Town Meeting Wrap 2015: Ferrisburgh

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh residents at town meeting on Saturday at Ferrisburgh Central School (FCS) approved higher town spending and several other financial articles, and in Australian balloting at the town office building on Tuesday they picked a new selectman and defeated a proposed FCS budget for the second straight year and what observers believe is the second time ever.
On Saturday residents backed the selectboard’s proposal for a 2015-2016 town budget that calls for the first recent significant spending increase, a 5.6 percent hike to about $1.77 million.  
Line items pushing spending up include increased hours for town office workers, an additional road crew employee, a $100,000 deficit from the current year that must be retired (one largely due to a new hire in the road department and long hours for new office personnel), and projected higher insurance and road resurfacing costs.
According to Ferrisburgh officials, the town’s municipal tax rate will increase by about 3.5 cents with that budget OK.
Residents also approved $30,800 of charitable requests plus three other financial articles totaling $80,000:
•  $40,000 to buy a lot that abuts both the Ferrisburgh town office building and central school. The voice vote, after some discussion, consisted of mostly yeas, with some nays.
•  $30,000 for a reserve fund to be dedicated toward maintenance of town-owned buildings.
•  $10,000 more to the budget’s highway contingency fund.  
In a selectboard race for a two-year seat, Michael “Red” Muir defeated Dennis Armell, 368-160, in a duel between two candidates seeking to become first-time board members.
 They were seeking to replace Sally Torrey on the board. She stepped down after 10 years, but will still serve the town after defeating incumbent delinquent tax collector Chet Hawkins in a race for that position, 316-234.
Returned to office without opposition were Selectman Jim Benoit, Vergennes Union High School board members Kurt Haigis and George Gardner, and FCS directors Bill Clark and Laurie Gutowski.
But the FCS budget did see opposition. A proposal that would have increased spending by 2.97 percent to about $3.6 million lost, 302-267.
Also defeated — narrowly — was a proposal by the FCS board to create a $16,000 fund to support technology purposes at the school, 286-284. Town voters did back, 339-230, as they have historically, an article that contributed $20,000 to the FCS Capital Improvement Fund.
Ferrisburgh also voted against, 328-243, a proposed $10.47 million VUHS budget that sought a spending increase of about $1 million. Board members said that increase was necessary to retire a deficit and correct what current Addison Northwest Supervisory Union administrators call inadequate past budgeting practices, but the plan lost overall, 831-718.
Town residents also voted against the VUHS board’s proposed article to put $100,000 in a capital improvement fund for the school, 307-263, but in voting across all five school district towns that measure passed, 802-730.

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