ORWELL — For a third time, residents decided in a vote by Australian ballot on Tuesday not to unify Orwell’s school governance with five other Addison Rutland Supervisory Union towns.
Orwell residents rejected the merger twice last year, on April 12 and June 21. This time the margin was 219-137.
Orwell will now supervise its own middle and elementary school population until it negotiates a separate plan with the state to join a unified district. (Read the full story on Page A1.) All other towns in the district, with the exception of Fair Haven, voted to unify. A Modified Unified Union will now be formed in the towns of West Haven, Castleton, Hubbardton and Benson.
Elsewhere in Orwell voting this week, candidates for Orwell school director ran unopposed. Peter Stone will serve a one-year term and Glen Cousineau will serve a two-year term. Amy L. Roy won in a race against Andrea Ochs for a three-year Fair Haven Union High School director position.
By voice vote, Orwell OK’d a school spending plan of $1,933,177 for 2017-2018 — a decrease from last year’s $1,942,025 of less than half a percent. The new budget represents $13,785 of spending per equalized student, a 7.58 percent increase.
Voters also passed this year’s municipal spending plan of $1,042,684, which represents a 6.5 percent increase from last year’s $978,950. Separately, residents authorized spending, not exceed $165,000, for a new Emergency Response Vehicle.
Orwell residents voted on several contested races for town office by Australian ballot. Thomas Audet defeated Daniel Redondo to fill the remaining 1 year on the term of Selectman Bob Fields, who was re-elected to a two-year term last year but died in a car crash in December.
In uncontested races, winners included: Roland “Ted” Simmonds, 3-year term on selectboard; Dave Larsen, 2-year term on selectboard; Betty Walker, 1 year as town clerk; Cheryl Tudhope, 3-years, lister; Louis Hall, first constable; Allen Alger, second constable; Regina Charron, Joan Ousterhaudt and Kenneth Van Hazinga, library trustees.
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