2018 Waltham town meeting preview

WALTHAM — Waltham residents will gather at Waltham Town Hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 5, and make decisions from the floor on town spending, one selectboard vacancy, and potential spending on town hall repairs.
Selectman Andrew Martin’s term will expire at town meeting, and Martin reportedly is open to being nominated to serve again.
The selectboard is proposing a 2018-2019 budget of $235,084 that is down almost $20,000 from current spending. That budget includes charitable donations.
Residents are being asked to make the same nonprofit donations they favored in 2017, including $10,962 for the Bixby Library and a combined $3,809 of other bequests.
Waltham residents will also be asked to authorize up to $25,000 of spending “for needed repairs” to Waltham Town Hall, with the nature of that work to be determined by a grant-funded study conducted by the Preservation Trust of Vermont. Town officials expect information to be available by March 5 to allow an informed discussion on what work should be prioritized, how much it might cost, and what grants might be available to help fund it.
Voters will return to town hall on Tuesday for Australian balloting from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Addison Northwest School District spending measures.
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. Waltham’s homestead rate dropped 10.61 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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