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ANWSD articles pass easily in low turnout

VERGENNES — In light turnout on Tuesday, a total of 261 voters from the five Addison Northwest School District communities backed a series of articles, some of which had originally been approved at the ANWSD annual meeting in February.
Items approved included the creation of a district-wide capital improvement fund, the swap of two small parcels of land between the town of Addison and ANWSD, and the right of ANWSD officials to borrow money in anticipation of future tax revenue.
Some of the articles were re-voted because a citizen raised a concern, confirmed when ANWSD officials obtained a legal opinion, that one decision made by the board and others approved by voters at the annual meeting board were “public questions” that, according to the Articles of Unification that created ANWSD, required residents to weigh in at the ballot box.
By way of comparison, 1,503 residents of Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham cast ballots on the ANWSD budget on Town Meeting Day.
All decision items on the ballot were approved in commingled voting; Article 1 was non-voting boilerplate that asked residents to take care of any business that came before them.
Article 2 passed, 183-76. It asked 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 passed, 200-60. It asked residents to back the ANWSD board’s decision to create a “capital improvements and facility repair and maintenance reserve fund,” and to support the placement into that fund of $124,650 from a surplus from the previous fiscal year. 
Article 4 passed, 192-66. That article acknowledged that action was taken at the February annual meeting even though “the vote on such public questions should have been by Australian ballot,” but did not list an action or actions.
It also asked 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.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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