Bristol town meeting wrap-up 2018

BRISTOL — Bristol voters on Town Meeting Day re-elected two selectboard members and filled half their open seats on the unified school board. Along with voters from four other towns, they also approved the district school budget and rejected the Mt. Abe renovation bond.
Joel Bouvier and Peter Coffey, both running unopposed, were re-elected to the selectboard. Town Clerk and Treasurer Jen Myers was re-elected to a one-year term.
Caroline Engvall defeated Jill Mackler, 788–728, for a three-year term as Lawrence Library trustee, and Lynn Camara won a one-year seat.
Krista Siringo and Ali Gibson won re-election to the Bristol Elementary School board, and Kevin Hansen was re-elected to the Mt. Abe Union Middle/High School Board. Both of those boards will dissolve June 30 to be replaced the Mount Abraham Unified School District (MAUSD) board, which oversees all schools in the 5-town district.
Kevin Hansen defeated Krista Siringo for a three-year term on that MAUSD board, 497–383, and Erin Lathrop was re-elected to a one-year term.
Hansen had encouraged voters from the floor of town meeting in Holley Hall Monday night to elect Siringo in their contested race, and to add him as a write-in candidate for another slot on the ballot, but when votes were tabulated Hansen had been elected twice.
Because only two directors were elected for four open seats, the Bristol Elementary School board will have to appoint two additional directors at its March 12 meeting.
Bristol Police District voters approved by a comfortable margin spending in the amount of $461,374 for the coming year.
Also on Town Meeting Day, Bristol and other MAUSD voters approved a $28,343,828 budget for the coming school year, 1,734–1,231, with all ballots commingled. By nearly the same margin, 1,785–1,196, those same voters rejected a proposed bond for the renovation of Mt. Abraham Union Middle/High School.
On the floor of town meeting Monday night, amid lively and sometimes contentious discussion, an air of generosity prevailed. A majority of the roughly 130 voters present approved as proposed:
•  A General Fund Operating budget of $926,739.
•  A Highway Fund Operating budget of $775,541.
•  Voted appropriations totaling $682,728.
And they approved, with an amendment, an Arts, Parks and Recreation Department budget of $251,195.
The General and Highway funds, as well as the voted appropriations, passed without much debate, but the Arts, Parks and Recreation budget article inspired more than 30 minutes of intense discussion, during which an amendment to the article was proposed, followed by an amendment to that amendment.
The Recreation budget had been set to decrease by more than 10 percent, with the goal that the department would provide the same services with fewer personnel. But former Rec Department Director Darla Senecal took issue with a nearly $5,000 pay cut for Youth Center personnel and proposed an amendment to restore that money to the budget.
As the discussion evolved, Bristol resident Wendy Wilson offered an amendment to Senecal’s amendment, which would restore to the Rec budget the entire $26,802 the selectboard had proposed cutting.
Wilson’s amendment passed, and with it the new spending amount, which will increase required tax revenue by 2.8 percent, according to Town Administrator Valerie Capels.
In other business, Dave Sharpe proposed an amendment, which passed, reducing the penalty for delinquent taxes from 8 percent to 4 percent.
Sharpe, who also serves as a state representative for the Addison-4 district, announced at the meeting that he would not seek re-election in the fall (see story in A section).
During the last town meeting appearance of the Bristol Elementary School board, chair Elin Melchior moved that the town of Bristol establish board members’ salaries at $0.
“You gave us a very generous raise last year,” she said. “We just got that money a week or two ago. It’s my policy to take my family out to dinner and then to give it back to the education community.”
This would make things simpler, she said, since the board is set to dissolve at the end of the fiscal year. Her proposal passed unanimously.
A non-binding agreement focused on renewable energy narrowly passed, as proposed, after an amendment to eliminate “contentious” language was debated for 40 minutes and defeated.
Linda Andrews near the end of the meeting Monday night introduced a nonbinding resolution urging Bristol voters to send a message of support to Gov. Scott and the Legislature regarding pending bills that address gun violence protection. These bills cover background checks, removing weapons from persons cited for domestic violence, and a bill called the Extreme Risk Protection Order, which is keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a significant danger to others. The resolution passed nearly unanimously by a show of hands.

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