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Cornwall town meeting preview 2020

CORNWALL — Cornwall residents are in store for a fairly basic 2020 town meeting, with no contested elections and not a lot of business beyond the usual town, highway and school budget requests.
But local residents will help decide two contested elections for the Addison Central School District board. One of them involves Ellie Bishop challenging Jennifer Nuceder for a three-year term representing Salisbury on the 13-member panel. The other features newcomer Christin Gardner and incumbents Mary Gill and Victoria Jette vying for two available slots representing Middlebury.
Residents in all ACSD towns vote on candidates for the school board, though each town has a certain number of its residents that may be on the board.
Town officials are proposing a 2020-2021 general fund budget of $499,849, up slightly from the current $489,842 spending plan. The highway budget request comes in at $448,790 and is less than this year’s $452,968 spending plan.
Selectboard members published the following statement in the 2019 town report about the proposed town/highway budgets: “The general fund has increased primarily due to the increases in the town’s fixed fees for ambulance services (Middlebury Regional EMS) and fixed fees for accounting/reconciliation services, and cyber security to the town’s accounting systems provided by NEMRC. The highway budget is slightly lower due to decreases in the budget line item for tools. The capital fund budgets for buildings and equipment have been level funded for the coming year.”
Other articles on Cornwall’s town meeting agenda seek:
•  $69,750 to help fund the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department.
•  $4,000 to help pay expenses for the Cornwall Free Public Library.
•  A combined total of $32,070 to support multiple Addison County nonprofits that serve Cornwall residents.
•  Formation of a local Conservation Fund Planning Group to “study how towns in Vermont fund their conservation activities.”
Candidates running unopposed in this year’s local elections include Cy Day Tall, moderator, one year; Brian Kemp, selectboard, three years; Benjamin Marks, selectboard, two years; and Judith English, Juliet Gerlin and Susan Johnson, each for three years as Cornwall Library trustees.
Cornwall is one of four Addison Central School District Communities that will permit a public vote on two petitioned items that the ACSD board had declined to place on the district ballot. The first article recommends that each ACSD board member be elected only by the voters of his or her hometown; candidates are currently elected at-large in the seven-town district. The second item suggests that no ACSD school be closed unless such a move is endorsed by a majority of voters in the town in which the school is located.
Both questions are non-binding.
Cornwall voters on March 3 will join Bridport, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge folks in fielding an ACSD K-12 education budget proposal of $39,507,837 for the 2020-2021 academic year. The spending plan reflects a 3.74% increase that would essentially allow the district to maintain current educational programming for children in pre-K through grade 12.
If approved, the ACSD budget is projected to drive Cornwall’s homestead education property tax rate to $1.74 per $100 in property value, up from the current $1.58.
Residents will also cast ballots on the proposed 2020-2021 Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center budget of $3,854,752, which reflects an 11.42% increase compared to this year’s spending plan.
Cornwall’s annual meeting will be held at the Bingham Memorial School beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 2. Australian ballot voting will take place the next day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Cornwall Town Hall.

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