Waltham Town Meeting Preview 2019

WALTHAM — Financial matters will be the main concerns for Waltham residents when they gather for their annual meeting and cast votes in early March.
At 6 p.m. on Monday, March 4, at Waltham Town Hall residents will meet to choose town officers and weigh in on proposed town spending from the floor of town meeting.
The selectboard has put forth a town spending plan for the 2019-2020 fiscal year of $226,276.
That budget includes $94,626 for general operations and $131,650 for road maintenance.
Although road spending is up by about $3,000, overall proposed spending is down by about $5,500, according to Treasurer Lucille Evarts, because the selectboard removed an $8,500 line item for audits. Evarts said in upcoming years the board will put in smaller annual amounts for money that is not needed annually. 
Voters will also weight in on charitable requests that total $3,909, up by $100 from 2018’s donations.
Another spending article asks residents to set aside $25,000 toward needed town hall repairs. That request follows a similar line item approved a year ago. If approved this year the money will come from an emergency fund established several years ago when the town had a large surplus, and there will be no tax impact.
The funds will go this year toward an overdue paint job of the building, with the remainder dedicated to a more expensive, multi-year project: creating a fully plumbed, handicap-accessible bathroom in Waltham Town Hall. That effort will involve a well and holding tank as well as interior work, Evarts said.
Two terms on major boards end this march. According to town officials, selectboard incumbent Tim Ryan would like to be nominated to return for another term, as does Addison Northwest School District board member Tom Borchert.
Town Clerk/Assistant Treasurer Mary Ann Castimore and Evarts, also the assistant clerk, would also like to be nominated for and voted back into office.
Waltham remains the only town in the ANWSD area to nominate and vote on its town officers from the floor of town meeting.
In Tuesday balloting, which runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Waltham Town Hall, Waltham will join citizens in the other four ANWSD communities in deciding the fate of proposed $22,139,341 spending plan to fund 2019-2020 operations of ANWSD schools and the district’s share of Hannaford Career Center.
After a year of level funding, that proposed budget would increase spending by about $1.03 million, or about 4.7 percent.
School officials estimated in four of the five communities — including Waltham — school tax rates might rise by about 9 cents, but said that number could move up or down depending on decisions made in Montpelier or the final district student count. 
Declining enrollment and rising costs are driving the tax rate higher. School administrators said increases are being driven by the cost of health benefits rising by 11.8 percent, salaries for teachers and support staff that expected to rise once ongoing negotiations for new contracts conclude, and transportation costs going up by 13 percent.

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