2016 Cornwall Town Meeting Preview

CORNWALL — Cornwall residents at their town meeting will help elect a new, 13-member board to govern all schools in the Addison Central Supervisory Union, and they will also be asked to approve the borrowing of up to $250,000 to be used to renovate their town hall.
Voters in Cornwall, like residents in all seven ACSU towns, will also vote on Town Meeting Day whether to approve consolidation of the ACSU into a new Addison Central School District (ACSD), which would unify governance of all district schools under one board and have one budget for all of those schools (see related story, Page 1A).  The new ACSD board would include one Cornwall resident — current UD-3 school board Chairman Peter Conlon. Conlon is running unopposed for the two-year term. All ACSD board members will be elected at-large, meaning residents of all seven Addison Central towns will vote on candidates for all 13 positions.
The $250,000 loan being sought to renovate the Cornwall Town Hall would be paid back through future appropriations to the town’s Capital Building Fund.
Town selectboard members are proposing a 2016-2017 general fund budget of $460,946, down from this year’s spending plan of $486,610. Cornwall Town Clerk Sue Johnson said a reduction in the legal services budget is a major reason for the smaller, overall general fund request. She noted that Cornwall no longer has to defend itself against a natural gas pipeline project that was scuttled last year.
The proposed highway budget comes in at $403,050, compared to the $400,250 in place for this year.
Other articles on Cornwall’s town meeting agenda seek:
• $63,900 to help operate the local fire department.
• $4,000 to help subsidize the Cornwall Free Public Library.
• A combined total of $22,929 to support various charities and nonprofits that benefit Cornwall residents.
There are no contested elections on this year’s Town Meeting Day ballot. Those running unopposed include Cy Tall, town moderator, one year; incumbent Magna Dodge, selectboard, three years; Brian Kemp (who was appointed when Selectman Dave Sears died last summer), selectboard, one year; and Sarah Kemp and Gabe Hamilton, three years and two years, respectively, on the Cornwall School Board.
Local voters will be asked to approve a 2016-2017 Bingham Memorial School budget of $1,479,162, representing a decrease of $18,136, or 1.21 percent, compared to this year’s budget of $1,497,298. This budget represents an overall decrease of 2.59 percent in education spending and a 1.67 percent decrease in education spending per pupil. 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 Cornwall’s homestead education tax rate would go down roughly 6.5 cents — from $1.643 to $1.579 — if the budget were to pass.
Cornwall’s annual town/school meeting will be held at the Bingham School on Monday, Feb. 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Australian ballot voting will occur the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Cornwall Town Hall.

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