Town Meeting Preview 2015: Bridport

BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting next Tuesday will be asked to take the town clerk, treasurer and tax collector positions off future election ballots and instead allow the local selectboard to appoint people to those positions.
Bridport is one of several Addison County communities proposing that change. Clerks, treasurers and tax collectors have historically been elected in most towns, positions open only to local candidates. But the added rigors of those jobs, and a dearth of local candidates, has prompted some communities to seek permission to have those posts filled by appointment. This allows the town’s governing board to appoint qualified candidates, regardless of where they might live.
Also on Bridport’s ballot is a request to allow the selectboard to use $297,000 from the general fund surplus to pay for replacement of the Crown Point Road culvert.
A separate article asks residents to let the town take out a loan of up to five years to finance a new firetruck, expected to cost up to $200,000.
The proposed fiscal year 2016 general fund-highway budget comes in at $1,096,315. That’s down from the current spending plan of $1,131,830 that was OK’d at last year’s town meeting. The amount to be raised by taxes is being placed at $930,390, down from the $987,105 approved last year, according to last year’s town report.
The Bridport Central School budget is being pitched at $1,536,626, representing a 4.96-percent increase compared to this year’s spending plan of $1,464,069. Debt service obligations and an out-of-district placement are among the reasons for the budget increase, according to school officials. But the town’s K-12 homestead education property tax rate is expected to rise by just a penny (to $1.86), due to a recent spike in student numbers. The school currently serves 85 students.
Other articles on Bridport’s 2015 town meeting agenda seek:
•  $12,500 in support for the local fire department.
•  A combined total of $25,898 in funding requests from various Addison County social service organizations.
There are no contested elections on this year’s ballot. Valerie Bourgeois is seeking another year as town clerk; Irene Zaccor is seeking a one-year term as town treasurer; and Sue Walker and Leonard Barrett are in line for terms of two years and three years, respectively, on the selectboard. Meanwhile, Rick Scott is seeking a one-year term on the UD-3 school board; and Suzanne Buck, Keith Grier and Tim Franklin are in line for terms of two, three and one year, respectively, on the Bridport Central School board.
Bridport’s annual meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 3, at the Bridport Community/Masonic Hall. Australian ballot voting will take place the same day, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the same location.

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