PANTON — Panton residents will be asked to make a number of financial decisions when they gather at Panton Town Hall at 10 a.m. on March 7.
The selectboard is proposing a 2017-2018 fiscal year general fund budget — to fund town government, maintain town buildings and take care of town roads — of $647,400, an increase of about $4,000 — or less than 1 percent — over this year’s budget.
At the same time, the board is asking residents to back $61,000 of appropriations for capital funds: $20,000 each for highway department capital equipment and capital project funds, $15,000 to the Town Hall Restoration Fund, and $2,000 each for the highway department truck/equipment tire, reappraisal, and digital/IT funds.
Residents are also being asked to back the transfer of $55,000 from the June 30, 2016, year-end general fund surplus to the Highway Capital Equipment Fund, and the transfer of another $10,856 from that undesignated fund balance to the Rainy Day Fund.
The final fiscal question relates to proposed energy-efficiency improvements to Town Hall being supported by Green Mountain Power. Town voters are being asked to approve moving $15,000 received from GMP in 2016 from the general fund to the Town Hall Restoration Fund to be used to restore and upgrade Panton Town Hall.
Some personnel decisions must also be made, although at least one was unclear in the weeks leading up to town meeting. 
Panton Selectman John Viskup is stepping down, and no one expressed immediate interest in being nominated from the floor of town meeting to fill that three-year term.
On the other hand, Selectman Zach Weaver, appointed last year to replace Beth Tarallo, reportedly has said he would like to be nominated and elected to serve the final year of that term.
There are also a number of terms expiring, those of two listers, three auditors and a Vergennes-Panton water commissioner.
Meanwhile, the members of the Addison Northwest School District board that will assume control of a unified union on July 1 were chosen in March 2016, but the boards that are now helping to run the supervisory union will still technically operate until the end of the year.
Jason Fearon, whose term was set to expire, has reportedly said he would agree to be nominated to continue to fill a Panton seat on the Vergennes Union Elementary School board until it dissolves.
Panton residents will also join other ANWSD residents in voting on the proposed first-ever unified union budget of $21,116,289 to support the four ANWSD schools and its central office, plus the district’s share of the Hannaford Career Center budget. Balloting at Panton Town Hall will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7.
That spending plan calls for a 1.68 percent increase over current district-wide ANWSD spending, but is slightly less than the 2015-2016 district spending total of $21,159,752.
Late-spring actions by the Legislature could move statewide tax rates, but according to ANWSD estimates using rates initially recommended by state officials there could be an 0.3-cent decrease in Panton’s residential school tax rate if the proposed budget is adopted. 
That decrease would translate to a $6 lower tax bill on a $200,000 home.

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