2016 Bridport Town Meeting Preview
BRIDPORT — Bridport voters at their town meeting will help decide a race for their town’s representative to a new Addison Central School District (ACSD) board, and they’ll also be asked to approve a $315,000 replacement project for the Crown Point Road Bridge.
Competing for the town’s one-year spot on the new, 13-member ACSD board are longtime educator and Bridport School Board Vice Chairwoman Suzanne Buck and Rick Scott, chairman of the Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) board and Bridport representative to the UD-3 school board. It should be noted that all 13 members of the ACSD board will be elected at-large, meaning that residents of all seven ACSU-member communities will be able to vote in all races for the new panel. The new ACSD board would govern all schools within the ACSU under a single budget (see related story, Page 1A). The election of the new board is contingent on ACSU voters — including Bridport residents — approving unification of their school governance, which will be a separate question on the Town Meeting Day ballot.
There is one other contested election on Bridport’s Town Meeting Day ballot this year: David Bronson and Joan Huestis are vying for a three-year term on the selectboard.
Those running unopposed for local office this year include Earl Audet, selectboard, two years; Valerie Bourgeois, town clerk, one year; Irene Zaccor, town treasurer, one year; Paul Plouffe, Bridport school director, one year; Rick Scott, UD-3 director, two years. There are currently no takers for a two-year spot on the Bridport School Board.
The proposed, combined town-highway budget for 2016-2017 will require a property tax levy of $947,144. That’s up from the $939,963 in taxes approved by voters for the current year’s budget.
Bridport Selectman Leonard Barrett said the town has applied for up to $175,000 in state grants to help pay for the replacement of the Crown Point Road Bridge, also known as the Sunderland Bridge. The success of the grant application will determine how much of the $315,000 price tag local taxpayers will have to absorb.
Other articles on this year’s town meeting warning seek:
• Up to $217,000, in the form of a five-year loan, for the purchase of a new grader.
• $10,750 for the purchase of a wood chipper.
• A change in the town charter that would allow the selectboard to appoint the town clerk and treasurer. Those positions are currently elected and the candidates must reside in Bridport. The charter change would allow candidates from outside of Bridport to apply for the positions. Anyone who holds those jobs would not be able to run for any elected positions in town, according to the proposed charter change — which would have to be approved by the state Legislature. Barrett said the current town clerk and treasurer will be invited to continue in their respective jobs if the charter change is approved.
• $12,500 for the Bridport Fire Department.
• $8,000 for the Town Line First Response.
• A combined total of $23,023 for various charities and nonprofits that benefit Bridport residents.
Bridport Central School directors are proposing a 2016-2017 spending plan of $1,562,807, representing a 1.7-percent increase compared to this year. As the Addison Independent went to press, the Vermont Agency of Education was still awaiting clarification from legislators on how Act 46 will affect the “property dollar equivalent yield” used to calculate the homestead education property tax rates in all local school districts. Prior to this confusion, ACSU officials were forecasting that Bridport’s homestead education tax rate would go down roughly 10 cents — from $1.853 to $1.748 — if the budget were to pass.
Bridport town meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, in the Bridport Community-Masonic Hall. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.