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Panton town meeting wrap-up 2018

PANTON — Panton voters on Tuesday morning from the floor of town meeting returned Teresa Smith to the selectboard, returned Doug Dows to his moderator position in a close vote, supported a series of town spending measures, and supported a series of renovations and improvements to their town hall (see separate story on the debate, an amended article and final decisions on Panton Town Hall measures).
The meeting was held in the town’s Panton Road highway garage because of lack of handicap access to and accessible bathrooms in the upper level of Panton Town Hall, something one of the approved articles will address.
Smith, who was appointed to fill a vacancy to the board, faced no opposition to her first election to the panel — although Dows, a former board member, was nominated for the seat and declined to run.
Dows, the moderator since 2013, faced a challenge from Eric Carter, who was nominated by Paula Moore. The final tally stood at 13-10 in favor of Dows.
Three vacancies on the board of listers went begging. Residents chose Sean Willerford as a Vergennes-Panton Water District Commissioner and Gretchen Bailey as a town auditor.
The selectboard’s $686,102 general fund budget, one that calls for an increase of $38,700 (5.6 percent) that is largely driven by the higher cost of employees’ health insurance, won unanimous support.
Residents also backed the purchase of a $245,000 truck fully loaded with plow equipment. They agreed to put $40,000 of a surplus from the 2017 fiscal year toward the truck, and to allow the selectboard to borrow another $25,000 toward the purchase price. The town’s Highway Capital Equipment Fund would foot the rest of the bill, minus an anticipated $39,000 trade-in of the town’s existing truck.
Also supported were $84,775 toward Town Reserve Fund accounts. Specifically, voters allocated $20,000 each to the Highway Capital Equipment and Highway Capital Projects funds, $38,775 toward the Town Hall Restoration Fund (after an amendment to increase that contribution by $23,775), and $2,000 each to Tire, Reappraisal and Technology funds.
On Tuesday, Panton voters backed the proposed $21.1 million ANWSD budget, 56-41. It won overall, 952-551.
School officials estimated that budget 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. About two-thirds of area residents pay based on their income and would get prebates.
Panton voters also backed a $7.63 million ANWSD bond proposal, 54-44. It won approval overall, 987-515. Board members said the bond would pay for a critical list of energy efficiency, fire safety and security problems at all four district schools.
Board members have emphasized the bond will not increase taxes due to savings through the energy improvements and because payments on the bond that funded the 2000 Vergennes Union High School renovation and expansion will soon end.

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