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Ferrisburgh town meeting preview 2020

FERRISBURGH — With no contested races, most of Ferrisburgh residents’ decision-making will be focused on financial matters at town meeting this Saturday morning and in voting booths on Tuesday.
Town spending measures will be decided from the floor of town meeting, which will be held at the Ferrisburgh Central School and begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Election of town officers and voting on a proposed Addison Northwest School District budget will be done at Ferrisburgh’s Route 7 town office building from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3. 
There have been two financial changes since mid-January, when the selectboard adopted its $2,116,148 budget proposal, which would increase spending by about $57,000.
The board will no longer be asking separately for voters to back the purchase of a $190,000 tandem truck to replace the highway department’s 10-year-old model. That truck was totaled in an accident, and insurance funded a new truck, officials said. Those circumstances eliminated what could have been almost $4,000 of interest in 2020-2021 town budget.
But the board has decided to ask voters to increase the town’s Building Maintenance Fund by $20,000 to $50,000. The town office building has a few issues, notably its roof, officials said, while a group is also working on restoring the town-owned Union Meeting Hall, which has both structural and cosmetic problems. The board, however, rather than deciding itself to increase the fund, chose to allow residents to make the call.
Officials estimated approving the budget and the $20,000 increase would increase the town tax rate by a little more than a cent. A 1-cent increase equals $10 per $100,000 of assessed value. 
Most line items in the board’s roughly $2.1 million budget proposal are level or close to it, but health insurance costs and the town’s contracts for police and fire services are increasing, according to officials.
On the ballot, the terms of selectboard members Rick Ebel and Jessica James are expiring. James filed for another three-year term, which will be her second on the board. Ebel, the chairman for the past three years, chose to step down after maintaining all along he did not plan to seek another term.
Filing for the open seat was Christopher “CJ” Campbell, a retired Vermont State Police trooper who has been serving as Ferrisburgh’s delinquent tax collector. His election to the selectboard would mean the town must find a new tax collector.
There will be one change in Ferrisburgh’s representation on the ANWSD board. While incumbent Bill Clark is running unopposed to keep his seat, Chris Kayhart filed a candidate’s petition and will run unopposed to fill the seat currently held by Laurie Gutowski, who is retiring in March after years of service on the ANWSD and Vergennes Union High School boards.
Also, real estate broker Carl Cole decided not to seek another term on the town’s board of listers. Cole has served the town as a lister for 33 years and had volunteered to help with many other projects and committees. On the ballot to replace Cole on Ferrisburgh’s board of listers is his son, Roderick “Doc” Cole, who is running unopposed.
On March 3 Ferrisburgh and the other four ANWSD communities will weigh in on a proposed 2020-2021 ANWSD budget of $21,842,595 that would reduce spending by about $300,000, or 1%, over the current year.
ANWSD officials said the plan would avoid programming cuts and close Addison Central School (ACS) for use as an elementary school, instead repurposing it for alternative education. Addison’s elementary students will attend Vergennes Union Elementary School regardless of the vote outcome, officials said.
According to late-January estimates, the district-wide tax rate would rise by almost 4 cents, or $40 per $100,000 of assessed value of a home and its property, if the budget is approved. Without the ACS closure, that increase would have been closer to 10 cents, according to ANWSD officials.

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