Middlebury sets town meeting agenda

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents at their town meeting in March will be asked to decide a proposed 2019-2020 municipal spending plan of $11,155,400, support petitioned resolutions relating to climate change and reducing the local waste stream, and choose from at least five candidates vying for three Middlebury seats on the Addison Central School District (ACSD) board.
The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday approved a 13-article 2019 town meeting warning, six articles of which will be decided the annual town meeting on Monday, March 4, at Middlebury Union High School.
The balance of the warning — to include a variety of municipal and school elections — will be resolved by Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, March 5.
Prospective candidates for offices such as selectboard, school board and Ilsley Public Library board of trustees have until 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28, to submit their petition papers to Town Clerk Ann Webster.
Those running for municipal posts must gather at least 30 signatures for their petitions. Folks seeking a seat on the ACSD board must gather at least 60 signatures, but can do so from registered voters in any of the seven communities represented by the panel. The ACSD board presides over all public schools in Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge.
As the Addison Independent went to press on Wednesday, five people had taken out petitions to run for Middlebury’s three available three-year terms on the ACSD board, although not all had necessarily filed them. They included incumbents James Malcolm, Lorraine Gonzalez Morse and Steve Orzech, as well as challengers Ryan Torres and Betty Kafumbe.
Single ACSD board positions in Ripton and Weybridge are also up for grabs.
There could also be a race in the offing for two seats on the Ilsley Library board. Incumbents Alice Eckles and Catherine Nichols have taken steps to run for re-election, while Webster confirmed resident Joe McVeigh has taken out a petition.
As of this writing there were no confirmed challengers to incumbent Middlebury selectboard members Heather Seeley, Nick Artim and Victor Nuovo, all of whom will run for re-election to new three-year terms.
As previously reported by the Independent, Town Moderator (and former Vermont Gov.) James Douglas will not run again for the local post he has held since 1986. He has instead endorsed former Selectwoman Susan Shashok as town moderator.
The Independent will publish the complete slate of Middlebury and ACSD candidates in its Thursday, Jan. 31, edition.
Meanwhile, the items not related to the election on the town meeting warning are already cast in stone.
Middlebury residents will be asked to approve an $11,155,400 municipal spending plan for July 1, 2019 to June 20, 2020, of which $7,836,854 will be raised by taxes.
If voters endorse the board’s additional recommendation that residents apply $400,000 in excess local option tax revenues to draw down capital improvement expenses, the proposed municipal budget would add 2.5 cents to the current municipal rate of 98.36 cents per $100 in property value, according to Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay.
Middlebury’s 1-percent local option tax on rooms, meals, sales and alcohol is dedicated to payback and maintenance of the town’s Cross Street Bridge. Because the fund is now generating more revenue than is needed to take care of the town’s share of the $16 million bridge debt, the selectboard is again asking townspeople to use some or the surplus to cover deferred repairs to the community’s roads, sidewalks, culverts and other infrastructure.
ACSD residents on Town Meeting Day will also cast ballots on an education budget of $37,794,916 for all seven district-member towns during the 2019-2020 academic year. That represents a 3.35-percent rise in education spending per equalized pupil, compared to the current budget.
ACSD communities’ municipal tax rates will be combined with a public education property tax rate that will become clearer when final state aid numbers are confirmed by the state of Vermont.
Other notable articles included on the 2019 Middlebury town meeting warning ask voters to:
•  Give permission to the selectboard to take out a five-year loan of up to $310,000 to replace several municipal vehicles, including a police cruiser and related equipment, dump truck/snow plow and related equipment, and a pick-up truck for the Recreation Department.
•  Allow the selectboard to write a letter to state officials — including local House and Senate members — to support a “350VT Climate Solutions Resolution” that urges Vermont to halt any new or expanded fossil fuel infrastructure including, but not limited to, transmission pipelines and electrical plants; adhere to the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan to achieve 90-percent renewable energy by 2050, with firm interim deadlines; and to ensure the transition to renewable energy is “fair and equitable for all residents, with no harm to marginalized groups or rural communities.”
•  Support another climate solution resolution offered by 350VT that seeks a commitment to weatherize town buildings and schools, while installing rooftop solar panels on town and school buildings; take initiatives to reduce overall energy use while committing to improving the quality of life for residents; encourage landowners, farmers and other municipalities to implement practices that build the “soil carbon sponge” to cool the planet and mitigate flooding and drought; and actively look for opportunities to request or apply for support from the state to implement the above initiatives.
•  Appropriate $3,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Addison County to support its affordable housing efforts.
•  “Advise and encourage” the selectboard to enact a new law asking stores to stop giving customers single-use, carry-out plastic bags to take away food or merchandise.
•  Authorize the selectboard to add as much as $100,000 to an existing loan to pay for second-floor improvements to the Memorial Sports Center, and to extend that loan duration by five years. As previously reported by the Independent, the Friends of Middlebury Hockey group will pay off all loan debt through fees, sponsorships and fund drives for the sports center.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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