2016 Vergennes City Meeting Wrap Up
VERGENNES — On Tuesday, Vergennes residents supported school spending, Addison Northwest Supervisory Union unification, 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.
The advisory truck bypass measure, backed by a 588-244 margin, was 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, supported by 557-278, was more complex. City officials pointed out they have been able to use the roughly $100,000 a year it generates 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 broadcast equipment on the city’s former water tower, next to city hall. The council established a formal policy on how the money should be used, clarifying that it could be spent “For the purpose of economic development,” and then sought citizen approval.
On the ballot, as well as a number of charitable requests, were a number of candidates running unopposed for office.
Four candidates sought as many seats on the city council and received the following vote totals: elected incumbents Renny Perry (589) and Lynn Donnelly (624); Mark Koenig, who was appointed in December (677); and newcomer Matt Chabot (537).
No one filed for vacancies on the Vergennes Union High School or Vergennes-Panton Water District boards, and the city council will make appointments.
John Stroup, who has not served previously on a school board, filed for a vacant seat on the Vergennes Union Elementary School board. Stroup was also one of four candidates for the four Vergennes seats on the proposed Addison Northwest Unified District Board. The others are current VUES board member Sue Rakowski, Koenig, and current VUHS board member Christopher Cousineau. All were elected without opposition.
Aldermen will adopt the city’s 2016-2017 budget in June.
Vergennes voters backed, 466-395, the proposed $10,026,000 VUHS budget for the 2016-2017 school year; it represents a 2.23 percent cut from the current spending level.
Voters also supported, 553-298, a separate $100,000 capital fund line item for VUHS. VUHS spending would still be reduced by about $134,000, or 1.3 percent, with that article passing.
Vergennes joined Panton and Waltham in supporting, 815-484, a $4.75 million Vergennes Union Elementary School budget that will increase VUES spending by 1.05 percent, or about $50,000.
Vergennes backed ANwSU unification, 661-214.