News

Town Meeting 2021 preview

AFTER MANY YEARS holding the Addison town meeting in the nearby elementary school, municipal officials decided to hold this year’s annual gathering in the Addison Town Hall building off Route 22A at the four corners next to the Baptist church. Selectboard members believe the historic building has enough room for meeting participants to safely social distance. Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy

ADDISON COUNTY — Here’s what’s on the docket for each of Addison County’s town meetings. 

ADDISON
Most Vermont towns will hold their annual town meetings online with voting on all issues and candidates via Australian ballot. Addison is the exception to remote meetings. The selectboard set its town informational meeting for Addison Town Hall on Route 22A at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 1. Board members believe the historic building provides enough room for safe social distancing.
Like other towns, all Addison town offices and spending measures will be decided by Australian ballot. Voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 2 at the town clerk’s office.
Residents will choose between two candidates for one selectboard seat: incumbent Peter Briggs and challenger Geoffrey Grant. There are no other contested races, town officials said.
The board is proposing town spending that would, if residents back it, drop by about $24,000, to $916,233, not including separately warned charitable contributions.
That figure includes a $471,757 general fund budget, toward which the selectboard proposes to apply a $43,642 surplus.
The board is recommending $803,044 of road spending, to be offset by a $107,351 surplus.
The final article in a straightforward Addison warning recommends residents agree to establish a “Wastewater Reserve Fund.” Essentially, officials said, this measure only changes the existing “Wastewater Project Account” to a reserve fund, and money in the budget for the project would be transferred to the reserve account.
The move would allow future annual contributions to fund maintenance to the town’s new in-ground septic system, which is designed to serve the town clerk’s office, the fire station, Addison Town Hall, and the church next to the town hall. The church agreed to deed the town hall building back to the town in exchange for septic service.
In school business, the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) board proposed a $21.6 million 2021-2022 (FY22) budget that comes in at about $238,400 less than current district spending.
That budget would put $266,000 of a $1.585 million surplus toward FY22 that officials said should allow the district tax rate to remain the same as the current year at $1.772 per $100 of assessed property value despite declining enrollment.
Initially, school officials projected declining Common Levels of Appraisal in all ANWSD communities except Panton would lead to tax increases.
More recently, according to lawmakers in Montpelier several things have changed favorably that could lower the statewide education tax rate and thus local taxes, including a healthier Education Fund and lower school spending proposed statewide than expected, and pending legislation. The Independent will track this story and publish up-to-date information separately.
ANWSD also seeks voter approval for other financial questions on the ballot:
•  A request to create an Education Stabilization Fund using $890,895 of the surplus. Officials said that fund could be used to protect the district from a financial emergency during a school year. 
•  $475,000 from the surplus into the existing general district-wide ANWSD capital reserve fund. 
•  Financing of up to $380,000 to pay for mitigation of a mold infestation at Ferrisburgh Central School.

BRANDON
As in most Vermont municipalities, Brandon will be deciding all of its town meeting questions by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day with an online meeting that is for informational purposes only.
The informational meeting will be held on Zoom next Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Login details are in the town warning and on the town website, townofbrandon.com. The next day, Tuesday, March 2, the polls at the Brandon American Legion post on Franklin Street will be open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Residents are encouraged to vote by mail, but if they come to the polls they will be required to wear a mask.
Voters will weigh in on proposed town spending of $3,244,020, of which $2,744,136 will be raised in taxes. The overall spending request is down 0.68% from what was OK’d for this year, and the tax request is up 0.95%.
Also on the ballot:
•    $100,000 for paving Florence Road, High Pond Road and other roads.
•    $92,000 to support the Brandon Free Public Library.
•    $28,000 for the Brandon Area Rescue Squad.
•    $25,000 to support American Legion Post No. 25.
And the town is asking for $47,374 to support a dozen social service agencies enumerated on the ballot.
Also on March 2, Brandon residents will decide whether to OK a $5.7 million bond to repair and upgrade the aging wastewater facility. And they will vote on Brandon Fire District issues, including whether to spend $646,090 for the period Nov. 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.
Brandon is one of four area municipalities where residents will vote on whether to allow cannabis retailers in town, once the sale of recreational pot is legal later this year.
On the personnel front, one incumbent and three newcomers are running for two Brandon selectboard seats on Town Meeting Day. Selectboard Chair Seth Hopkins is running for re-election to his one-year seat. He is facing Allie Breyer, Lindsey Berk and Michael Markowski, who all are running for the first time. The four candidates are vying for two one-year seats. Incumbent Doug Bailey is not seeking re-election.
Brandon residents will also take part in Otter Valley Unified Union School District (OVUUSD) Australian ballot voting, which will be on March 2. All registered voters will receive a school ballot.
The OVUUSD informational meeting was held virtually via Zoom on Feb. 24.
The OVUUSD budget proposes $21,039,634 in spending in the coming year, which represents a 3.25% increase. According to a district flier, the single biggest increase (on a percentage basis) is for employee benefits, which are going up 1.41%, or $287,000.
Brandon voters will get to vote on three positions on the OV school board: one of the town’s three-year seats (currently held by Barry Varian), a three-year at-large seat (held by Greg Bernhardt of Leicester) and a second at-large seat, which is the two remaining years on an empty three-year seat.

BRIDPORT
Bridport voters on March 2 will be asked to change the community’s budget cycle from the current calendar year to a fiscal year, and they’ll also decide whether their delinquent tax collector should be appointed — as opposed to elected — in future years.
If residents agree to the transition to a fiscal year budget, they’ll consider 18-month (Jan. 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) spending plans of $1.4 million for public works and $377,716 for general fund expenses.
They’ll also be asked to OK calendar year 2021 budgets of $1,109,925 for public works and $288,227 for general fund expenses as a contingency in case a majority of voters oppose the switch to a fiscal year.
Bridport will decide all its town meeting business via Australian ballots this year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, at the Bridport Masonic/Community Hall. Officials as of this writing were still planning for a Zoom informational meeting prior to March 2.
Other articles on the Bridport town meeting warning seek:
•  $15,000 for Bridport Fire Department operations.
•  $8,000 for Townline First Response.
•  $16,000 for a repeater to provide better communication options for the fire department and first response.
•  A combined total of $34,508 in funding requests from area nonprofit agencies that serve Bridport residents.
•  Tax-exempt status extensions of five years each for the Bridport Grange and Bridport Historical Society.
There is one contested election: Incumbent David Bronson and Pierre Bordeleau are competing for a three-year term on the Bridport selectboard.
Those running unopposed include incumbent Selectmen Tim Howlett and Stephen Huestis and Ernest Audet and Drexel Wheeler as water commissioners.
No one is running for delinquent tax collector, though it can still be won with at least 10 write-in votes.
Bridport residents will also vote on several Addison Central School District issues.
Incumbent ACSD board member Peter Conlon faces competition from Chris Kramer for Cornwall’s lone (three-year) seat on the district board. Meanwhile, Davina Desmarais, Mary Heather Noble and Lindsey Hescock are competing for two available three-year terms representing Middlebury.
Barb Wilson is running unopposed for Shoreham’s seat on the ACSD panel. All members are voted at-large.
Bridport is one of six ACSD communities that will be asked to ratify the town of Ripton’s Jan. 12 vote to withdraw from the district. A majority of Ripton residents favored withdrawing and become an independent school district, in an effort to prevent its elementary school from closing. Ripton would then be responsible for lining up public education for its preK-12 students. If a majority of residents in any of the other six towns vote against ratification, Ripton would remain part of the ACSD.
Bridport voters will also cast ballots on a proposed $40.3 million ACSD spending plan for the 2021-2022 academic year.
The budget features a 0.59% decrease in education spending compared to this year and brings the ACSD’s  estimated per pupil spending to $18,937 — a 0.34% increase compared to this year.
The school board is applying $550,000 of reserve funds to the budget, without which the ACSD’s education spending per equalized pupil threshold would have been $19,255. That figure would exceed the state’s equalized per-pupil spending threshold by $309 per student.
ACSD voters will also be asked to allow the board to transfer $623,744 in Fiscal Year 2020 fund balance to the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
Bridport is among the communities served by the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which is proposing a 2021-2022 budget of $3,829,301, representing a 0.92% decrease in expenses compared to this year. This translates to $23,827 in spending per full-time equivalent student. This projected spending per fulltime equivalent student is 6.57% lower than spending for the current year.

BRISTOL
Because of the pandemic, Bristol will not hold a formal in-person annual town meeting this year. Instead, the town planned a pair of informational meetings via Zoom — the first was Monday, Feb. 22, and the second will be Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. — and everything that would have been voted from the floor will instead be voted by Australian ballot.
Voting by Australian ballot on the town’s operating budgets and voted appropriations, town officers, the unified school district and regional technical school budgets, the Bristol Police District budget and the Bristol Town Plan will take place on Town Meeting Day, March 2, at Holley Hall, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bristol voters are asked to approve total FY 2022 town spending of $2,879,249, an increase of $49,834, or 1.7% over the current year:
•  Voters are asked to approve General Fund spending of $976,393, an increase of $53,594, or 5.8%.
•  Public works and highway spending, if approved, would decrease by $6,249, or 0.8%, to $809,116.
•  The Arts, Parks and Recreation Department is asking for $307,211, an increase of $6,558, or 2.2%.
•  Voted appropriations in support of local organizations, which this year will be broken out across 25 ballot items and must be approved individually, would in total decrease by $4,475, or 4.2%, to $101,281, if approved.
•  Total spending for Town Reserve Fund accounts, if approved, would remain the same at $512,000.
•  Lawrence Memorial Library asks voters to approve $144,248 in spending, the same as the current year.
•  Spending on the Bristol Cemetery Association, if approved, would also remain unchanged, at $29,000.
In addition to annual spending items, Bristol voters are also asked, in Article 6 of the warning, for permission to move $75,000 from the town’s Fire Department Equipment Fund to the Fire Department Vehicle Fund, to help pay for a new fire engine.
Voters will also be asked to adopt the Bristol Town Plan, as updated by the Bristol Planning Commission and approved by the selectboard on Dec. 14. A copy of that plan can be found on the town website, bristolvt.org.
People who live in the Bristol Police District (primarily the village) on Town Meeting Day will consider a proposed budget of $455,987, a $3,617, or 0.8% increase over the current year. Police District business will also be discussed at the Zoom informational meetings.
Two Bristol selectboard seats are up for election this year. Joel Bouvier (three-year term) and John “Peeker” Heffernan (two-year term) are both running unopposed to keep their seats.
Two of Bristol’s seats on the Mount Abraham Unified School District board are up for election, as well, and a total of five town residents are competing for them.
In one race, incumbent Kevin Hanson will face off against challenger Erin Jipner.
In the other, incumbent Krista Siringo will face two challengers: Pamela Jennings and Bill Mount.
The MAUSD held its annual meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
On Town Meeting Day, Bristol residents voting on town business will also, along with residents of the four other school district towns, be asked to approve a $31,753,310 education spending plan for next year, an increase of $354,128, or 1.1%.

CORNWALL
School-related issues will spice up an otherwise straightforward 2021 town meeting in Cornwall this year.
Incumbent ACSD board member (and former Chairman) Peter Conlon faces competition from Chris Kramer for Cornwall’s lone (three-year) seat on the district board.
Meanwhile, Davina Desmarais, Mary Heather Noble and Lindsey Hescock are competing for two available three-year terms representing Middlebury on the ACSD board.
Barb Wilson is running unopposed for Shoreham’s seat on the panel. All members are voted at-large.
Cornwall is one of six ACSD communities that will be asked to ratify the town of Ripton’s Jan. 12 vote to withdraw from the district. A majority of Ripton residents favored withdrawing and become an independent school district, in an effort to prevent its elementary school from closing. Ripton would then be responsible for lining up public education for its preK-12 students. If a majority of residents in any of the other six towns vote against ratification, Ripton would remain part of the ACSD.
As in most Addison County towns, all of Cornwall’s town meeting business will be conducted by Australian ballot on Tuesday, March 2, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents will be sent ballots for completion and return, or will be able to fill out their ballots on March 2, from 7 a.m. -7 p.m., at the Cornwall Town Hall. The selectboard was due to host an informational meeting on Feb. 22 via Zoom.
The Cornwall selectboard is pitching a 2021-2022 general fund spending plan of $499,608, down roughly $200 from the one OK’d last year.
The proposed highway budget comes in at $451,713, slightly higher than the $448,790 version OK’d for the current fiscal year.
Other articles on Cornwall’s 2021 Town Meeting Day warning seek:
•  $69,750 to help defray expenses for the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department.
•  $4,000 for the Cornwall Free Public Library.
•  A total of $30,520 to support two-dozen Addison County nonprofits that help Cornwall residents.
•  A $3,500 fund transfer to the Cornwall Conservation Fund to pay for educational and outreach conservation programs from July 1 to June 30, 2022. The unspent portion of this sum would remain in the Conservation Fund as a reserve to be used to support long-term conservation efforts — such as helping to conserve farms and natural areas.
•  A $10,000 installment toward the cost of a townwide reappraisal, anticipated within the next three-to-five years.
Other than the race for the ACSD board seat, are no contested local elections in Cornwall this year.
Cornwall voters will also cast ballots on a proposed ACSD budget of $40.3 million to educate preK-12 students during the 2021-2022 academic year.
The budget features a 0.59% decrease in education spending compared to this year and brings the ACSD’s  estimated per pupil spending to $18,937 — a 0.34% increase compared to this year.
The school board is applying $550,000 of unassigned reserve funds to the budget, without which the ACSD’s education spending per equalized pupil threshold would have been $19,255. That figure would exceed the state’s equalized per-pupil spending threshold by $309 per student.
ACSD voters will also be asked to allow the board to transfer $623,744 in Fiscal Year 2020 fund balance to the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
Cornwall is among the communities served by the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which is proposing a 2021-2022 budget of $3,829,301, representing a 0.92% decrease in expenses compared to this year. This translates to $23,827 in spending per full-time equivalent student. This projected spending per fulltime equivalent student is 6.57% lower than spending for the current year.

FERRISBURGH
Ferrisburgh will make all its decisions by Australian ballot for what might be the first time ever. March 2 voting will be held from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the town’s Route 7 office building and community center. Like other towns, Ferrisburgh is encouraging mail-in voting.
The town will hold an online informational meeting at 10 a.m. on Feb. 27, the Saturday before balloting. Instructions for logging onto the Zoom meeting or dialing in can be found at the end of the town meeting warning, at tinyurl.com/g41nvgj2.
Ferrisburgh has a race for one of two selectboard seats opening on March 2. Incumbents filed to retain both seats, Jim Benoit for a two-year term and Red Muir for another three years.
Muir is the one facing a challenge: Billy Larrow, co-owner of the Community Market on North Main Street in Vergennes, also put in paperwork for that three-year term. No other races are contested.
The warning contains 10 articles. In addition to the selectboard’s budget proposal of $2,171,467, residents will be asked in separate articles to back more pay for the town’s delinquent tax collector, support a new tree fund, and support $31,905 of charitable requests.
The board’s budget doesn’t include financial requests outlined in other articles: $30,000 for a pumper tanker for the town fire department, and $220,000 as for a tandem dump truck for the highway department, of which $190,000 would be financed. 
If all those items are added in, the proposed spending would be $2,262,562, adding about $74,000 to current spending. But because Ferrisburgh officials expect a grand list increase, they said the tax impact would be minimal.
The warning also includes an article asking residents to adopt changes to the Ferrisburgh Land Use Regulations. Those changes were approved by the Ferrisburgh Planning Commission in December to bring zoning into alignment with the town plan, and then backed by the selectboard.
Among other things, those laws would create new districts in the Old Hollow Road village and in the mixed-use area including the school, town offices, homes and commercial property along and near Route 7.
In school business, the Addison Northwest School District board proposed a $21.6 million 2021-2022 (FY22) budget that comes in at about $238,400 less than current district spending.
The school board also voted to put $266,000 of a $1.585 million surplus toward FY22 that officials said should allow the district tax rate to remain the same as the current year at $1.772 per $100 or assessed property value despite declining enrollment.
Initially, school officials projected declining Common Levels of Appraisal in all ANWSD communities except Panton would lead to tax increases.
More recently, according to lawmakers in Montpelier, several things have changed favorably that could lower the statewide education tax rate and thus local taxes, including a healthier Education Fund and lower than expected school spending proposed statewide, and pending legislation. The Independent will track this story and publish up-to-date information separately.
ANWSD also seeks voter approval for other financial questions on the ballot:
• A request to create an Education Stabilization Fund using $890,895 of the surplus. Officials said that fund could be used to protect the district from a financial emergency during a school year.
•        $475,000 from the surplus into the existing general district-wide ANWSD capital reserve fund.
•        Financing of up to $380,000 to pay for mitigation of a mold infestation at Ferrisburgh Central School.

GOSHEN
Goshen hosted an online informational meeting this past Monday, Feb. 22, in anticipation for its Town Meeting Day voting.
Polls will be open for Australian ballot voting at Goshen Town Hall on Town Meeting Day, March 2, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Absentee ballots can also be put in the drop box outside the town office, which Clerk Rosemary McKinnon said was very popular in last fall’s General Election.
The money questions on the Goshen ballot include a request for $235,269 for general expenses, which represents a decrease of $13,274, or 5.3%, from the figure approved for the current year. To cover highway expenses, voters will be asked to OK $217,200 in spending — an increase of $1,000 over last year.
There are no contested elections on the Goshen ballot, and the three-year lister position is lacking a name, so write-ins would be welcome.
Selectboard Co-chair Diane O’Classen will stand for re-election to a three-year seat.
McKinnon is gearing up for Town Meeting Day again, but she will miss the community dinner before the annual meeting.
“It’s kind of sad not having people come in,” she said. Then, coming to terms added, “It is what its, and we’ll get through this — people did before.”
Goshen residents will also take part in Otter Valley Unified Union School District (OVUUSD) Australian ballot voting, which will be on March 2. All registered voters will receive a school ballot.
Due to COVID-19, the OVUUSD informational meeting was held virtually via Zoom on Feb. 24.
The OVUUSD budget proposes $21,039,634 in spending in the coming year, which represents a 3.25% increase. According to a district flier, the single biggest increase (on a percentage basis) is for employee benefits, which are going up 1.41%, or $287,000.
Goshen voters will get to vote on three positions on the OV school board: the town’s three-year seat (currently held by Will Mathis), plus a three-year at-large seat (held by Greg Bernhardt) and a second at-large seat, which is the two remaining years on an empty three-year seat.

GRANVILLE 
For the first time in a long time — maybe ever — Granville residents will not cast votes at a live town meeting on the first Tuesday in March.
The town will hold an informational meeting by Zoom on Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Instructions for joining can be found on the town website: granvillevermont.org.
Australian ballot vote will take place on Tuesday at the town all from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The town hall — well, an important part of the town hall — will be the subject of one money question on the Town Meeting Day ballot. Question 8 asks voters to approve spending up to $80,000 to repair the steeple on the Granville Town Hall; the town already has secured a $20,000 matching grant from the Vermont Department of Historic Preservation to pay some of the bill. The selectboard said that wind, snow and rain have taken a toll on the nearly 100-foot-tall steeple, easily the tallest structure in town. Missing boards and rot need to be replaced and sealed tight to the weather. Some structural reinforcing on the spire is also needed.
The big-money item on the warning is the proposed $375,061 municipal spending plan. That is lower than the figure approved last year; but at the 2020 town meeting residents added in $9,000 for the local match to a FEMA project on West Hill Road, which might account for some of the difference.
Two of the three selectboard seats are up for election this year. Jim Dague will not run for re-election and Rachel Grigorian, whose term on the planning commission runs out on Town Meeting Day, is on the ballot for that three-year term on the selectboard.
Also on the ballot is Jennifer Stickney, who was appointed to the selectboard last fall after board member Steve Twitchell resigned after eight months in the position. Stickney is seeking voter approval to finish out a term that ends in 2023.
There are no contested races on the ballot, but every position has one candidate, and write-in votes are allowed.
Two non-binding questions are also on the ballot — both having to do with cellphone service. The first asks if the town supports construction of a cell tower off North Hollow Road, which aims to improve phone service along Route 100 in the Granville Gulf, and the second asks if Granville should alert residents if 5-G cellular technology is considered within town boundaries.

HANCOCK
Residents of Hancock can expect a pretty quiet town meeting this year. Typically the White River Valley town hosts its annual meeting in town hall on Route 100, but because of the pandemic there will be no in-person meeting.
The town of Hancock will conduct all of its Town Meeting Day business by Australian ballot; the town held its informational meeting via Zoom on Feb. 23.
Not only will voices be quieted, but Town Clerk Jody Jesso said the ballot questions shouldn’t raise an hackles. Residents will vote on a warned municipal budget of $375,545, which would cover both general expenses and highway spending. Jesso said that figure was slightly less than the figure approved last year.
“The selectboard tried to keep everything the same because of the pandemic,” she said.
Hancock will also vote on $29,435 on appropriations to 13 social service agencies, including $19,703 to White River Valley Ambulance.
There are no contested elections on the ballot. Selectboard member Scott Gillette is on the ballot for re-election to  a two-year term on the board. Selectman Dan Perera is up for a one-year term as road commissioner; he was appointed to the job in the past year.
Long-time town moderator Jim Leno did not file paperwork to get his name on the ballot for that position, but he is usually nominated and elected from the floor of town meeting. It would not be a surprise if he won the moderator position on write-in votes.
Residents can get an absentee ballot from the town clerk — call 767-3660 or email townclerk@hancockvt.org. They can be returned at the clerk’s office or in the box outside the office. As of Monday afternoon, Jesso said she had received around 20 requests for absentee ballots. Those who wish to vote in person can do so at the town clerk’s office, but it is small so only one voter at a time will be allowed in.
The Hancock selectboard made it clear that there is no in-person town meeting this year so the town will be in compliance with state health and safety regulations, and selectboard members said they value “in-person voting and we look forward to resuming this type of meeting when the pandemic has ended.”

LEICESTER 
Leicester will hold a public informational hearing by electronic means on March 1 at 7 p.m. ahead of its March 2 Town Meeting Day Australian ballot voting. Log on information is in the town meeting warning and online at leicestervt.org.
Polls will be open on March 2 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the town office.
The selectboard is seeking voter approval for $746,436 in town spending in the coming year. Specifically, voters will affirm or deny general expenses of $310,846 (with $289,276 to be raised by taxes), which represents an increase of $5,151, or 1.7%. They will also vote on proposed highway spending of $435,590 (with $296,947 raised in taxes), which is $46,000, or 11.8%, more than was OK’d last year.
Leicester has a few candidates on its ballot. Incumbent Tom Barker is up for a two-year seat on the selectboard and incumbent Brad Lawes is running for a three-year selectboard seat; neither faces opposition on the ballot, but write-ins are possible.
Leicester residents will also take part in Otter Valley Unified Union School District (OVUUSD) Australian ballot voting, which will be on Tuesday, March 2, at the same polling place. All registered voters will receive a school ballot.
Due to COVID-19, the OVUUSD informational meeting was held virtually via Zoom on Feb. 24.
The OVUUSD budget proposes $21,039,634 in spending in the coming year, which represents a 3.25% increase. According to a district flier, the single biggest increase (on a percentage basis) is for employee benefits, which are going up 1.41%, or $287,000.
Leicester voters will get to vote on two positions on the OV school board: a three-year at-large seat (held by Greg Bernhardt of Leicester) and a second at-large seat, which is the two remaining years on an empty three-year seat.

LINCOLN 
Town meeting in Lincoln is going to be different this year because of COVID-19.
Instead of an in-person meeting at Burnham Hall, there will be a virtual informational hearing on Monday, March 1, at 6 p.m. No amendments, motions or changes can be made to the questions Lincoln residents will be voting on. All voting will be done through Australian ballot at Burnham Hall on Tuesday, March 2, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Everyone entering the polling place on Tuesday will be required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. Voters who are ill or unable/unwilling to wear a mask may vote outside with other accommodations. Call Lincoln Town Clerk Sally Ober at 453-3803 for more information.
Lincoln voters will be asked to approve $461,009 in general fund spending, a $36,557, or 8.6%, increase over the current year.
Proposed highway spending would see a $9,495, or 0.9% decrease, to $1,043,083.
In anticipation of future paving needs, the selectboard asks voters to deposit $150,000 into the Paving Reserve Fund, the same amount approved in 2020.
Voters are also asked to level fund the Lincoln Library at $44,000 and the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company at $55,896.
Six other articles on the Town Meeting warning seek approval for 26 voted appropriations totaling $41,710.
Article 14 asks voters to give Lincoln selectboard members a raise. The town currently spends $5,000 a year on selectboard compensation — $1,000 for each board member. Approval of Article 14 would increase total board compensation to $11,000 a year — $3,000 for the chairperson and $2,000 apiece for the other four members.
Two incumbents on the Lincoln selectboard are running for re-election this year — Paul Forlenza and Oakley Smith — and both are running unopposed.
One of Lincoln’s two seats on the Mount Abraham Unified School District board is up for election. Sandra Lee is running unopposed to fill the seat currently held by Sarah McClain, who has decided not to seek re-election.
The MAUSD scheduled its annual meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
On Town Meeting Day, Lincoln residents voting on town business will also, along with residents of the four other school district towns, be asked to approve a $31,753,310 education spending plan for next year, an increase of $354,128, or 1.1%.

MIDDLEBURY 
Middlebury residents are in store for one of the shortest town meeting warnings in recent history, one that is headlined by an almost level-funded municipal budget request and a referendum on whether the town should entertain cannabis retail stores.
Middlebury won’t conduct an in-person town meeting this year because of the pandemic. The handful of town meeting warning items — as well as all local elections and school budget requests — will be fielded by Australian ballot on Tuesday, March 2. Voters can request ballots be mailed to them, but there will be no early, in-person early voting at the town office. Ballots can be mailed back, put in the drop box outside the town offices or delivered to the polls on Town Meeting Day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Middlebury Recreation Center at 154 Creek Road.
There was a Zoom informational meeting this past Monday, Feb 22.
Middlebury voters will be asked to approve a fiscal year 2022 municipal spending plan of $11,510,928, with $7,571,924 of that sum raised by taxes. The budget — which maintains current services — reflects an infusion of $622,706 in surplus local option tax revenues that will offset spending on capital improvements in town.
The proposed budget reflects a $66,472 decrease in spending compared to this year. If approved, it would result in a two-tenths-of-a-penny increase on the current municipal tax rate of 80.34 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
Residents will be asked if Middlebury should consider applications for cannabis retail shops that will be allowed in Vermont beginning in the fall of 2022. Vermont’s Act 164, which legalized recreational marijuana, requires a municipality to opt in via a Yes or No vote of residents before a marijuana retailer can open. More than a dozen Vermont municipalities will be fielding the opt-in referendum. Vergennes, Salisbury and Brandon are also holding such votes.
A No vote would send a signal to prospective cannabis retailers they shouldn’t consider Middlebury as a place to do business.
There is one contested election on the Middlebury ballot this year: Andy Hooper and Esther Thomas are vying for a one-year term on the selectboard. It’s the last year left on a three-year term recently vacated by Selectman Victor Nuovo, to whom this year’s town report has been dedicated.
Middlebury residents will also vote on several issues in the Addison Central School District.
Middlebury is one of six ACSD communities that will be asked to ratify the town of Ripton’s Jan. 12 vote to withdraw from the district. A majority of Ripton residents favored withdrawing to  become an independent school district, in an effort to prevent its elementary school from closing. Ripton would then be responsible for lining up public education for its preK-12 students. If a majority of residents in any of the other six towns vote against ratification, Ripton would remain part of the ACSD.
Middlebury voters will also cast ballots on a proposed $40.3 million ACSD spending plan for the 2021-2022 academic year.
It’s a budget that features a 0.59% decrease in education spending compared to this year and brings the ACSD’s  estimated per pupil spending to $18,937 — a 0.34% increase compared to this year.
The school board is applying $550,000 of unassigned reserve funds to the budget, without which the ACSD’s education spending per equalized pupil threshold would have been $19,255. That figure would exceed the state’s equalized per-pupil spending threshold by $309 per student.
ACSD voters will also be asked to allow the board to transfer $623,744 in Fiscal Year 2020 fund balance to the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
In ACSD elections, incumbent district board member (and former Chairman) Peter Conlon faces competition from Chris Kramer for Cornwall’s lone (three-year) seat on the panel. Also, Davina Desmarais, Mary Heather Noble and Lindsey Hescock are competing for two available three-year terms representing Middlebury on the ACSD board.
Barb Wilson is running unopposed for Shoreham’s seat on the panel. All members are voted at-large.
Middlebury is among the communities served by the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which this year is proposing a 2021-2022 budget of $3,829,301, representing a 0.92% decrease in expenses compared to this year. This translates to $23,827 in spending per full-time equivalent student. This projected spending per fulltime equivalent student is 6.57% lower than spending for the current year.

MONKTON
In lieu of an in-person annual meeting this year, the Monkton selectboard will host a public informational hearing, via Zoom, on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m., to discuss the Australian ballot articles on the 2021 Town Meeting Warning.
All voting will take place by Australian ballot at the Monkton Fire Station on Tuesday, March 2, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters who wish to vote absentee may request a ballot, but there will not be a mass mailing of ballots as there was for the November election.
Voters are asked to approve $1,262,249 in highway spending next year, an increase of $177,423, or 16.3%. Part of that increase is due to a $68,020 Highway Fund deficit.
Spending on salaries and general expenses, if approved, would increase by $151,566, or 45%, to $487,283. Part of that increase is due to a $59,024 General Fund deficit, and another part, according to selectboard chair Stephen Pilcher, is an $85,000 increase in interest and principal payments on the new town office and library building.
Capital funds and voter appropriations, along with spending for the Monkton Fire Department and Russell Memorial Library, would, if approved, total $175,445, an increase of $14,098, or 8.7%, over the current year’s spending.
Voters are also asked to approve up to $118,000 for the purchase of a tractor and roadside mower.
Two selectboard seats are up for election this year.
Stephen Pilcher and John McNerney are running unopposed to keep their seats on the board.
Neither of Monkton’s two seats on the Mount Abraham Unified School District board are up for election this year.
The MAUSD was due to hold its annual meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
On Town Meeting Day, Monkton residents voting on town business will also, along with residents of the four other school district towns, be asked to approve a $31,753,310 education spending plan for next year, an increase of $354,128, or 1.1%.

NEW HAVEN 
New Haven’s 259th annual town meeting will take place remotely on Monday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m. Articles 1-30 will be discussed at that meeting. All voting on those articles will take place by Australian ballot at the New Haven Town Hall on Tuesday, March 2, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters are asked to approve FY2021 General Fund expenses of $717,226 (an increase of $14,477, or 2%, over the current year), plus a school payment of $475,000, for a total General Fund budget of $1,192,226.
Road Fund spending, if approved, would decrease by $421,470, or 25.3%, to $1,242,999.
Voters are also asked to OK two expenditures from the Reserve Facilities Fund: up to $10,000 to paint the interior of the town offices, and up to $40,000 to do major repairs to the facade of New Haven Town Hall, including ADA accessibility improvements.
Twenty-three additional articles address smaller appropriations totaling $26,208, an increase of $18.
Two New Haven selectboard seats are up for election this year.
Steve Dupoise is running unopposed to keep his seat for a two-year term on the board.
For the other seat, Bruce Many is challenging incumbent Jim Walsh for a three-year term.
One of New Haven’s two seats on the Mount Abraham Unified School District board is also up for election this year. Sarah LaPerle is running unopposed to keep her seat on that board.
The MAUSD held its annual meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
On Town Meeting Day, New Haven residents voting on town business will also, along with residents of the four other school district towns, be asked to approve a $31,753,310 education spending plan for next year, an increase of $354,128, or 1.1%.

ORWELL 
Instead of holding a live Town Meeting Day assembly at the town hall, Orwell residents next week will vote on 27 articles by Australian ballot. The polls will be open at the Orwell Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2.
On Feb. 23, Orwell held an informational meeting on the Town Meeting Day ballot.
The big-ticket item on the municipal ballot is the proposed town budget. The selectboard is asking for $1,134,701 for town spending in 2021, which is $12,452, or about 1%, more than the figure approved last March.
The 2021 budget would require $675,743 in taxes, which is about 10.3 less than last year’s figure — $77,462.
In an explanation to voters, the selectboard called this “another conservative budget as we are all sensitive to the economy that we are in.” It defended the figure by stating, “The increases in the highway budget reflects the need to replace tires on both trucks and the need for rear tires on the roadside mower. “
In explaining the $176,743 proposed sewer budget that will be on the ballot, the board said that pond No. 2 had to be pumped out to bring it into compliance, and when that is done the sewer plant should be good for another 12 to 15 years.
There are more than 20 articles on the ballot asking for money to benefit a variety of town projects and social service agencies. Among the more expensive items are:
•  $26,000 to purchase about an acre next to the firehouse to facilitate drainage.
•  $20,000 to replace the gazebo on the town green. The selectboard reports that the gazebo has become unsafe, and thus an increasing liability. The gazebo has become the object of several complaints, and before the holidays the town did a temporary fix to the deck. But it needs other serious attention, prompting the board to suggest replacing rather than fixing the structure.
There is one contested election on the ballot. Allen R. Alger and Rebecca Heibler are both on the ballot for a one-year term as first constable of Orwell. Alger is currently second constable and Heibler is incumbent first constable.
Two selectboard incumbents are running unopposed. Board Chair Thomas Audet seeks re-election to a two-year seat and Vice Chair Bill Goddard would like another two-year term.
Article 13 asks Orwell residents if they will set March 1, 2022, as the date for their next in-person annual meeting. Do we have any yeas?
Also by Australian ballot on March 2, Orwell residents will weigh in on a Slate Valley Unified School District spending plan proposed at $26,280,385, which represents a decrease of $122,201 or 0.46%. The projected spending per equalized pupil ($16,483) is 0.55% greater than spending for the current year.
The school board is also asking voter approval to transfer $882,500 (from a $2.6 million surplus) to the Capital Improvements and Repairs Reserve Fund.
Peter Stone is running uncontested to represent Orwell on the Slate Valley school board.

PANTON
Panton voters will vote in a selectboard race as well as weigh in on town spending, all by Australian ballot.
An informational online meeting is set for Monday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m., and voting will be held at Panton Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 2.
In the selectboard race, multi-term incumbent board member Teresa Smith is being challenged for a three-year term by the town’s dog warden, Megan Vorsteveld.
Residents will say yea or nay on a series of financial proposals, including a budget with a face value of $744,375, down about $19,000 from last year’s roughly $763,600.
Those figures do not include charitable appropriations totaling $8,100 of donations warned separately.
The other big fiscal question on the March 2 ballot is whether residents will back a $270,000 plan to replace the existing town shed on Panton Road with new salt/sand and equipment sheds. The article calls for a 10-year repayment term at $31,201 per year.
Town officials believe the equipment shed would prolong the life of the town trucks, and officials agree the existing road materials shed is in poor condition. 
Also on the ballot are questions seeking voter approval to put money in various reserve funds, six in all, which total $50,500.  
The selectboard chose to apply $55,000 of a surplus to offset taxes. Therefore, if voters approve all proposed spending on the ballot on March 2, the amount to be raised by taxes this coming year would be about $14,000 more than during the current year.
In school business, the Addison Northwest School District board is proposing a $21.6 million 2021-2022 (FY22) budget that comes in at about $238,400 less than current district spending.
The school board also voted to put $266,000 of a $1.585 million surplus toward FY22 that officials said should allow the district tax rate to remain the same as the current year at $1.772 per $100 or assessed property value, despite declining enrollment.
Initially, school officials projected declining Common Levels of Appraisal in all ANWSD communities except Panton would lead to tax increases.
More recently, according to lawmakers in Montpelier, several things have changed favorably that could lower the statewide education tax rate and thus local taxes, including a healthier Education Fund and lower than expected school spending proposed statewide , and pending legislation. The Independent will track this story and publish up-to-date information separately.
ANWSD also seeks voter approval for other financial questions on the ballot:
•  A request to create an Education Stabilization Fund using $890,895 of the surplus. Officials said that fund could be used to protect the district from a financial emergency during a school year.
•  $475,000 from the surplus into the existing general district-wide ANWSD capital reserve fund.
•  Financing of up to $380,000 to pay for mitigation of a mold infestation at Ferrisburgh Central School.

RIPTON
Control of Ripton’s public education system is on the March 2 ballot this year — interestingly, in every Addison Central School District town except Ripton’s.
At issue is a referendum in the ACSD member towns that seeks ratification of Ripton’s Jan. 12 vote to withdraw from the district. A majority of Ripton residents on that date voted in favor of withdrawing, in an effort to prevent their elementary school from closing and become an independent school district. If the other towns approve, Ripton would be responsible for lining up public education services for its preK-12 students. But if a majority of residents in any of the six towns votes against ratification, Ripton would remain in the ACSD.
Ripton’s municipal business on Town Meeting Day pretty much pales in comparison. All votes will be conducted by Australian ballot at the Ripton Community House on Tuesday, March 2, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early and absentee voting by mail is also available.
A Zoom informational meeting is planned for Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Log on to us02web.zoom.us/j/315365540, or phone 1-929-205-6099.
Residents will be asked to authorize a combined total of $647,361.68 in spending for highway and general fund services during fiscal year 2022, which runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. That’s $9,331 less than what voters OK’d last March. Ripton officials, like their counterparts in other Addison County towns, are trying to keep expenses low during these challenges times of COVID-19.
Other articles on the warning seek:
•  A total of $26,126 in funding requests from area nonprofit agencies that serve Ripton residents.
•  $41,000 for the Ripton Volunteer Fire and First Response Department.
•  $6,000 to the Ripton Cemetery Commission.
•  Continuation of a reduced property tax bill for the Silver Towers Camp — owned and operated by the Vermont Elks Association Inc. — amounting to 33% of what would otherwise be due.
There are no contested local elections in Ripton this year.
Ripton voters will also cast ballots on a proposed ACSD budget of $40.3 million to educate preK-12 students during the 2021-2022 academic year.
The budget proposal features a 0.59% decrease in education spending and brings the ACSD’s estimated per pupil spending to $18,937 — a 0.34% increase compared to this year.
The school board is applying $550,000 of unassigned reserve funds to the budget, without which the ACSD’s education spending per equalized pupil threshold would have been $19,255. That figure would exceed the state’s equalized per-pupil spending threshold by $309 per student.
ACSD voters will also be asked to allow the board to transfer $623,744 in Fiscal Year 2020 fund balance to the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
In ACSD elections, incumbent district board member (and former Chairman) Peter Conlon faces competition from Chris Kramer for Cornwall’s lone (three-year) seat on the panel, which oversees preK-12 education for children in Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge. Davina Desmarais, Mary Heather Noble and Lindsey Hescock are competing for two three-year terms representing Middlebury on the ACSD board.
Barb Wilson is running unopposed for Shoreham’s seat on the ACSD panel. All members are voted at-large.
Ripton is among the communities served by the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which is proposing a 2021-2022 budget of $3,829,301, representing a 0.92% decrease in expenses compared to this year. This translates to $23,827 in spending per full-time equivalent student. This projected spending per fulltime equivalent student is 6.57% lower than spending for the current year.

 

SALISBURY
Salisbury residents on March 2 will be asked, among other things, to decide whether to give their community the option of hosting retail cannabis operations.
A yes vote would likely lead town officials to draft zoning and public safety ordinances to give the community control over where cannabis retail stores might be sited. Under Act 164 — Vermont’s new tax-and-regulate law authorizing the sale of recreational marijuana — retail sales of the substance will be allowed beginning in 2022.
A no vote would send a signal to cannabis retailers they shouldn’t consider Salisbury as a place to do business.
Middlebury, Vergennes and Brandon are also among Vermont communities considering “opt-in” referenda re. cannabis retail.
Salisbury will conduct all its business by Australian ballot this year. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 2 at the Salisbury town office. The selectboard will convene a Zoom informational meeting on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m. to discuss the town meeting warning.
Residents will be asked to endorse a 2021-2022 highway budget of $505,669, up around $22,000 from last year.
The general fund budget proposal comes in at $285,828, up around $14,000.
Other articles on the warning seek:
•  $25,411.75 for the Brandon-Leicester-Salisbury-Goshen-Pittsford (BLSG) Insect Control District to conduct mosquito control.
The 2020 town meeting saw a 20-minute discussion on whether to approve funding for BLSG, with speakers advocating non-payment of BLSG dues and presumably triggering the town’s withdrawal from the district. The question passed by a 33-vote margin, 187-154. There is speculation that a similar effort to defund BLSG may be afoot this year.
•  Creation of a “Computer Equipment Reserve Fund,” to be used for technology upgrades. This reserve fund would be financed at the end of each fiscal year with any unspent money in the general budget that was earmarked for computer-related purchases.
•  A combined total of $89,625 for various municipal and nonprofit operations that provide services to Salisbury residents. Note: $43,240 of that sum is to help fund the Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department.
There’s one contested local elections in Salisbury this year: Ryan Emilio and Jeff McDonough are competing for a one-year term as first constable.
Salisbury residents will also vote on several issues in the Addison Central School District.
Salisbury is one of six ACSD communities that will be asked to ratify the town of Ripton’s Jan. 12 vote to withdraw from the district. A majority of Ripton residents favored withdrawing and become an independent school district, in an effort to prevent its elementary school from closing. Ripton would be responsible for lining up public education for its preK-12 students. If a majority of residents in any of the other six towns vote against ratification, Ripton would remain part of the ACSD.
Salisbury voters will also cast ballots on a proposed $40.3 million ACSD spending plan for the 2021-2022 academic year.
The budget features a 0.59% decrease in education spending compared to this year and brings the ACSD’s  estimated per pupil spending to $18,937 — a 0.34% increase compared to this year.
The school board is applying $550,000 of unassigned reserve funds to the budget, without which the ACSD’s education spending per equalized pupil threshold would have been $19,255. That figure would exceed the state’s equalized per-pupil spending threshold by $309 per student.
ACSD voters will also be asked to allow the board to transfer $623,744 in Fiscal Year 2020 fund balance to the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
In ACSD elections, incumbent ACSD board member Peter Conlon faces competition from Chris Kramer for Cornwall’s lone (three-year) seat on the district board. Separately, Davina Desmarais, Mary Heather Noble and Lindsey Hescock are competing for two available three-year terms representing Middlebury.
Barb Wilson is running unopposed for Shoreham’s seat on the ACSD panel. All members are voted at-large.
 
Salisbury is among the communities served by the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which is proposing a 2021-2022 budget of $3,829,301, representing a 0.92% decrease in expenses compared to this year. This translates to $23,827 in spending per full-time equivalent student. This projected spending per fulltime equivalent student is 6.57% lower than spending for the current year.

SHOREHAM
Shoreham voters are facing a short, no-frills Town Meeting Day warning on March 2: no contested elections, marginal budget increases and no major equipment purchase proposals.
Shoreham will conduct all its business by Australian ballot because of the pandemic. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, at the Shoreham town office. The selectboard will convene an information town meeting on Zoom on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. Instructions for attending that meeting are posted online at shorehamvt.org and will be available at the town office.
Residents will be asked to OK a 2021-2022 highway budget of $901,740, which is up around $3,000 from the spending plan voters authorized last year.
The fiscal year 2022 general fund request is $382,959, up around $13,000 from spending voters approved in 2020.
Other articles on the ballot seek the transfer of $20,000 from the Highway Fund into the Highway Equipment Reserve Fund, and 20 separate funding request for municipal and nonprofit entities that deliver services to Shoreham residents.
There are no contested local elections in Shoreham this year.
Write-in campains will be needed to fill spots for town moderator (one year), lister (three years), town agent (one year) and constable (one year).
Shoreham residents will also vote on several issues in the Addison Central School District.
Shoreham is one of six ACSD communities that will be asked to ratify the town of Ripton’s Jan. 12 vote to withdraw from the district. A majority of Ripton residents favored withdrawing and become an independent school district, in an effort to prevent its elementary school from closing. Ripton would then be responsible for lining up public education for its preK-12 students. If a majority of residents in any of the other six towns vote against ratification, Ripton would remain part of the ACSD.
Shoreham voters will also cast ballots on a proposed $40.3 million ACSD spending plan for the 2021-2022 academic year.
The budget features a 0.59% decrease in education spending compared to this year and brings the ACSD’s  estimated per pupil spending to $18,937 — a 0.34% increase compared to this year.
The school board is applying $550,000 of unassigned reserve funds to the budget, without which the ACSD’s education spending per equalized pupil threshold would have been $19,255. That figure would exceed the state’s equalized per-pupil spending threshold by $309 per student.
ACSD voters will also be asked to allow the board to transfer $623,744 in Fiscal Year 2020 fund balance to the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
In ACSD elections, incumbent ACSD board member Peter Conlon faces competition from Chris Kramer for Cornwall’s lone (three-year) seat on the district board. Separately, Davina Desmarais, Mary Heather Noble and Lindsey Hescock are competing for two available three-year terms representing Middlebury.
Barb Wilson is running unopposed for Shoreham’s seat on the ACSD panel. All members are voted at-large.
Shoreham is among the communities served by the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which is proposing a 2021-2022 budget of $3,829,301, representing a 0.92% decrease in expenses compared to this year. This translates to $23,827 in spending per full-time equivalent student. This projected spending per fulltime equivalent student is 6.57% lower than spending for the current year.

STARKSBORO
There will be no in-person town meeting in Starksboro this year due to COVID-19. The town will host an informational meeting, via Zoom, on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 9 a.m. All voting will take place by Australian ballot in-person in the multipurpose room of Robinson Elementary School on March 2 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters may request an absentee ballot be mailed to them, or they may pick one up at the town office.
Starksboro voters are asked to approve $1,008,311 in General Fund spending next year, a decrease of $27,761, or 2.7%, from the current year.
If approved, contributions to the Fire Department Equipment Reserve Fund would increase by $1,971, or 4%, to $51,239. Contributions to the Road Equipment Service Fund would increase by $3,891, or 3.8%, to $101,158. And the Paving Reserve Fund contribution would remain level at $40,000.
The Starksboro Public Library is asking for $35,375, a $3,425, or 10.7%, increase.
Funding for in-town requests for local organizations, if approved, would increase by $2,575, or 5.8%, to $47,000.
Out-of-town requests to 24 entities, if approved, would increase by $1,156, or 4.2%, to $28,536.
Two Starksboro selectboard seats are up for election this year.
Koran Cousino is running unopposed for another three-year term, and Carrie Austgen is challenging incumbent Carin McCarthy for a two-year term.
One of Starksboro’s two seats on the Mount Abraham Unified School District board is up for election this year. Steven Rooney is running unopposed to keep his seat.
The MAUSD was scheduled to hold its annual meeting via Zoom on Feb. 23.
 
On Town Meeting Day, Starksboro residents voting on town business will also, along with residents of the four other school district towns, be asked to approve a $31,753,310 education spending plan for next year, an increase of $354,128, or 1.1%.

VERGENNES
The Vergennes annual meeting to discuss city business will be held on Zoom on Monday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. Log-on instructions are in the city warning, which is posted online at vergennes.org; or instructions can be seen here: tinyurl.com/3znl5j8z.
Voting hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the city’s Green Street fire station, where residents will decide a contested race for the city council, but not for mayor. City residents are urged to contact the city clerk about getting an absentee ballot to vote via the mail.
Former Vergennes City Councilor and City Manager Matt Chabot was the only resident to file a petition to run for mayor, and thus faces no on-ballot opposition for the post.
The race for three openings on the city council, however, is contested on the ballot, and write-in efforts are always possible in either race. Five are seeking those three council openings, including three incumbents, and the top three vote-getters will earn seats.
Multi-term incumbent Lowell Bertrand, who became deputy mayor in September, and fellow incumbents Mel Hawley and Ian Huizenga, who joined the council this past September after special elections, will face two challengers.
They are former multi-term Addison Northwest School District board member Sue Rakowski, a former chairperson, and the other is Raymond Henry Paul, who ran unsuccessfully for the council in September.
Running unopposed elsewhere on the ballot are incumbents Mark Koenig, to return to the ANWSD board, and Thelma “Kitty” Oxholm, to return to the Vergennes-Panton Water District board.
In school business, the Addison Northwest School District board proposed a $21.6 million 2021-2022 (FY22) budget that comes in at about $238,400 less than current district spending.
The school board also voted to put $266,000 of a $1.585 million surplus toward FY22 that officials said should allow the district tax rate to remain the same as the current year at $1.772 per $100 or assessed property value, despite declining enrollment.
Initially, school officials projected declining Common Levels of Appraisal in all ANWSD communities except Panton would lead to tax increases.
More recently, according to lawmakers in Montpelier several things have changed favorably that could lower the statewide education tax rate and thus local taxes, including a healthier Education Fund and lower than expected school spending proposed statewide, and pending legislation. The Independent will track this story and publish up-to-date information separately.
ANWSD also seeks voter approval for other financial questions on the ballot:
•  A request to create an Education Stabilization Fund using $890,895 of the surplus. Officials said that fund could be used to protect the district from a financial emergency during a school year.
•  $475,000 from the surplus into the existing general district-wide ANWSD capital reserve fund.
•  Financing of up to $380,000 to pay for mitigation of a mold infestation at Ferrisburgh Central School.

WALTHAM
Waltham held the informational meeting in advance of its annual town meeting day ballot back on Feb. 8. Voting hours on the ballot at Waltham Town Hall will be March 2, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Waltham will vote by Australian ballot on its financial articles and choosing town officers — rather than in person at the town meeting — for the first time in recent memory, possibly ever.
Selectboard member Andrew Martin will be on the ballot running unopposed for another term.
A political change is also proposed: Articles are asking residents to approve measures that would make the town clerk and town treasurer appointed positions.
Waltham’s selectboard members believe that with the increasing complexity of both jobs it is necessary to have a broader applicant pool in the future.
Lucille Evarts, Waltham’s treasurer and assistant town clerk, has been the acting clerk since the Dec. 26 passing of Town Clerk Mary Ann Castimore. Evarts has said she would like to serve as clerk for another year.
The board proposed a town budget of $239,086, up about $20,000 over current spending. Increases are due to about $13,500 in road maintenance costs and a $6,500 boost to a buildings and grounds reserve fund.
The board is seeking approval of three redefined reserve funds and two new funds, all of which are in the budget and total about $22,000.
Residents are also being asked to support $12,000 of a fund balance to offset tax increases. If they do, the bottom-line increase in money needed to be raised from tax revenue will be about $10,000, according to the selectboard.
In school business, the Addison Northwest School District board proposed a $21.6 million 2021-2022 (FY22) budget that comes in at about $238,400 less than current district spending.
The school board also voted to put $266,000 of a $1.585 million surplus toward FY22 that officials said should allow the district tax rate to remain the same as the current year at $1.772 per $100 or assessed property value despite declining enrollment.
Initially, school officials projected declining Common Levels of Appraisal in all ANWSD communities except Panton would lead to tax increases.
More recently, according to lawmakers in Montpelier several things have changed favorably that could lower the statewide education tax rate and thus local taxes, including a healthier Education Fund and lower than expected school spending proposed statewide, and pending legislation. The Independent will track this story and publish up-to-date information separately.
ANWSD also seeks voter approval for other financial questions on the ballot:
•  A request to create an Education Stabilization Fund using $890,895 of the surplus. Officials said that fund could be used to protect the district from a financial emergency during a school year.
•  $475,000 from the surplus into the existing general district-wide ANWSD capital reserve fund.
•  Financing of up to $380,000 to pay for mitigation of a mold infestation at Ferrisburgh Central School.

WEYBRIDGE
Weybridge residents on March 2 will weigh in on level-funded highway and town budgets and an attempt by the town of Ripton to leave the Addison Central School District (ACSD).
Weybridge will be conducting all its business by Australian ballot this year. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, at the Weybridge town office. The selectboard was set to convene an informational meeting on Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Voters will be asked to approve a 2021-2022 highway budget of $519,400, the exact same amount townspeople endorsed for highway expenses last Town Meeting Day.
The general fund request comes in at $168,800, a slight decrease from $169,480.
Other articles on the 2021 warning seek:
•  $25,000 for the Weybridge Volunteer Fire Department.
•  $10,000 to continue the community’s volunteer recycling program for another year.
•  A combined total of $27,925 for more than a dozen Addison County charitable organizations.
There are no contested elections on the ballot this year in Weybridge.
Weybridge residents will also vote on several issues in the ACSD.
Weybridge is one of six ACSD communities that will be asked to ratify the town of Ripton’s Jan. 12 vote to withdraw from the district. A majority of Ripton residents favored withdrawing and become an independent school district, in an effort to prevent its elementary school from closing. Ripton would then be responsible for lining up public education for its preK-12 students. If a majority of residents in any of the other six towns vote against ratification, Ripton would remain part of the ACSD.
Weybridge voters will also cast ballots on a proposed $40.3 million ACSD spending plan for the 2021-2022 academic year.
The budget features a 0.59% decrease in education spending compared to this year and brings the ACSD’s  estimated per pupil spending to $18,937 — a 0.34% increase compared to this year.
The school board is applying $550,000 of unassigned reserve funds to the budget, without which the ACSD’s education spending per equalized pupil threshold would have been $19,255. That figure would exceed the state’s equalized per-pupil spending threshold by $309 per student.
ACSD voters will also be asked to allow the board to transfer $623,744 in Fiscal Year 2020 fund balance to the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
In ACSD elections, incumbent board member Peter Conlon faces competition from Chris Kramer for Cornwall’s lone (three-year) seat on the district board. Meanwhile, Davina Desmarais, Mary Heather Noble and Lindsey Hescock are competing for two available three-year terms representing Middlebury.
Barb Wilson is running unopposed for Shoreham’s seat on the ACSD panel. All members are voted at-large.
 
Weybridge is among the communities served by the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which is proposing a 2021-2022 budget of $3,829,301, representing a 0.92% decrease in expenses compared to this year. This translates to $23,827 in spending per full-time equivalent student on a 6-semester trailing average. This projected spending per fulltime equivalent student is 6.57% lower than spending for the current year.

WHITING
Whiting is one of only two Addison County towns that plan to hold an in-person town meeting this year (the other is Addison). Whiting is unique, though, in that town leaders have delayed the annual town meeting from the customary first Tuesday in March to Saturday, May 22, instead.
“We’re going to have an in-person meeting,” Whiting Town Clerk Heather Bouchard said. “We’re just going to have it outside. It will be warmer by then.”
The selectboard warned the town meeting for 1 p.m. at the town hall on Main Street on the fourth Saturday in May.
With the meeting delayed, the setting of budget proposals and election slates have also been delayed, though at their Jan. 25 meeting selectmen said they were nearly done with the budget. Whiting Town Reports are due to be mailed to residents by April 22.
Bouchard explained that any town official whose terms normally would end on Town Meeting Day will see their terms extended to May 22, when residents can vote on officials at the in-person meeting, as usual. Selectman Bob Wood’s term expires this year, so if he wishes to remain in office, or if someone would like to run to take his place, residents will vote at the May 22 town meeting on who holds that position.
Although there will be no municipal voting in Whiting this month, residents will get to vote in the Otter Valley Unified Union School District (OVUUSD) Australian ballot voting, which will be on Tuesday, March 2. All registered voters will receive a school ballot.
Due to COVID-19, the OVUUSD informational meeting was held virtually via Zoom on Feb. 24.
The OVUUSD budget proposes $21,039,634 in spending in the coming year, which represents a 3.25% increase. According to a district flier, the single biggest increase (on a percentage basis) is for employee benefits, which are going up 1.41%, or $287,000.
Whiting voters will get to vote on three positions on the OV school board: the town’s three-year seat (currently held by Rebecca Bertrand), plus a three-year at-large seat (held by Greg Bernhardt) and a second at-large seat, which is the two remaining years on an empty three-year seat.
Polls will be set up at Whiting Town Hall with school voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents may return their OV ballot to the town clerk or bring it to the polling place on Tuesday. Anyone who needs a new ballot for any reason may pick one up at the Whiting Town Hall on March 2.

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