2018 Addison town meeting preview

ADDISON — In Australian balloting on March 6 Addison residents will decide whether to support town and Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) spending proposals, but will have no contested races to decide. The Addison Town Clerk’s Office will be open that Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. to allow voters to have their say.
Residents may also gather in the Addison Central School gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Monday to discuss town business.
All significant decisions will be made at the ballot box on Tuesday, including the selectboard’s two-part town spending proposal.
The board is proposing to spend $332,213 on all General Fund items, an increase of a little less than $17,000. The board voted to raise full-time employees’ salaries by 3 percent and part-time employees’ pay by $1 an hour, accounting for much of the increase.
The selectboard also propose to use about $35,000 of unspent funds to reduce taxes, and after it combined that with anticipated revenue the board is asking for approval to raise $240,367 through property taxes. That amount will appear on the ballot under General Fund spending.
That figure does not include a total of $57,706 of charitable requests on the ballot that are routinely approved.
As for highway spending, the selectboard is seeking voter approval for $769,911, an increase of roughly $27,000. Wages, health insurance and a boost in the line item for sand and salt factor into the higher request.
After applying a highway department surplus of almost $33,000 and expected revenues, the board will ask residents to approve $650,480  of property taxes for road spending.
Also on the ballot is a question that asks if residents support trading a town-owned 0.33-acre parcel near Addison Central School with another 0.33-acre parcel near Addison’s former town hall that is owned by ANWSD.
Both the selectboard and the ANWSD board have signed off on the deal, which would increase the size of the school parcel and also make the town hall parcel a legal lot. Increasing the size of the former town hall’s lot would allow it to be subdivided in the future if Addison decides to renovate the structure and use it once again as its town hall and community hub.
On the ballot incumbent selectboard members Jeff Kauffman and Roger Waterman both filed petitions for re-election without opposition.
The term of one of Addison’s representatives on the ANWSD board expires in March, that of Laurie Childers, but no one filed for her seat. According to statutes, the selectboard and ANWSD board would work together to fill the vacancy if no successful write-in candidate emerges.
The ANWSD board has proposed a $21.1 million budget that school officials estimate could increase the tax rate in ANWSD communities by about 8 cents, depending on final legislative decisions. 
The ANWSD tax rate increases would mean around $80 of additional taxes per $100,000 of assessed value for those property owners who pay based solely on the value of their homes. Addison’s homestead school tax rate dropped 13.25 cents in 2017.
About two-thirds of area residents pay based on their income and would get prebates.
The ANWSD proposal shaves $10,000 from the current spending level, but a statewide tax rate increase and declining district enrollment is driving the local tax rate higher.
The adopted budget calls for eliminating three elementary school teaching jobs, the equivalent of three special education aides, and part-time administrative and nursing positions, for a total of 6.8 full-time equivalencies.
The ANWSD board is also proposing a $7.63 million bond that board members said would address a critical list of energy efficiency, fire safety and security problems at all four district schools.
Board members have emphasized that payments on a bond can be funded without increasing taxes due to savings through the energy improvements and revenue generated from a solar array proposed for the Vergennes Union High School roof, and because payments on the bond that funded the 2000 VUHS renovation and expansion will soon end.

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