BRIDPORT — Bridport residents at their town meeting Tuesday decided two contested races for their local selectboard and passed all money items on their ballot.
Tim Howlett narrowly won a three-way race for a two-year term on the selectboard. He prevailed with 83 votes, over David Bronson (79) and Michael Lawton (66). Howlett replaces Marian Walker, who did not seek re-election.
Meanwhile, challenger Matthew Lawton easily topped incumbent Jerry Forbes, 171-52, for a three-year term as selectman.
The selectboard won voter approval to spend up to $325,000 in accumulated surplus funds to replace the Sunderland Bridge on Crown Point Road. The bridge deck is deteriorating and needs to be replaced, according to town officials. The selectboard has applied for a $175,000 state grant to reduce the town’s outlay for the work.
Voters agreed, by voice vote, to spend a combined total of $1,009,815 in taxes to subsidize town and public works services for fiscal year 2018. Last year, residents OK’d, by voice vote, a combined town-highway budget that required a property tax levy of $947,144.
For the first time in many decades, Bridport residents didn’t decide a local school budget at their town meeting. They — along with other voters in the newly unified Addison Central School District (ACSD) — instead decided a K-12 budget for the entire seven-town district. ACSD voters approved a 2017-2018 budget that calls for approximately $37.7 million in spending to cover the combined operating costs for all of all district schools. The budget reflects $30,428,802 in net, local education spending, which represents a 0.60-percent decrease compared to this year, according to ACSD officials.
Bridport’s resulting homestead education property tax rate is projected to decline from the current $1.82 per $100 in property value to $1.580, according to the ACSD budget presentation.
In other Town Meeting Day action, Bridport voters:
•  Supported various Addison County social service agency requests totaling $22,500.
•  Agreed to spend $12,500 next year in support of their local fire department.
•  Earmarked $8,000 for the Town Line First Response service.
•  Decided a variety of elections in which candidates were running unopposed this year. They included Suzanne Buck, who won a three-year seat on the Addison Central School District board. Buck was also unopposed for a 10-month term on the Bridport School Board. That local board will go out of existence at the end of this year as the ACSD gradually assumes all responsibilities for K-12 public education throughout the ACSD.

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