2016 Vergennes Town Meeting Preview
VERGENNES — With no contested races on the Vergennes ballot on Tuesday, city residents’ major decisions will be whether to support school spending and two measures backed by the city council: to reroute northbound truck traffic via Route 17, and to confirm the council’s ability to use the Water Tower Fund to support capital improvements to city facilities and economic development in Vergennes.
Vergennes residents will also weigh in on Addison Northwest Supervisory Union unification (see story on Page 1A).
Voting will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the city’s Green Street fire station, and residents can gather to discuss issues at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at the Vergennes Opera House. Residents may also vote between 7 and 9 a.m. on Tuesday, but only on ANwSU unification.
The truck bypass measure is one simple sentence that probably needs no further explanation: “Shall the voters support the City Council to encourage the Vermont Agency of Transportation to consider a proposal that would create a northerly truck route from Route 22A, east along VT Route 17, to U.S. Route 7?”
The Water Tower Fund question is more complex. City officials point out they have been able to use the roughly $100,000 a year to leverage grant money, often netting $75 for every $25 spent, to, for example, complete downtown handicap-access and sidewalk projects.
That money comes from cell-phone companies who pay to hang broadcasting equipment on the city’s former water tower, next to city hall. The council is establishing a policy on how the money should be used, and is seeking citizen approval.
The article reads:
“Shall the City of Vergennes establish a reserve fund pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2804 under the control and direction of the City Council for the purpose of funding capital improvements of City-owned facilities or for the purpose of economic development with the revenue derived from current and future agreements with cellular companies for their respective equipment on or in close proximity to the water tower located behind City Hall?”
On the ballot, as well as a number of charitable requests, are a number of candidates running unopposed for office.
Four candidates are seeking as many seats on the city council: elected incumbents Renny Perry and Lynn Donnelly; Mark Koenig, who was appointed in December to replace Joe Klopfenstein; and newcomer Matt Chabot, a South Maple Street resident.
No one filed for one vacancy on the Vergennes Union High School Board. That vacancy was created when longtime board member Neil Kamman decided to step down. Barring a successful write-in candidacy, the city council will make an appointment.
John Stroup, who has not served previously on a school board, filed for a vacant seat on the Vergennes Union Elementary School Board.
Stroup is also one of four candidates for the four Vergennes seats on the Addison Northwest Unified District Board that will be created if unification passes in all five ANwSU communities on Tuesday. The others are current VUES board member Sue Rakowski, Koenig, and current VUHS board member Christopher Cousineau.
Aldermen will adopt the city’s 2016-2017 budget in June.
The Vergennes Union High School Board adopted a $10,026,000 budget proposal for the 2016-2017 school year that represents a 2.23 percent cut from the current spending level.
Voters are also being asked to support a separate $100,000 capital fund line item for VUHS. VUHS spending would still be reduced by about by about $134,000, or 1.3 percent, if that article passes.
The VUES board adopted a $4.75 million budget that would increase VUES spending by 1.05 percent, or about $50,000.