserve account; and placing $20,000 in fund balance into the education reserve account.
The school budget is expected to drive a $61.92 tax increase per $100,000 in property value, according to district figures.
In other action at their town meeting, Shoreham residents will vote on requests for:
•  Up to $200,000 for the purchase of a new road grader. The selectboard has proposed that $110,000 of the expense be financed over five years, with $20,000 to be paid through new taxes and the balance to be defrayed with money on hand in other highway department accounts.
•  $8,500 to add to the town’s reserve fund for fire/rescue vehicles and equipment.
•  A transfer of $8,500 from the general fund to the fire/rescue vehicles and equipment fund.
•  $4,500 for fireworks for the annual Shoreham Festival.
•  Approval of the proposed slate of zoning regulations.
•  A combined total of $19,820 for various Addison County nonprofits.
In uncontested elections, incumbent Paul Saenger and resident Loren Wood are each seeking terms of one year on the selectboard; incumbent Julie Ortuno is seeking a one-year term as town clerk, a position to which she was recently appointed; and incumbent Will Stevens is seeking another one-year term as town moderator. Kathleen Brisson said she was running a write-in campaign for town treasurer.
Shoreham town meeting will be held on Monday, March 3, at 6 p.m. at the Shoreham school. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the town office. 
Starksboro
STARKSBORO — Starksboro voters will gather at the Robinson Elementary School on Saturday, March 1, at 9 a.m. to discuss 13 articles for their town meeting and four articles related to the school.
Residents will be asked to approve a proposed general fund budget that expends $735,262, less $202,050 in revenue and a previous surplus of $21,271, for a total amount of $511,941. This is a  $9,612 increase from the previous fiscal year.
Residents will also be asked to:
•  Appropriate $31,970 to the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund (an increase of $1,642 from last year).
•  Appropriate $90,570 to the Road Equipment Reserve Fund (an increase of $3.980 from last year).
•  To permit the Robinson Elementary School Board to issue bonds not to exceed $100,000 to finance the cost of roof repairs to be repaid over five years.
Starksboro voters will also be asked to OK a proposed budget of $2,650,857 for Robinson Elementary School, which represents an increase of 2.48 percent from the previous year. School officials said non-tax revenue is projected to decrease from last year, from $430,319 to $384,810. Per-pupil spending will increase 9.28 percent from $13,065 to $14,277.
If approved as warned, the school tax rate would be $1.6646 per $100 of property value.
Residents will vote for town officials by Australian ballot on Tuesday, March 4, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at the school.
There are no contested races in Starksboro this year. Only one candidate per position will appear on the ballot for the following offices: Dan Dubenetsky for town and school district moderator, Daniel Harris and Daniel Nugent for two positions on the planning commission, Eric Cota for constable, Jim Runcie for town agent, Peter Marsh for the selectboard (three-year term), Louis Dupont for Robinson Elementary School board, Jacob Hansen for lister, Bonita Bedard and Jodi Bachand for two positions on the Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School board, Amy McCormick for delinquent tax collector, Peter Ryersbach for auditor (three-year term), Norman Cota for cemetery commissioner and Judith Kessler and Chris Runcie for two positions as library trustees.
No candidates will appear on the ballot for the positions of grand juror, second constable, or auditor (two-year term).
Vergennes
VERGENNES — Three Vergennes City Council incumbents and two former aldermen are vying on Town Meeting Day in a five-way race for three seats on the council, and residents will also weigh in on Vergennes Union high and elementary school budgets.
Vergennes residents will gather at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 3, in the Vergennes Opera House to discuss city business. Then, on March 4 polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the city fire station for city residents to decide the contested races for city council.
On the Town Meeting Day ballot, incumbents Ziggy Comeau, Renny Perry and Lynn Donnelly will face challengers Peter Garon and former mayor Michael Daniels.
Comeau, a real estate broker, was first appointed to the board in 2005 and has won re-election ever since.
Perry served a half-dozen years as the Vergennes city manager, has served as city manager in two other states, and was elected as an alderman and mayor of Dover, N.H. He was elected to the council in 2012.
Donnelly, a real estate broker and former Panton selectwoman, was appointed to the city council last April to fill a vacancy created when Mayor Bill Benton, then on the council, was elected mayor.
Garon, a Vergennes Area Rescue Squad veteran who was recently hired as the Northlands Job Corps human resources director, was elected to the council in 2011 on his third try, but failed to win re-election this past March.
Daniels, a longtime member of the Vergennes Fire Department and a recently retired state employee, served several years on the city council this past decade before stepping down, and then returned to politics to serve six years as mayor, from 2007 to 2013.
The three top vote-getters will each earn three-year terms.
There are no contested races elsewhere, and two positions are going begging: No one filed petitions for three-year openings on the city’s board of auditors or on the board of the Vergennes-Panton Water District.
Incumbent VUES director Tara Brooks filed for another three-year term and is running unopposed, as is incumbent VUHS director Christopher Cousino for a two-year term.
There are no ballot initiatives, and the city council will craft the city’s annual budget in June for a fiscal year that begins on July 1.
The rest of the Vergennes Town Meeting Day warning includes charitable contributions. The Otter Creek Child Center is new on the ballot, with a $1,000 request. According to city officials, the only other change from last year is a $1,000 increase in WomenSafe’s request, from $3,000 to $4,000.
The VUES board in January adopted a budget proposal for the 2014-2015 school year that calls for an increase of about $178,000, or 4.34 percent, to about $4.26 million. The board is also seeking $15,000 for its annual capital improvement fund request, $10,000 less than a year ago.
Most of the increase in the budget proposal comes from an accounting shift for the cost of special education within the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union, which this year has the effect of raising spending at ANwSU elementary schools. According to ANwSU officials, that factor added $170,000 to the spending side of the VUES budget, although some of that will be recouped by increased revenue from the state’s share of special education costs.
The VUES budget includes a boost in the hours of the school’s math specialist from a 60 percent position to full-time. That teacher is now also working at Addison Central School on a part-time basis, but is projected to lose her hours in that school’s 2014-2015 budget.
The VUHS board agreed in January to a spending hike of almost 3 percent to about $9.78 million, a figure including a separate $50,000 capital investment fund. VUHS must also retire a major deficit due to unanticipated special education spending, and its declining enrollment is pushing per-pupil spending higher.
A projected 7-cent increase in the state property-tax rate is driving school taxes higher in all of Vermont’s communities.
According to ANwSU estimates, the city’s residential school tax rate could rise by a little less than 18 cents, or about 13.5 percent, to fund both the proposed VUES and VUHS budgets.
If both budgets are approved on Town Meeting Day, Vergennes homeowners who are not eligible for prebates would be facing an increase of almost $178 per $100,000 of assessed value.
According to the Vermont Department of Taxes more than 60 percent of town property taxpayers typically receive prebates. 
Waltham
WALTHAM — Waltham residents will gather at town hall on Monday, March 3, at 6 p.m. to decide town spending and elect town officials, and then cast ballots there on March 4 from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on proposed Vergennes Union high and elementary school spending.
The selectboard has proposed $95,869 of general fund spending, an amount that as well as operating town offices includes a separate article asking for $9,205 for the Bixby Library, plus $3,459 to other charitable requests. Officials said that figure has increased somewhat from current levels, in part because of a hike in the cost of Waltham’s fire protection contract with Vergennes.
The board’s road spending proposal is up just slightly to $170,825.
Residents will also be asked if they want to use $26,911 “from the carryover balance” to reduce their 2014-2015 town tax levy. Officials said if they choose to apply that carryover to tax reduction, the municipal portion of the town’s tax rate will rise by 1 cent.
Waltham will choose its elected officials from the floor of town meeting. The terms of several officials are expiring: Mike Grace, who was appointed to the selectboard when David Kayhart stepped down; lister Chris Huston, who was appointed to replace Grace when Grace moved to the selectboard; and Town Clerk and Assistant Treasurer Mary Ann Castimore and Treasurer and Assistant Clerk Lucille Evarts, who were appointed this past summer to replace Mary Kinson.
The VUES board in January adopted a budget proposal for the 2014-2015 school year that calls for an increase of about $178,000, or 4.34 percent, to about $4.26 million. The board is also seeking $15,000 for its annual capital improvement fund request, $10,000 less than a year ago.
Most of the increase in the budget proposal comes from an accounting shift for the cost of special education within the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union, which this year has the effect of raising spending at ANwSU elementary schools. According to ANwSU officials, that factor added $170,000 to the spending side of the VUES budget, although some of that will be recouped by increased revenue from the state’s share of special education costs.
The VUES budget includes a boost in the hours of the school’s math specialist from a 60 percent position to full-time. That teacher is now also working at Addison Central School on a part-time basis, but is projected to lose her hours in that school’s 2014-2015 budget.
The VUHS board agreed in January to a spending hike of almost 3 percent to about $9.78 million, a figure including a separate $50,000 capital investment fund. VUHS must also retire a major deficit due to unanticipated special education spending, and its declining enrollment is pushing per-pupil spending higher.
A projected 7-cent increase in the state property-tax rate is driving school taxes higher in all of Vermont’s communities.
According to ANwSU estimates, the town’s residential school tax rate could rise by about 20.7 cents, or 15.7 percent, to fund both the proposed VUES and VUHS budgets.
If both budgets are approved on Town Meeting Day, Waltham homeowners who are not eligible for prebates would be facing an increase of about $207 per $100,000 of assessed value.
According to the Vermont Department of Taxes more than 60 percent of town property taxpayers typically receive prebates.
Weybridge
WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge voters at their annual meeting will take care of the customary budget issues and elect three new selectboard members.
One of those seats will be contested; residents Abraham Miller and Daniel James are competing for a two-year seat. Gwendolyn Nagy-Benson is unopposed for a one-year term while Donald Mason has no challengers for a three-year term.
The new selectboard members will succeed three veteran officials who decided not to run for re-election: Selectwoman Gail Hurd, who left the board last fall and was replaced on an interim basis by Nagy-Benson, and Selectmen Peter James and Steve Smith, who wrap up service on Town Meeting Day.
Weybridge voters will decide a proposed highway budget of $400,210, up from the $360,000 that was approved last year. But Town Clerk Scott Wales noted the $400,210 spending plan also reflects debt service (around $35,000) on a new town truck.
The proposed general fund budget comes in at $98,838, up slightly from the $98,790 endorsed by voters last year.
Weybridge Elementary School directors are proposing a 2014-2015 budget of $1,042,710, which would mean a 9.31-percent increase in spending compared to this year.
Weybridge Elementary, like other schools in the county, has been contending with declining student enrollment. Equalized per-pupil spending at Weybridge Elementary is estimated to rise by 25.5 percent, to $20,931, according to school officials. It’s a budget that is projected to drive a $243.64 tax increase per $100,000 in property value, according to district figures.
Other articles on Weybridge’s town meeting agenda seek:
•  $20,000 for fire protection.
•  $13,000 to sponsor the volunteer recycling program.
•  $75,000 to repave roughly half a mile of municipal roads.
•  Up to $15,000 to buy a new lawn mower/sweeper for the highway department. That money is to be borrowed from the highway equipment fund.
•  A combined total of $20,669 to support various Addison County nonprofits.
Town meeting will be held on Monday, March 3, at 7 p.m. at Weybridge Elementary School. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day at the town clerk’s office from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Whiting 
WHITING — The biggest news out of Whiting this Town Meeting Day is that longtime Town Clerk/Treasurer Grace Simonds is stepping down after 33 years on the job.
The three-year term for town clerk/treasurer is up for grabs on Monday night, as Whiting does all of its voting from the floor.
Here is a list of other seats up for election:
•  Selectboard (three-year seat).
•  Road commissioner (one-year seat).
•  Lister (three-year seat).
•  First constable (one-year seat).
•  Second constable (one-year seat).
•  Delinquent tax collector (one-year seat).
•  Auditor (three-year seat).
•  Otter Valley Union High School director (three-year seat).
•  School district treasurer (one-year seat).
Regarding the office of Whiting school director, Article One on this year’s Town Meeting warning asks voters if they wish to change the number of Whiting school directors from five to three. If the article does not pass, then three school director posts will need to be filled. If the article does pass and it becomes a three-member school board, only one vacancy will need to be filled from the floor.
There is news in the town budget as well. Simonds said the proposed municipal budget of $290,591, of which $158,026 will be raised by taxes if approved, would double the town’s tax rate. The current tax rate is $0.027. If approved, the proposed budget will raise the tax rate to $0.054. Simonds said that is because the town used its surplus funds, which in the past have been used to keep the tax rate down. The funds were used on a lot of road projects, Simonds said. Also, the addition on the Whiting Fire Department was paid off, a sum of $51,778.
As for Simonds, she said she is looking forward to easing up on her schedule.
“I have six quilts to finish before graduation day in June,” she said, including two for her grandchildren and one for the pastor of the local church, who will be leaving.
One thing Simonds is looking forward to is spring. A Vermonter from the age of four, Simonds was born in California and can remember the first time she saw snow.
“My grandmother had knit me a scarf, a hat and mittens,” she said. “Five minutes outside and I was done.”

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