2016 New Haven Town Meeting Preview
NEW HAVEN — New Haven’s 254th annual town meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 29, at the New Haven Town Hall starting at 6:30 p.m. Voting by Australian ballot will take place Tuesday, March 1, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., also at the town hall.
Residents of New Haven will consider 27 articles for the town and seven for Beeman Elementary School, plus vote on the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center and Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School budgets. Most of New Haven’s articles will be up for discussion Monday night and voted on by Australian ballot on Tuesday.
Both of the New Haven selectboard seats up for a vote this year are being contested, with five candidates vying for the two positions.
Kathleen Barrett, currently chair of the selectboard, will stand for a three-year seat against New Haven Planning Commission member Dan Monger. Selectboard member Carole Hall is running against Bridget Kipp and John Roleau for a two-year seat.
Beeman Elementary School board member Ed McGuire is running unopposed for re-election to his three-year seat.
Also running unopposed in local elections this Town Meeting Day will be Pamela Kingman for a three-year term as town clerk and Barbara Torian for a three-year term as town treasurer and a one-year term as trustee of public funds. Torian has served as New Haven’s treasurer since 1996.
Returning to the ballot this year is the position of town auditor, which was eliminated in 2013 and then reinstated at last year’s town meeting. New Haven officials noted the many benefits of having elected auditors to “triple check” the town’s financial statements, alongside the professional audit done by outside CPAs. As elected officers rather than hired hourly assistants, the auditors have a more independent position from which to oversee the town’s financial transaction, advocates for the post argue, and as town residents, elected auditors know the town intimately and thus might be able to flag items that could go unnoticed.
All three candidates have been serving the town the past year as hourly auditor’s assistants. Polly Darnell and Iva Menard are running for the three-year and two-year auditor positions, respectively. Angie Dunbar is conducting a write-in campaign for the one-year auditor position.
The Beeman Elementary School board proposed a budget of $1,884,124, with spending per equalized pupil at $14,376. Last year New Haven voters approved a Beeman budget of $1,821,607 that spent $15,323 per equalized pupil. The school budget that New Haven voters will consider features per-pupil spending costs that are 6.6 percent lower than last year, thus keeping the proposed Beeman budget well below the tax penalties in Act 46.
Along with Tuesday’s vote by Australian ballot on the proposed $1.9 million spending plan for Beeman, New Haven residents will cast ballots on the $13,389,914 proposed spending plan for Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School and on the $3,521,263 proposed Hannaford Career Center budget.
At press time, homestead tax rates were still up in the air statewide, as the Agency of Education awaits clarification from legislators on how Act 46 affects the “property dollar equivalent yield” used to calculate the homestead rate.
Highlights of the town budget proposed by the selectboard include $1,160,249 for the road fund budget, with $527,301 to be raised by taxes; a general fund budget of $737,737, of which $484,825 is to be raised for taxes; and spending $165,000 from the road equipment fund to purchase a new truck and body to replace the aging 2002 International truck used to handle snow, sand, gravel and other heavy-duty tasks.
Funding for outside agencies, which are voted by separate article and not included in the proposed general fund budget, total $23,902.25. Allocations for each individual agency remain identical to the levels of support voted for at last year’s town meeting.