BRISTOL — Bristol voters will convene on Monday, March 6, 7 p.m. at Holley Hall for the annual town meeting, followed by the school meeting. Voting by Australian ballot will take place Tuesday, March 7, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., also at Holley Hall.
At Monday night’s meeting, Bristol residents will weigh in on 25 articles, 19 for the town and six for Bristol Elementary School.
The selectboard is asking voters to approve:
•  A general operating fund of $933,401, of which $752,524 is to be raised by taxes.
•  Highway expenditures of $775,523, of which $672,589 is to be raised by taxes.
•  Recreation expenditures of $250,195, of which $166,945 is to be raised by taxes.
•  Voted appropriations totaling $547,829, all of which is to be raised by taxes.
Overall proposed spending is up 1.07 percent from last year, as is the amount to be raised by taxes, with spending decreases for the general fund and recreation department and increases for the highway department and for voted appropriations.
Bristol voters are being asked to approve a total of $2,506,949 in town spending, compared to the $2,480,531 last year. It calls for $2,139,887 to be raised by taxes, compared to $2,117,215 last year.
The greatest decrease in expenses is in the recreation department — down 1.79 percent to $250,195. Staff hours at the Bristol Hub Teen Center and Skate Park are being cut, in particular the director position would be changed from year round to school year only.
The proposed general operating fund of $933,401 is 0.55 percent lower than the $938,607 approved for the current fiscal year.
Highway Department spending is up 2.75 percent. Projected costs are down for equipment and up for personnel and insurance, garage and materials, and services.
Voted appropriations are up 2.9 percent, with the biggest increases there in payments for the town’s capital funds for fire equipment, highway equipment, buildings, roads, conservation and technology, totaling $300,000.
Other requested appropriations are for Lawrence Memorial Library ($135,073, up 2.54 percent), Addison County Transit Resources ($11,306, up 5.6 percent) and Bristol Rescue Squad ($13,500, up 12.5 percent).
All other voted appropriations are level funded.
Voting on school budgets, the police budget and elected offices will take place on Town Meeting Day. Bristol voters will be asked to approve a Bristol Elementary School spending plan of $4,719,558, which represents a decrease of 6 percent from the current year. The amount to be raised by taxes for 2017-2018 is set at $4,308,920, a 1.96 percent increase over the $4,226,293 raised for 2016-2017.
The Mount Abraham Union High School board proposed spending $12,261,839, which represents an 8.42 percent decrease from the current academic year. That budget includes $1 million to fix the aging Mount Abe building.
However, even though the total spending decreased by $1,128,075, the amount to be raised by taxes would go up 5.65 percent to $12,033,024.
Voters in the Bristol Police District will consider proposed spending of $462,962, of which $425,862 is to be raised by taxes. Overall expenditures are up by 11.3 percent. The amount to be raised by taxes is up 17.3 percent. A major driver in the police spending increase is the cost of workers’ compensation coverage, which went up dramatically following multiple claims from the BPD.
Voters are encouraged to attend an informational meeting on the proposed police district budget, at 6 p.m. on March 6 at Holley Hall.
In addition to voting funds for school and police budgets, Bristol voters on Town Meeting Day will be asked to weigh in on proposed amendments to the town’s zoning regulations (see related story in today’s Independent).
The ballot for town officers features only one contested race: Lance Laliberte is running against selectboard Chair Michelle Perlee for a three-year seat on the selectboard.
Those running unopposed include incumbent John “Peeker” Heffernan for a two-year selectboard seat; Town Clerk and Treasurer Jen Stetson Myers for both of those positions, as well as for delinquent tax collector. Former Selectman Brian Fox is running this year for second constable. Incumbent Elin Melchior returns for a seat on the Bristol Elementary School Board. Two open seats on the Bristol Elementary and two open seats on the Mount Abe school boards remained unfilled. 

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