ANWSD special revote on several items set for Tuesday
VERGENNES — Residents in the five Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) municipalities will vote Tuesday on whether to authorize school officials to take action on several matters — action that was approved earlier this year but through technically impermissible means.
District voters on May 22 will cast ballots at their usual polling places on articles originally voted on at the February ANWSD annual meeting as well as decisions made by the ANWSD board at a regular meeting — including a land swap with the town of Addison and the creation of a district-wide capital fund.
District officials called for district-wide Australian balloting after legal advice confirmed that those earlier meeting and board decisions this winter constituted “public questions” that, according to the Articles of Unification that created ANWSD, require residents to weigh in at the ballot box.
The warning for the vote itself includes four articles that do not fully outline all those specific decisions. Article 1 is boilerplate.
Article 2 asks voters to allow the ANWSD board to borrow money in anticipation of tax revenue that will arrive later in the year. Such borrowing is standard operating procedure for school districts because tax money does not typically show up in time to pay bills that arrive early in the school year.
Article 3 deals with the ANWSD board’s decision to create a “capital improvements and facility repair and maintenance reserve fund,” and the placement into that fund of $124,650 from a surplus from the previous fiscal year.
Article 4 on the May 22 ballot is vague in print. It acknowledges that action was taken at the February annual meeting even though “the vote on such public questions should have been by Australian ballot,” but does not list an action or actions.
It also asks voters to back a statement that “any act or action of school district officer or agents pursuant to be readopted, ratified and confirmed by the voters.”
According to information on the ANWSD website and Facebook page those actions included:
• Establishing salaries for ANWSD board members at $850, $1,275 for the chairperson, and $3,000 for the treasurer.
• Allowing the board not to mail out a printed annual report to all residents, but instead to give residents 30 days notice that it would be made available to those who would like a copy before the annual ANWSD meeting.
• Approving the long-planned swap of two parcels of land near Addison Central School, one owned by the town of Addison in exchange for one owned by ANWSD. Each parcel is a third of an acre. ANWSD will receive land close to the elementary school, while the town will receive land closer to its former town hall, which Addison hopes can be eventually renovated into a new town clerk’s office and community center.
Polls will be open on May 22 in Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham during normal voting hours in each community. Officials also remind residents they may stop in to clerk’s offices and vote any time by absentee ballot.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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