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Middlebury Town Meeting results 2019

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents easily passed all financial requests at their annual gathering on Monday and then went to the polls on Tuesday to help decide a contested race for three Addison Central School District board seats and a $37,794,916 budget to fund K-12 public education in the Addison Central School District.
Middlebury selectboard asked residents for the OK to use $400,000 of the surplus in local option taxes this year — $325,000 to pay for extra capital projects, and $75,000 to provide a property tax cushion. Officials explained that without tapping the $400,000 surplus, the tax-affecting portion of the municipal budget would see a more than 6.5-cent bump in the municipal tax rate. Using the surplus would lower the rate bump to around 2.15 cents.
After 50 minutes of debate, residents endorsed use of the surplus by a resounding voice vote.
DURING DISCUSSION AT Middlebury’s town meeting Monday evening on how to use $400,000 of local tax revenues, resident John Freidin pitches an amendment that would limit the use of surplus tax revenues.
Independent photo/Steve James
Town meeting participants backed by a unanimous voice vote a fiscal year 2020 town spending plan of $11,155,400.
Major budget drivers, according to Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay, included a $123,250 boost for employee wages and benefits and a $126,000 hike to pay for two new municipal positions, one in the Ilsley Library for its adult services and circulation department, and one in town offices for accounting and grants management.
Voters for the most part took no issue with the municipal budget request, though police Chief Tom Hanley was asked to comment on overtime and staffing within his department.
Residents passed the town budget by a decisive voice vote, but encouraged the selectboard to look into more ways to incorporate more renewable energy — including solar — to operate town buildings.
In other action at their annual meeting and at the ballot box, Middlebury residents:
•  Decided a contested race for two three-year spots on the Ilsley Library Board of Trustees. They elected Catherine Nichols (619 votes) and Joe McVeigh (595), while Alice Eckles finished out of the running with 437.
•  Voted 802-237 in favor of directing the selectboard to write a letter to state officials 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.”
RESIDENT VICTORIA DEWIND speaks at the Middlebury town meeting in favor of an article asking to use some money collected from the 1 percent local option tax to lower property taxes and pay for capital projects.
Independent photo/Steve James
•  Supported, 917-130, a climate solution resolution offered by 350VT that seeks a commitment to, among other things, weatherize town buildings and schools, and install rooftop solar panels on town and school buildings.
•  Voted 949-101 to give $3,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Addison County to support its affordable housing efforts.
•  Supported a resolution, 838-211, to “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.
•  Gave permission, by voice vote, 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.
•  Authorized the selectboard, by voice vote, 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. Friends of Middlebury Hockey group will pay off all loan debt through fees, sponsorships and fund drives for the sports center.
•  Gave a standing ovation to outgoing Town Moderator (and former Vermont Gov.) James Douglas, first elected to that post in 1986. Selectman Nick Artim read a resolution honoring Douglas, to whom this year’s town report was dedicated. Former Selectwoman Susan Shashok was unchallenged in her bid to succeed Douglas as moderator.

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