2016 New Haven Town Meeting Wrap Up

NEW HAVEN — In two competitive races on Town Meeting Day, New Haven returned one incumbent selectboard member to her seat and in a separate race picked a challenger over an incumbent for a second selectboard seat.
Selectboard Chair Kathleen Barrett defeated challenger Dan Monger, 425 to 220, to retain her three-year spot. Selectboard newcomer John Roleau (a long-time New Haven resident and owner of Packard of Vermont) ousted incumbent Carole Hall and also beat challenger Bridget Kipp for the two-year seat. Roleau won with 303 votes, Hall garnered 205 and Kipp 141.
The race caused ripples at town meeting itself on Monday evening with some townspeople raising concerns from the floor about selectboard member Doug Tolles’s Saturday posting to Front Porch Forum and his widely circulated email on Sunday night, both of which criticized Barrett. Some at Monday evening’s town meeting saw the electronic communications as unfair since they left Barrett almost no time to publicly defend her record.Moderator Pam Marsh declined to take up that discussion on the floor, characterizing it as a person-to-person attack outside the grounds of town meeting.
Instead Marsh kept the Article 2 discussion of “non-binding business” focused on residents’ responses to Anbaric Transmission’s proposed Vermont Green Line, which would bring 400 megawatts of hydro and wind power by underground cable from upstate New York into the New England power grid, with a big converter station in New Haven. Among the most important outcomes of the discussion were two straw polls by which townspeople unanimously declared that New Haven’s acceptance or rejection of the project should be brought to a town vote by Australian ballot, regardless of whether the selectboard itself ultimately decided to accept or reject Anbaric’s proposition.
Unlike many surrounding towns, New Haven votes all aspects of its town budget by Australian ballot. All town budget and school budget articles passed on Town Meeting Day.
New Haven residents approved the proposed $1,160,249 for the road 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 the spending of $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.
Voters also approved a grand total of $23,902.25 for outside agencies. Allocations for each individual agency remain identical to the levels of support voted for at last year’s town meeting.
New Haven residents said yes to the Beeman Elementary School budget of $1,884,124, up by $62,517 from the 2015-2016 Beeman budget of $1,821,607. Changes at the state level resulted in final per-pupil spending figures differing from the warned amounts for many Addison Northeast Supervisory Union schools. The updated figures showed that Beeman had the lowest spending per equalized pupil of all ANeSU schools, at $14,201 per pupil.
Addressing estimated education tax rates, Beeman Board Chair Brad Bull said, “This year the numbers are quite favorable … The estimated tax rate for Beeman is going up by (2 cents or 3 cents), but that increase is offset by a substantial decrease in New Haven’s Mount Abe rate. The resulting combined education tax rate of $1.4922 is a full 10 cents lower than last year and very close to the lowest in the five towns. However, I emphasize these numbers are only estimates. The state will likely need to reduce the statewide yield number, and that would serve to increase all tax rates by close to (3 cents) from what was published at town meeting.”
All town elections other than the races for the two selectboard seats were unchallenged. Pamela Kingman won another a three-year term as town clerk. Barbara Torian, treasurer for 20 years, won another three-year term as town treasurer and another one-year term as trustee of public funds.
The position of town auditor was reinstated at last year’s town meeting. This year, Polly Darnell won the three-year and Iva Menard the two-year auditor positions. Angie Dunbar won the one-year position with a write-in campaign. All three candidates have been serving the town as hourly auditor’s assistants.
Beeman Elementary School board member Ed McGuire won re-election to his three-year seat.
Voters across the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union approved a $13,389,914 Mount Abe budget. In 2015, by contrast, 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. 

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