2016 Bristol Town Meeting Wrap Up
BRISTOL — In the only upset on the Bristol ballot, challenger Ted Lylis beat incumbent selectboard Chair Brian Fox and challenger Joshua Clark for a three-year term on the selectboard. The final vote was 504 for Lylis, 391 for Fox, and 200 for Clark.
Fox had served on the selectboard since 2013, when he won a race against John Moyers; previously, Fox had served five years on the Mount Abraham Union High School Board.
Town meeting agenda items passed as proposed, with a few exceptions. Voting from the floor of town meeting on Monday night at Holley Hall, townspeople approved a general fund budget of $938,607 and a highway fund budget of $754,789. The general fund spending went up a whopping 21.67 percent — in large part to pay for the sorely needed new fire station — and the highway budget went up 5.71 percent — in large part to begin payments on the new South Street Bridge. This past July, Bristol voters approved a $3.19 million bond to build the new fire station.
Four years ago, voters OK’d $300,000 to replace the South Street bridge. Town Administration Therese Kirby said the actual costs to replace the bridge came in at $115,000 and that voters would now begin paying on that amount.
Monday night voters also approved an Arts, Parks and Recreation budget of $254,758, nearly identical to that approved at last year’s town meeting.
Three small amendments carried by voice vote on Monday night. Interest on property tax was amended to be 0.75 percent per month for the first three months and 1.25 percent thereafter (down from the proposed 1 percent and 1.25 percent). Also by amendment, funds allocated to the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program were raised from $750 to $850, so that voters approved $85,050 total for social service agencies and other organizations. And during the school meeting, the salaries of Bristol Elementary School board members were raised to be the same as selectboard members, up from $200 per year plus $15 per meeting to $500 per year plus $15 per meeting.
Voting by Australian ballot on Tuesday, townspeople approved a Bristol Elementary School budget of $5,020,933. The 2016-2017 spending plan represents a 2.1 percent increase from the 2015-2016 budget of $4,918,334, and would result in per-pupil spending of $14,739, an increase of 1.6 percent. This number is well under the Act 46 threshold for Bristol Elementary of 2.68 percent, and thus avoids the Act 46 tax penalty.
Voters across the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union approved $13,389,914 for Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School. In 2015 voters rejected two proposed Mount Abe budgets before passing a $13.95 million spending plan in June; this year the Mount Abe budget passed out of the gate with 2,703 yes votes and 1,306 against. Addison County voters approved $3,521,263 for the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center.
Residents in the Bristol Police District approved a budget of $415,999.
In other voting by Australian ballot, all other local elections besides the Fox-Lylis-Clark race for selectboard were unopposed. Winners were: Peter Coffey, selectboard for two years; incumbent Jen Stetson Myers, town clerk and town treasurer for one year; incumbent Chris Scrodin, Bristol Elementary School Board for one year; Colleen Bouvier Wedge, Bristol Elementary School Board, one year (Wedge was appointed in November to replace Terri Mayer Thomsen); Allison Sturtevant, Bristol Elementary and Mount Abe school boards, three years on each (Sturtevant had been appointed in August 2015 to replace Bob Donnis on the MAUHS board); and incumbent Carol Eldridge, Mount Abe board, three years. One Bristol school board seat on the Mount Abe board still remains unfilled.
Monday evening’s town meeting also featured and extended discussion, and a nonbinding vote, about how or if the selectboard should proceed with selling the old Bristol Fire Department building on North Street. Many at the meeting wanted to keep the historic building but how to pay the high cost of upgrading it was a big question.