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Town Meeting 2022 Results

IT WAS JUST like old times ... plus face masks. As we approach the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic and most Vermont towns again decided all of their annual town meeting decisions by Australian ballot, folks in Goshen saw the falling infection rate and decided to host an in-person town meeting this past Monday night. Here some of the three dozen participants weigh in on an article with a show of hands. Independent photo/Steve James

ADDISON COUNTY — Here’s what happened at the 24 town meetings in our coverage area.

ADDISON

Addison on Tuesday elected without opposition Cheri Waterman as only its third town clerk in about 50 years.

Waterman replaces Marilla Webb, who stepped down after almost a decade. Webb took over from Jane Grace in 2012 after Grace had served 40-plus years.

Webb decided to retire, effective March 1, after about 35 years in the Addison Town Clerk’s Office — she served as Grace’s assistant clerk for 26 years.

Also elected without opposition on the Addison ballot were incumbent selectboard members Roger Waterman and Steve Torrey, lister John Spencer, and Tri-Town Water District Board member Larry Blacklock.

Addison’s only contested race was a family affair in which youth was served. Incumbent delinquent tax collector Caetlin Harwood fended off a challenge for the job by her father, Alden Harwood, 125-81.

In Australian balloting on Tuesday Addison voters also backed about $200,000 of higher town spending, an increase offset by the selectboard decision to apply about $74,000 of an audited fund balance to check taxes, plus grant money to help pay for increased sheriff patrols due to vehicles taking shortcuts on town roads because of the Route 125 washout.

They supported a selectboard’s general fund budget of around $590,000, 175-46. Pushing that budget higher were decisions to make the assistant clerk’s position fulltime, with associated benefits, and to keep Webb on to help with the transition to a new clerk.

The board also decided to add a fulltime position to the town road crew, a move that along with benefits were the major drivers of a roughly $90,000 increase in town Highway Fund spending to $893,914. That proposal won approval, 181-40.

Voters also backed all social-service and nonprofit requests.

Addison on March 1 joined the other four Addison Northwest School District communities in approving a $22,327,585 spending plan for the next school year. Ballots were counted all together so there is no town-by-town results. That budget will increase spending by 3.35%, but not raise taxes.

According to the district estimates homestead property taxes would drop in all five ANWSD communities if voters supported that budget. Officials said they were confident in their estimates, but actions by state officials and/or legislators could move the numbers.

In Addison, ANWSD officials expect a decrease in the homestead rate of about 2 cents, from $1.6929 per $100 in assessed property value to $1.6722.

Voters also backed an ANWSD board request to use $1.5 million of the district’s $1.86 million audit-confirmed surplus for repairs and upgrades at Vergennes Union elementary and high schools.

See a school budges story for vote and spending details.

***

BRANDON

In Brandon’s one contested race during Town Meeting Day voting, incumbent Selectman Timothy Guiles won re-election to a three-year term over first-time challenger Marielle Blais in a fairly tight race, 466-396. The two contestants shared similar progressive values, though differed in approach and personality.

Blais said she was not disappointed.

“Campaigning has been a good experience and I would certainly consider running again for select board,” she said on Tuesday night.

Guiles praised the tenor of the campaign, noting that “Marielle ran a positive race and in many ways, we have a very similar progressive point of view.”

Brandon’s general fund budget, highway budget and 11 articles that requested separate spending all passed by significant margins.

In other voting, residents overwhelming re-elected Bill Moore as town moderator, 884-10; re-elected Seth Hopkins and Michael Markowski to one-year selectboard terms by votes of 658 and 700 respectively; elected Courtney Satz to a three-year term as Trustee of Public Funds with 861 votes, and elected David Roberts to a two-year term as trustee of the Brandon Free Public Library with 822 votes. All were unopposed.

BRANDON ELECTION OFFICIALS help check in and get residents their ballots for Australian ballot voting at the Brandon American Legion Hall on Tuesday, March 1. Staffing the two stations were, left to right, Wendy Rowe Feldman, Bud Coolidge (27 years), Laura Peterson, Marge Munger and Hillary Knapp. Independent photo/Angelo Lynn

Barbara Ebling of Brandon won a three-year term for an at-large seat on the OVUUSD board.

Residents OK’d the $3,230,130 town budget, with $2,712,274 to be raised by taxes, by a vote of 629-307. Voter’s also approved spending $92,000 for the Brandon Free Public Library, 690-262, and $82,580 for the Brandon Area Rescue Squad Inc., 786-165.

But all was not positive on the spending front. In voting across the six towns in the Otter Valley Unified Union School District, voters rejected the proposed $22,710,955 school spending plan, 522-462. The district’s proposed budget presented a 7.8% jump in spending but taxes were not expected to rise nearly as much, with Brandon’s taxes projected to rise only 1.69%.

The defeat comes as a surprise only because very little public comment against the budget had been noticeable ahead of the Town Meeting Day vote.

***

BRIDPORT

Bridport residents on March 1 joined other Middlebury-area voters in deciding two contested races for the Addison Central School District board, and also endorsed a proposed $8.1 million repair plan for the Patricia Hannaford Career Center.

Residents in the seven ACSD member towns voted out two incumbents. Challenger Joanna Doria defeated incumbent Amy McGlashan, 1,461-802 to represent Ripton on the 13-member panel. They also endorsed Jamie McCallum over incumbent Mary Cullinane, 1,389-845, to serve three years as the Weybridge rep on the board, which oversees preK-12 education for children in the ACSD.

Running unopposed for three three-year seats representing Middlebury on the ACSD board were James “Chip” Malcolm, Steve Orzech and Brian Bauer.

Bridport residents approved, by comfortable margins, a fiscal year 2023 highway budget of $1,099,and the 2022-2023 general fund request of $322,380.

Residents also agreed to support the Bridport Fire Department to the tune of $20,000 during FY’23, and also OK’d a variety of social service agency requests, ranging from $190 for the Vermont Center for Independent Living, to $12,180 for Middlebury Regional EMS.

There were no contested races on the Bridport ballot. Unopposed candidates elected to Bridport offices included Tim Howlett for a one-year term as town moderator; Robert Sunderland, two years, selectboard; Pierre Bordeleau, three years, selectboard; and Darwin Pratt, three years, Tri-Town Water District No. 1 commissioner.

Bridport residents on Tuesday supported a 2022-2023 ACSD budget of $41,578,089 that passed by a 1,805-630 tally (see related story.)

In other school-related voting, Bridport citizens weighed in on a 2022-2023 Patricia Hannaford Career Center 2022-2023 budget of $4,104,157 that will bankroll a variety of career and technical education programs for children in 17 Addison County towns. The request passed, 4,528-1,427.

They also supported spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury. The project earned a combined 4,278-1,470 endorsement.

***

BRISTOL

On Town Meeting Day, Ian Albinson (three-year term) and Darla Senecal (two-year term) were re-elected to the Bristol selectboard. Both ran unopposed.

Two elections of note were contested. In the often sleepy race for town moderator, Jennifer Wagner defeated Gary Russell, 386-334. There was also a contested school board election; Erin Jipner defeated William Mount, 496-212, to complete the remaining two years of the Mount Abraham Unified School District Boar term she was appointed to in 2021.

A LITTLE BOY gets a civics lesson while his mom votes Tuesday in the Middlebury Recreation Center, where three candidates won seats on the local
selectboard. Independent photo/Steve James

“I am just grateful to continue working towards the healthy and sustainable future of MAUSD,” Jipner told the Independent in an email Wednesday morning. “I hope to keep being a strong voice for the stakeholders of Bristol and offer an open opportunity for all to speak with me and others on the board about their experiences, wishes, and hopes.”

For the other Bristol seat on the MAUSD board, Liz Sayre, who ran unopposed, was re-elected to a three-year term.

The following municipal officials were also elected: First Constable Bruce Nason; Library Trustees Elizabeth Almeter and Erin Jipner; and Lister Mark Bouvier.

All of the warned articles in Bristol were voted on by Australian ballot this year, and all of them passed. On Tuesday voters approved:

  • $957,425 in General Fund spending.
  • $830,770 in Public Works/Highway spending.
  • $320,546 for the Arts, Parks and Recreation Department.
  • $537,000 for various Town Reserve Fund accounts.
  • $153,899 for Lawrence Memorial Library.
  • $29,000 for the Bristol Cemetery Association.
  • $108,531 for 28 voted appropriations.
  • Transferring a total of $150,000 of the FY 21 surplus to five future-needs accounts.

Bristol voters also approved, 513-264, a measure that will permit licensed cannabis retailers to operate in the town (see story).

Folks in the Bristol Police District (primarily the village) approved $504,579 in spending for the Bristol Police Department next year.

A few MAUSD items were also on the ballot Tuesday:

In combination with the other four district towns, Bristol gave a thumbs-up to all of the MAUSD’s spending requests for next year, including a $32.6 million budget (see story).

Bristol voters also ratified Lincoln’s plan to withdraw from the MAUSD, 552-219 (see story).

Bristol voters also helped pass a number of spending requests from the Patricia Hannaford Career Center (see story).

***

CORNWALL

Cornwall voters on Town Meeting Day agreed to switch the date of their annual gathering, helped decide two contested races for the Addison Central School District board, and fielded several municipal and education funding requests.

Residents voted 268-102 to henceforth convene their annual meeting on the Saturday preceding the first Tuesday in March, at 10 a.m., rather than the current practice of meeting on Monday evening preceding the first Tuesday in March.

In other action, Cornwall residents voted:

  • 369-14 to appropriate $505,072 for fiscal year 2023 general fund expenses.
  • 361-16 to allocate $476,100 for highway expenses. The town is expected to receive enough state aid to bump that figure down to $411,100.
  • 369-12 for $4,000 for the Cornwall Free Public Library.
  • 378-5 to earmark $67,950 for the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department.
  • 352-6 to set aside $50,000 of the town’s fiscal year 2021 surplus of $111,317 surplus to use for an upcoming town-wide reappraisal, and use the remaining $61,317 to stabilize property taxes.
  • 355-20 to exempt Mary Baker Allen Chapter DAR House from property taxation for five years.
  • 351-31 to make the town clerk’s position appointed rather than elected; and 248-31 for the same switch for town treasurer.

Cornwall had no contested elections. Among those elected unopposed were Don Burns, for a three-yearn term on the selectboard; Benjamin Marks, two years, selectboard; Cy Tall, one year, town moderator; Rodney Cadoret, one year, collector of delinquent taxes; Don Burns and Lauren Ringey, each for three years, Cornwall Planning Commission.

In other action on March 1, residents in the seven ACSD-member towns — including Cornwall — voted out two board incumbents. Challenger Joanna Doria defeated incumbent Amy McGlashan, 1,461-802 to represent Ripton on the 13-member panel. They also endorsed Jamie McCallum over incumbent Mary Cullinane, 1,389-845, to serve three years as the Weybridge representative.

Winning (unopposed) for three three-years seats representing Middlebury on the ACSD board were James “Chip” Malcolm, Steve Orzech and Brian Bauer.

Cornwall residents on Tuesday supported a 2022-2023 ACSD budget of $41,578,089 that passed by a 1,805-630 tally (see related story). The ACSD delivers prek-12 public education to children in in Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge.

In other school-related voting, Cornwall citizens weighed in on a 2022-2023 Patricia Hannaford Career Center 2022-2023 budget of $4,104,157 that will bankroll a variety of career and technical education programs for children in 17 Addison County towns. The request passed, 4,528-1,427.

They also supported spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury. The project earned a combined 4,278-1,470 endorsement.

***

FERRISBURGH

Ferrisburgh residents backed all spending and other articles, including two supporting cannabis sales, in Australian balloting on Tuesday.

Voting supported two selectboard members who were running for re-election without opposition, Chris Campbell for two years and Clark Hinsdale for three years.

Residents also backed newcomer Nichole Bearor for a seat on the Addison Northwest School Board, but another open school board seat went begging and the selectboard will have to make an appointment to fill the vacancy.

An article asking whether cannabis retailers should be allowed to operate in the town was approved, 294-172, and residents backed another that would allow cannabis integrated licensees to operate in Ferrisburgh, 295-170.

Residents also backed financial measures that, including all nonprofit requests and a capital fund request, will push town spending up by almost 6%, or about $133,000, to about $2.366 million.

But the overall tax impact of that increase, if any, is up in the air. The selectboard could chooses to use some of a $449,000 surplus to offset a potential tax hike.

Ferrisburgh voters also approved:

  • By 382-83, a proposed selectboard budget of $2,308,976 that will increase spending by about $76,000 over the current fiscal year.
  • By 375-93, the purchase of a backhoe for up to $120,000, to be paid off over five years.
  • By 364-38, a total of $37,195 in nonprofit donations.
  • By 371-94, an increase of $20,000 in the town’s annual donation to the highway department’s contingency fund, from $40,000 to $60,000. The town uses that fund to lower the amount it needs to borrow to buy new highway department equipment.

The approval of the capital fund increase and the nonprofit requests brings total proposed spending for the coming 2022-2023 fiscal year to the $2.366 million figure. Payments on the backhoe will not begin this fiscal year, town officials said.

If the selectboard chooses not to apply any of the surplus and spending were to increase by $133,000, a tax-rate increase of about 2.3 cents would cover it.

Ferrisburgh also joined the other four Addison Northwest School District communities in backing in commingled voting a proposed $22,327,585 spending plan for the next school year.

That budget would increase spending by 3.35% over the current level, but not increase taxes.

According to district estimates homestead property taxes would drop in all five ANWSD communities. Officials said they were confident in their estimates, but actions by state officials and/or legislators could move the numbers.

In Ferrisburgh, ANWSD officials expect a decrease in the homestead rate of about 5 cents, from $1.7047 per $100 of assessed property value to $1.6539.

The ANWSD board’s request to use $1.5 million of the district’s $1.86 million audit-confirmed surplus for repairs and upgrades at Vergennes Union elementary and high schools also won voter approval.

Read a school budgets story for details on the ANWSD vote and budget.

***

JEN SWEENEY CHECKS a fact in the town report at the Goshen town meeting at the town hall Monday night.
Independent photo/Steve James

GOSHEN

An unusually large spending item on the Goshen’s town meeting warning animated the group of about three dozen residents who came to an in-person meeting at town hall Monday evening.

But first, town meeting participants dispensed with smaller spending issues. They agreed to deposit $4,000 per year for five years into a fund to pay for repairs to the town hall. The town will work toward getting grants for specific projects to augment that fund.

Then, without much discussion, the $248,351 municipal budget passed by voice vote. It was $4,000 more than was warned because the town hall repair money was tacked on.

Then came the most contentious item: Article 5, which asked for $621,068 to improve and pave Town Hill Road. The issue arose when homeowners on that road came to a selectboard meeting en mass a few months ago and demanded that the crumbling pavement be replaced. The selectboard got the state Agency of Transportation to put the project out for bid and the low bid was the figure voted on. Although a few feathers were ruffled before the vote, the measure was defeated almost unanimously on a voice vote.

“There was a little bit of miscommunication,” Assistant Town Clerk Marci Hayes recounted. “The board wanted people to see how much this would cost.

“Bill Mathis, our moderator, did a very good job keeping everything on topic.”

After rejecting the $621K ask, the residents present then OK’d spending $214,700 on the highways. Hayes said the town agreed to do some patching on Town Hill Road and look for grant money to pay for a full repaving.

Goshen residents also took a first step toward getting rid of garbage and recycling pickup at every house and instead having homeowners drop off their refuse at a central collection point. In a non-binding vote residents said they were good with exploring that option.

The results of Australian voting on Tuesday resulted in some familiar faces in Goshen municipal government, and some new ones.

Two veterans declined to stand for re-election: Selectman David McKinnon and Town Treasurer Vickee Whiting. Taking their spots will be Thomasina Magoon, who won a three-year seat on the selectboard with 63 votes, and Susanne George, who garnered 63 votes for treasurer.

Incumbent Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon was re-elected with 51 votes.

***

GRANVILLE

Granville opted not to hold its annual town meeting this week. Instead, the town’s selectboard decided to hold the annual meeting on Tuesday, May 17, 6-8 p.m. at Granville Town Hall. With the delay, officials figure they could hold the meeting in person and be safe from COVID-19.

The selectboard, which meets about once a month, hopes to finish its municipal and road budgets at its next meeting, March 14.

Granville will also select a new town clerk and treasurer in May. Longtime Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Werner gave the selectboard notice and they thanked her for her years of service to the community. They then appointed Cheryl Sergeant town clerk and Nancy Needham to be town treasurer. Both will hold their positions until the May 17 town meeting. Sergeant said she and Needham both plan to extend their tenures at the May elections.

Selectman Bruce Hyde’s term would have ended at town meeting this year. Sergeant on Wednesday said Hyde’s term appears to be automatically extended until May 17, at which point he’s likely to run for re-election.

***

HANCOCK

The proposed town budget passed in Hancock on Tuesday, but residents did not give it an overwhelming endorsement. The warned municipal budget of $377,116, which would cover both general expenses and highway spending, represented an increase of less than half a percent from what voters OK’d last year. On Town Meeting day, Hancock voters approved the new spending plan with 36 in favor and 27 opposed.

GOSHEN SELECTBOARD CHAIR David McKinnon and colleague Diane O’Classen survey attendees at the tiny community’s town meeting Monday night. Goshen was one of a few communities to hold an in-person town meeting this year.
Independent photo/Steve James

Nothing else on the ballot was that close a margin, other than the three-year term for auditor. Three Hancock residents garnered two votes apiece, four got one vote each, there was one spoiled ballot, and 52 blank. Perhaps that wasn’t so surprising since Article 3 — “Shall the voters authorize the elimination of the Office of Lister and replace it with a professionally qualified assessor appointed by the select board” — passed, 42-20, and Hancock voters seemed to be in the mood for professional financial help.

They did re-elect the incumbent town treasurer, Jody Jesso, with 56 votes (three blank ballots was the closest competitor). Jesso was re-elected town clerk by a larger margin. Jim Leno won a three-year seat on the selectboard (he got 36 votes, Jeannette Bair got 17). Others elected with more than 50 votes were Constable Scott Gillette, Collector of Delinquent Taxes Jamie Morin, Cemetery Commissioner Geraldine “Jakey” Twitchell and Road Commissioner Dan Perera.

Social service agencies winning appropriations included the Hancock Town Pride organization ($1,500), Tri Valley Transit/Stagecoach $558), Central Vermont Council on Aging ($800), Visiting Nurse Alliance of VT/NH Inc. ($1,475), Quin-Town Senior Center ($2,716), White River Valley Ambulance ($23,335 or approximately $65 per capita), Granville Volunteer Fire Dept. First Responders ($2,101) and Addison County Restorative Justice ($90.54).

***

LEICESTER

When it came to the big money items on the Town Meeting Day warning, Leicester voters were an easy sale. On Tuesday they approved Article 2 by a margin of 90-20. Article 2 proposed municipal spending of $325,676 (with $247,684 raised by taxes), which represents a 4.8% from the current year. It also asked for highway spending of $436,590 (with $347,913 to be raised by taxes).

The other non-office question on the Leicester ballot was not a pushover. When asked if voters in the town of Leicester would authorize the retail sale of cannabis, residents said No on 56 ballots, and Yes on only 53; one ballot was left blank. Bristol, Ferrisburgh, New Haven and Weybridge all had similar retail cannabis questions on their ballots and they all passed.

CHECKING FOLKS IN at the Leicester town clerk’s office on Tuesday were Ashlie Hall (daughter of Town Clerk Julie Delphia) in the foreground, and Donna Swinnington. Turnout was moderate but steady throughout the day.
Independent photo/Angelo Lynn

There were no contested races on this year’s ballot, but two new faces landed in town government. Diane Randall won a two-year seat on the Leicester selectboard (she replaced Ron Fiske); and Rolande Morrison won the remaining year of an auditor’s position that is currently vacant. Also on the ballot, winning incumbents were Richard Reed (town moderator, 1 year), Diane Benware (selectboard, 3 years), Donna Pidgeon (auditor, 3 years) and Beth Swinington Ripley (delinquent tax collector, 1 year).

In voting across the six towns in the Otter Valley Unified Union School District, residents rejected the proposed $22,710,955 school spending plan, 522-462. The district’s proposed budget presented a 7.8% jump in spending but taxes were not expected to rise nearly as much.

The defeat comes as a surprise only because very little public comment against the budget had been noticeable ahead of the Town Meeting Day vote. See more in a school budgets story.

***

LINCOLN

On Town Meeting Day Alan Schmidt defeated incumbent Will Sipsey, 190-174, for a three-year term on the Lincoln selectboard.

“I would like to thank the voters for the opportunity and look forward to serving on the board,” Schmidt told the Independent in an email Wednesday morning.

Incumbent selectboard member Bay Jackson, who ran unopposed, was re-elected for another two-year term.

Also elected in Lincoln were Town Clerk Sally Ober, Town Treasurer Lisa Truchon, First Constable Matt Collins, Second Constable Mark Truax, Collector of Delinquent Taxes Nancy Stevens, and Lincoln Library Trustees Erika French and Jacqueline Olson.

Town Moderator Todd Goodyear didn’t file his paperwork in time to appear on the ballot (ahem), but he ran a successful write-in campaign and was re-elected with 144 votes.

Lincoln voters also gave the selectboard permission to appoint the town treasurer in the future.

All of the warned articles in Lincoln were voted by Australian ballot, and all of them passed. On Tuesday, Lincoln voters approved:

  • $496,425 in General Fund spending.
  • $1,069,057 in Highway Fund spending.
  • $175,000 for the Paving Reserve Fund.
  • $5,000 for the Lincoln Cooperative Preschool.
  • $44,000 for the Lincoln Library.
  • $3,000 to help Lincoln Sports Inc.
  • $55,896 for the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company.
  • $7,500 in support of Bristol Rescue.
  • $5,000 for the Lincoln Cemetery Association.
  • $1,000 for the Lincoln Community School Mentor Program.
  • $300 for Addison Allies to support migrant farmworkers in Addison County.
  • $19,560 for various voted appropriations.
  • The establishment of a reserve fund to pay periodic costs for reclamation of town sand pit property after extraction of sand.

On the Mount Abraham Unified School District front, Lincoln, in combination with the other four district towns, gave a thumbs-up to all of the MAUSD’s spending requests for next year, including a $32.6 million budget (see story).

Lincoln voters also helped pass a number of spending requests from the Patricia Hannaford Career Center (see story).

And finally, more than six months after Lincoln voters approved, by a 3-to-1 margin, a proposal to withdraw from MAUSD, voters in the district’s four other member towns of Bristol, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro ratified Lincoln’s exit plan — by a 3-to-1 margin (see story).

A total of 394 Lincoln residents cast Town Meeting Day ballots this year — 14 fewer than last year. Of those, 154 were absentee ballots.

***

MIDDLEBURY

Middlebury residents on Town Meeting Day decided a contested election for three seats on the town selectboard and overwhelmingly supported a relatively light business agenda. That agenda included a proposed 2022-23 municipal budget of $11,927,483 — with $7,881,063 to be raised by taxes — that will result in a 3-cent bump in the town tax rate (a 3.9% increase).

There were four people vying for three available three-year terms on the Middlebury selectboard (see story). Incumbent Esther Thomas was the top vote-getter with 955 tallies, followed by challenger Andy Hooper (845) and incumbent Heather Seeley (783). Resident Matthew Delia-Lôbo finished out of the running with 516 votes in this, his first municipal election.

The municipal spending proposal earned a 1,076-to-137 nod. The budget reflects inflationary pressures, the commitment to capital improvements and scheduled replacement and maintenance of municipal vehicles and equipment. It also maintains the current level of town services.

Middlebury’s municipal tax rate will rise from the current $0.7969 to $0.8269 per $100 in assessed value, as a result of the new budget. It’s the first increase in several years.

ESTHER THOMAS (LEFT) and Andy Hooper (third from left) hold signs outside the polls at Middlebury’s recreation facility off Creek Road
on Tuesday. Thomas and Hooper each won three-year terms on the Middlebury selectboard.
Independent photo/Steve James

In other action on Town Meeting Day, residents voted:

  • 1,111 to 109 to extend the property tax exemption for Middlebury Regional Emergency & Medical Services for five years.
  • 1,128-98 to give $750 to the nonprofit Addison Allies Network Inc. to continue assisting migrant farm workers and immigrants in Addison County.

Those winning uncontested seats were Steve Gross and Joe McVeigh, Ilsley Library trustee, both for three years; Susan Shashok, town moderator, one year; and Elizabeth Dow, town lister, three years.

Three of Middlebury’s seven seats on the Addison Central School District board were up for grabs, and three people stepped forward to fill those three-year terms: Incumbent James “Chip” Malcolm (1,821 votes), Steve Orzech (1,566) and Brian Bauer (1,537).

In other action on March 1, residents in the ACSD member towns — including Middlebury — voted out two board incumbents in favor of their challengers. Joanna Doria defeated incumbent Amy McGlashan, 1,461-802, to represent Ripton, and Jamie McCallum defeated incumbent Mary Cullinane, 1,389-845, to serve three years as the Weybridge rep.

Middlebury residents on Tuesday supported a 2022-23 ACSD budget of $41,578,089 that passed by a 1,805-630 tally (see related story).

In other school-related voting, Middlebury citizens weighed in on a 2022-23 Patricia Hannaford Career Center budget of $4,104,157 that will bankroll a variety of career and technical education programs for children in 17 Addison County towns. The request passed, 4,528-1,427.

They also supported — by a margin of 4,278-1,470 — spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury.

***

MONKTON

On Town Meeting Day, MariKate Kelley (three-year term) and Paul Low (two-year term) were re-elected to the Monkton selectboard. Both ran unopposed.

Other Monkton officials elected were Town Clerk Sharon Gomez, Town Moderator Jerry Schwarz, Constable Marc Beaupre, Auditor Randall Charboneau, and Planning Commissioners Peter Close, Lee Mahoney and Gary Strait.

Jane Low, Samuel Ludwig and Cynthia Walcott won spots as Russell Memorial Library trustees.

All of the warned articles in Monkton were voted by Australian ballot and all passed. On Tuesday voters approved:

  • $767,272 in General Fund expenditures.
  • $931,814 in Highway Fund expenditures.
  • $27,749 for social service agencies.
  • Spending up to $46,790 to purchase a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.
  • A measure to delay the sale of the 1859 Town Hall building until Sept. 1, in order to give the Monkton Museum and Historical Society or other community group time to generate an acceptable proposal to take on responsibility for the building.

A few Mount Abraham Unified School District items were also on the ballot Tuesday:

In combination with the other four district towns, Monkton gave a thumbs-up to all of the MAUSD’s spending requests for next year, including a $32.6 million budget (see story).

Monkton voters also ratified Lincoln’s plan to withdraw from the MAUSD, 289-70 (see story).

One of Monkton’s two seats on the MAUSD board was up for election this year — a seat left open after board member Kristin Blanchette decided not to run again. Bailee Layn-Gordon, who ran unopposed, was elected to the seat for a three-year term.

Monkton voters also helped pass a number of spending requests from the Patricia Hannaford Career Center (see story).

***

NEW HAVEN

On Town Meeting Day in New Haven, Kathleen Barrett (three-year term) and John Roleau (two-year term) were re-elected to the selectboard. Both ran unopposed.

The list of New Haven officials also elected Tuesday included Auditor Ted Foster, Delinquent Tax Collector Sylviasue Ford, Library trustees Darcy Cummings and Kristin Swartzentruber, Lister Ted Foster, Moderator Pam Marsh, Town Clerk Pamela Kingman, and Treasurer Danielle Hubbell.

On Tuesday New Haven voters approved articles 6-10 and 12-33 by Australian ballot, including:

  • $735,689 in General Fund expenses.
  • $590,000 for a school payment.
  • $1,227,693 for Road Fund spending.
  • $25,608 in smaller voted appropriations.
  • Spending up to $100,000 from the Road Equipment Fund to buy a new town truck.
  • Spending up to $40,000 from the Reserve Facilities Fund to fix up the Town Hall façade.

By far the most hotly contested item on the New Haven ballot this year was Article 11, a measure that would permit the operation of licensed cannabis retailers in town. Voters defeated the measure, 180-152.

A few Mount Abraham Unified School District items were also on the ballot Tuesday:

DAVID McKINNON AND Tony Clark stand outside Goshen Town Hall to let people know where to vote on Tuesday.
Independent photo/Steve James

In combination with the other four district towns, New Haven gave a thumbs-up to all of the MAUSD’s spending requests for next year, including a $32.6 million budget (see story).

New Haven voters also ratified Lincoln’s plan to withdraw from the MAUSD, 240-98 (see story).

One of New Haven’s two seats on the MAUSD board was up for election this year — a seat left open after board member Andrew Morton decided not to run again — but there were no candidates for the post, so the school board will appoint someone to fill it later this year.

New Haven voters also helped pass a number of spending requests from the Patricia Hannaford Career Center (see Page 1A).

A total of 346 ballots were cast on Town Meeting Day in New Haven this year, 41 fewer than last year.

***

ORWELL

You might say that Orwell’s Town Meeting Day election was a sleepy affair because all the officials running for town offices were unopposed and all of the articles on the warning passed. But there were 22 articles for Orwell residents to consider, and they did return a slate of 11 civil servants.

Orwell residents also weighed in on the Slate Valley Unified Union School District Spending plan of $26,270,047, which is about $10,000 less than the figure approved last year. Voters in the six-town district defeated the budget proposal by nine votes — Yes 852, No 861. Slate Valley Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell was scratching her head on Wednesday morning when trying to attribute the reason for the budget’s defeat. She noted that the spending plan included significant tax decreases for each of the six towns, and that the spending number was less than it was three years ago.

Back in Orwell, voters OK’d a $1,236,685 town spending plan for fiscal year 2023. That’s nearly $102,000, or 9%, more than the figure OK’d last year. The proposed budget would require an 18% increase in the amount of taxes raised.

They approved a sewer budget of $94,135, which is funded by user fees, and is 46% less than the sewer spending plan approved last year.

Orwell voters approved 14 separate social service agency requests.

In the no-new-faces category, elected on Town Meeting Day in Orwell were Michael Audet, moderator; Betty Walker, town clerk; Bryan Young, town treasurer and trustee of public funds; and Andrea Ochs, three-year term on the selectboard. Glen Cousineau was re-elected to a three-year seat on the SVUUSD school board.

One new face was Gary Murdock, who was elected for two years on the selectboard to replace outgoing Selectman Robert Barnes.

Winning five-year terms as library trustees were Emily Casey, Sarah Harris and Amy Buxton Torrey.

Winning one-year terms were Diane Jackson for delinquent tax collector and Allen Alger for first constable.

***

PANTON

Panton residents in Tuesday Australian balloting returned incumbents to office, agreed to a selectboard recommendation to abolish the position of auditor, and approved all financial requests.

Returned to office were selectboard member and current chair Howard Hall and Vergennes-Panton Water District Commissioner Chris Cook. Both incumbents ran unopposed.

Selectboard members had made the case that the town’s annual professional audit provides sufficient oversight, so residents agreed to abolish the town auditor post by an 81-19 margin.

Residents also backed:

  • The selectboard’s budget proposal of $756,151, by 114-31.
  • A series of annual capital fund requests that totaled $65,500, by 120-24.
  • Nonprofit funding asks that come up to another $11,301, by individual tallies.

Total spending will rise by about $88,000 to $832,952 following the approval of all those items.

Drivers of the higher spending include the first annual payment on Panton’s new highway sand/salt shed ($32,500), an added request on one of the capital funds ($15,500), and three new nonprofit donations (about $3,000).

But officials estimate only an increase of about 3%, or less than 2 cents, on the municipal portion of Panton’s tax rate will be needed to cover the increase.

Panton also on Tuesday joined the other four Addison Northwest School District communities in backing a proposed $22,327,585 budget for the next school year.

That budget will increase spending by 3.35% over the current level, but not increase taxes.

According to district estimates, homestead property taxes will drop in all five ANWSD communities with the budget approved on March 1. Officials said they’re confident in their estimates, but actions by state officials and/or legislators could move the numbers.

ANNINA SEILER (LEFT) raises her hand to ask a question at Goshen’s town meeting on Monday. Independent photo/Steve James

In Panton, ANWSD officials expect a decrease in the homestead rate of about 5 cents, from $1.7219 to $1.6495.

Panton residents also joined other ANWSD communities in backing the use of $1.5 million of the district’s $1.86 million audit-confirmed surplus for repairs and upgrades at Vergennes Union elementary and high schools, and another $337,763 of that surplus to help keep district taxes in check.

They also supported spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury. The project earned a combined 4,278-1,470 endorsement.

***

RIPTON

Ripton postponed its town meeting until May, but voters still weighed in on a variety of local and district-wide school referenda on March 1 — including a closely monitored race for community’s lone seat on the Addison Central School District board.

Residents of the seven ACSD-member towns — including Ripton — voted out two board incumbents in favor of their challengers. Joanna Doria defeated incumbent Amy McGlashan, 1,461-802 to represent Ripton; and Jamie McCallum defeated incumbent Mary Cullinane, 1,389-845, to represent Weybridge (see story).

Running unopposed for three three-years seats representing Middlebury on the ACSD board were James “Chip” Malcolm, Steve Orzech and Brian Bauer. All members of the ACSD board were voted at-large throughout the seven-town district.

Officials said 189 voters — 45.1% of Ripton’s checklist — turned out at the polls on Tuesday.

Ripton residents agreed, 146-42, to expand their local school board from three members to five. The current three members assert it would be useful to have two additional colleagues to help Ripton transition to its own preK-12 school system. The two additional members will be elected on the rescheduled annual town meeting of May 10.

Ripton residents on Tuesday also supported a 2022-2023 ACSD budget of $41,578,089 that passed by 1,805-630 (see story). In other school-related voting, Ripton citizens weighed in on a 2022-2023 Patricia Hannaford Career Center 2022-2023 budget of $4,104,157 that will bankroll a variety of career and technical education programs for children in 17 Addison County towns. The request passed 4,528-1,427.

They also supported — 4,278-1,470 — spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the PHCC’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury.

Looking ahead, Ripton will hold its 2022 town meeting on May 9, to be followed by Australian ballot voting on municipal elections on May 10. The hope is that pandemic conditions will have improved and school funding issues will have become clearer by then.

Meanwhile, Ripton School District directors are tentatively scheduled to hold an informational meeting at the local school (and virtually) on Wednesday, March 16, from 7-8:30 p.m., to bring folks up to date on the community’s withdrawal from the ACSD.

***

SALISBURY

Salisbury voters on March 1 approved a variety of financial requests and helped decide contested races for the Addison Central School District board.

The selectboard’s proposed fiscal year 2023 general fund budget of $331,081 passed, 173-10. The proposed highway spending plan of $505,342 was endorsed, 166-1.

A proposal to apply more than $30,000 in budget surplus to help stabilize property taxes next year eased through by a 159-26 margin.

Residents voted 102-85 in favor of a request for $16,213 to finance mosquito control — specifically the spraying of adulticide — in the Otter Creek Watershed Insect Control District (formerly known as the BLSG).

Also approved by Salisbury voters in March 1:

  • $10,500 to complete a town forest survey (148-38).
  • $89,725 in funding requests for a variety of nonprofits that deliver services to folks in need, including Salisbury residents.

There were no contested municipal elections in Salisbury. Those elected include Wayne S. Smith, town moderator, one year; Susan Scott, town clerk, one year; Patrick Dunn, selectboard, three years; and Paul Vaczy, selectboard, two years. There were no takers for a one-year term as delinquent tax collector.

BARBARA AND GLENN Andres prepare to vote by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day in Salisbury on Tuesday, March 1.
Independent photo/Steve James

In other action, Salisbury joined residents in the other six ACSD member towns in voting out two school board incumbents. Challenger Joanna Doria defeated incumbent Amy McGlashan, 1,461-802 to represent Ripton, and Jamie McCallum defeated incumbent Mary Cullinane, 1,389-845, to represent Weybridge (see story).

Running unopposed for three three-year seats representing Middlebury on the ACSD board were James “Chip” Malcolm, Steve Orzech and Brian Bauer.

Salisbury supported a 2022-23 ACSD budget of $41,578,089 that passed by a 1,805-630 tally (see related story).

In other school-related voting, Salisbury citizens weighed in on a 2022-23 Patricia Hannaford Career Center budget of $4,104,157 that will bankroll a variety of career and technical education programs for children in 17 Addison County towns. The request passed, 4,528-1,427. They also supported spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury (see related story).

***

SHOREHAM

Shoreham voters on Town Meeting Day were asked to OK the purchase of a new tractor/mower and decide contested elections for two seats on the Addison Central School District board.

Residents on Tuesday agreed, 148-81, to allow the selectboard to spend up to $110,000 in town funds on an “industrial tractor/mower.” Residents voted 212-19 in favor of moving $60,000 from Shoreham’s General Fund into its Buildings and Grounds Reserve Fund.

PARTICIPANTS AT MONDAY’S Goshen town meeting dispense with a warning item with a show of hands.
Independent photo/Steve James

Residents supported the proposed 2022-2023 highway fund request of $922,885 by a 210-21 tally. They also endorsed. 212-19, a town budget request of $374,945.

A series of 17 separate human service agency requests all garnered voter support by wide margins.

There were no contested municipal elections in Shoreham. Those running unopposed include Julie Ortuno, one year, town clerk; Kathleen Brisson, town treasurer, one year; Stephen Goodrich, selectboard, three years; Molly Francis and Eric Boire, selectboard, one-year terms; Tanya Scuteri and June Lapidow, for five years and four years, respectively, on the Shoreham Library board; Tim Steady, planning commission, four years; and Eric Leonard, water commissioner, three years.

In other action on March 1, Shoreham joined residents the six other ACSD-member towns in voting out two school board incumbents. Challenger Joanna Doria defeated incumbent Amy McGlashan, 1,461-802 to represent Ripton, and Jamie McCallum defeated incumbent Mary Cullinane, 1,389-845, to represent Weybridge (see story).

Elected to three-years seats representing Middlebury on the ACSD board were James “Chip” Malcolm, Steve Orzech and Brian Bauer.

Shoreham residents on Tuesday supported a 2022-2023 ACSD budget of $41,578,089 that passed by a 1,805-630 tally (see story). In other school-related voting, Shoreham citizens weighed in on a 2022-2023 Patricia Hannaford Career Center 2022-2023 budget of $4,104,157 that will bankroll career and technical education programs for 17 Addison County. The request passed 4,528-1,427.

They also supported spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury.

***

STARKSBORO

On Town Meeting Day in Starksboro Nancy Boss was re-elected to a three-year term on the selectboard and John Painter was re-elected to a two-year term.

On Tuesday in Starksboro the following officials were also elected:

  • Moderator: Keegan Tierney.
  • Auditor: Robert Turner.
  • Delinquent Tax Collector: Amy McCormick.
  • Planning Commission: Brad Boss, Jeffrey Keeney and David Schmidt.
  • Library Trustees: Katie Antos-Ketcham and Jake Mendell.

GOSHEN TOWN TREASURER Vickee Whiting addresses her fellow town meeting attendees at Monday’s gathering. Whiting decided to not run for re-election after more than 12 years of service.
Independent photo/Steve James

All of the warned articles in Starksboro were voted by Australian ballot this year, and all of them passed. Voters approved:

  • $1,068,546 in General Fund spending.
  • $52,268 for the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund.
  • $106,216 for the Road Equipment Reserve Fund.
  • $40,000 for the Paving Reserve Fund.
  • $39,478 for the Starksboro Public Library.
  • $12,000 for Starksboro First Response.
  • $800 for Addison County Restorative Justice Services.
  • $1,200 for the Four Winds Program at Robinson Elementary School.
  • $37,000 for various in-town requests.
  • $34,536 for various out-of-town requests.

A few Mount Abraham Unified School District items were also on the ballot Tuesday:

In combination with the other four district towns, Starksboro gave a thumbs-up to all of the MAUSD’s spending requests for next year, including a $32.6 million budget (see story).

Starksboro voters also ratified Lincoln’s plan to withdraw from the MAUSD, 286-54 (see story).

Brad Johnson, who ran unopposed, was elected to keep his seat on the MAUSD board and finish the final year of the three-year term he was appointed to in 2021.

Starksboro voters also helped pass a number of spending requests from the Patricia Hannaford Career Center (see story).

A total of 351 Town Meeting Day ballots were cast this year in Starksboro, 67 more than last year.

***

VERGENNES

The major question facing Vergennes voters on Tuesday was whether to support a $25.5 million bond proposal for an upgrade of the city’s sewer and stormwater collection and treatment system, a project city officials believe will be 50% supported by grant funding.

Voters backed that proposal overwhelmingly, 384-60, or by about 87-13% (see related story).

Three candidates ran unopposed for three city council seats that came open on March 1: incumbents Dickie Austin, the current deputy mayor, and Jill Murray-Killon, plus newcomer Zoe Kaslow. All will assume their seats at the next council meeting.

Incumbent Vergennes-Panton Water District Commissioner Chris Bearor won election without opposition, as did Bruce McIntire for a remaining year from the term of a resigned board director.

The city’s three incumbents on the Addison Northwest School District board also won election without opposition: John Stroup and Keith Morrill each earned another three years, while Mary Sullivan, appointed in 2021 to replace a resigned director, won the final year of that term.

Residents also backed, by 452-34, the swap of small pieces of land near Vergennes Union Elementary school with the Addison Northwest School District, an exchange that makes possible the construction of a proposed covered recreation pavilion.

A number of nonprofit funding requests were also on the ballot, all of which won voter approval, but the Vergennes City Council will set the city budget in June.

Vergennes on Tuesday joined the other four ANWSD communities in backing a $22,327,585 budget for the next school year.

That plan will increase spending by 3.35% over the current level, but not increase taxes.

According to district estimates, homestead property taxes will drop in all five ANWSD communities as a result of the approved budget. Officials said they’re confident in their estimates, but actions by state officials and/or legislators could move the numbers.

In Vergennes, ANWSD officials expect a decrease in the homestead rate of almost 5 cents, from $1.8220 to $1.8052.

GOSHEN TOWN CLERK Rosemary McKinnon reviews state election regulations for voters on Tuesday morning. McKinnon won
re-election to her post.
Independent photo/Steve James

Vergennes residents also joined other ANWSD communities in backing the use of $1.5 million of the district’s $1.86 million audit-confirmed surplus for repairs and upgrades at Vergennes Union elementary and high schools, and another $337,763 of that surplus to help keep district taxes in check.

In other March 1 voting, city residents supported spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury. The project earned a combined 4,278-1,470 endorsement.

***

WALTHAM

In Australian balloting on Tuesday Waltham residents approved all articles on the Town Meeting Day warning and elected two unopposed candidates to major positions: Brent Newton to the selectboard and Mary Clark to Waltham’s lone seat on the Addison Northwest School District board.

Town officials did not supply vote totals to the Independent for any results.

Residents backed a $23,971, or 13%, increase in town spending, not including capital funds or nonprofit requests, to $260,107.

A proposed increase of about $18,000 in road spending was the major driver of that budget hike.

At the same time, Waltham residents also approved a selectboard proposal to use up to $20,000 of a fund balance from prior fiscal years to offset the tax impact of that higher spending.

Town officials had said if residents backed spending measures and the proposed use of the fund balance that the effect on the municipal portion of Waltham’s tax rate will be almost nil.

Also supported were a Bixby Library request for funding that was equal to 2021’s ($10,692), and other nonprofit requests that totaled $3,729, an amount that was a little lower than in 2021.

Voters also backed the selectboard’s requests for a series for capital funds ($23,100) that equaled those of a year ago.

Waltham also on Tuesday joined the other four Addison Northwest School District communities in supporting the ANWSD’s proposed $22,327,585 budget for the next school year.

That plan will increase spending by 3.35% over the current level, but not increase taxes.

According to the district estimates homestead property taxes would drop in all five ANWSD communities if voters supported that budget on March 1. Officials said actions by state officials and/or legislators could move the numbers.

In Waltham, ANWSD officials expect a decrease in the homestead rate of about 5 cents, from $1.7257 per $100 of assessed value to $1.6731.

Waltham residents also joined other ANWSD communities in backing the use of $1.5 million of the district’s $1.86 million audit-confirmed surplus for repairs and upgrades at Vergennes Union elementary and high schools, and another $337,763 of that surplus to help keep district taxes in check.

***

WEYBRIDGE

Weybridge residents on March 1 voted 131-118 in favor of opening its its doors to potential cannabis retail sales in the future, and helped decide a contested election for the community’s lone seat on the Addison Central School District board.

A PARTICIPANT AT Monday’s town meeting in Goshen refers to the town report while following the action.
Independent photo/Steve James

Residents in the ACSD-member towns of Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge voted out two board incumbents in favor of their challengers. They endorsed Jamie McCallum over incumbent (and ACSD board Chair) Mary Cullinane, 1,389-845, to serve three years as the Weybridge representative on the board, which oversees preK-12 education for children in the seven member towns. They also picked Joanna Doria over incumbent Amy McGlashan, 1,461-802, to represent Ripton on the 13-member panel. (See related story).

Running unopposed for three three-years seats representing Middlebury on the ACSD board were James “Chip” Malcolm, Steve Orzech and Brian Bauer.

Like Bristol, Weybridge had an “opt-in” vote in the issue of cannabis retail sales, which will soon become legal in Vermont.

The contested race for Weybridge’s ACSD board seat featured incumbent (and ACSD board Chair) Mary Cullinane, who was challenged by resident Jamie McCallum.

Weybridge’s proposed fiscal year 2023 highway budget of $524,700, and its general fund budget of $174,800, both passed by substantial margins.

Residents also supported:

  • Contributing $25,000 to support the local fire department during FY’23.
  • Allocating $10,000 to support the municipal recycling programs.
  • A proposal to replenish the Weybridge Conservation Fund through revenues generated by a penny on the local tax rate during each of the next four years. This measure passed, 243-27.
  • A variety of Addison County nonprofits in amounts ranging from $94 for the Otter Creek Natural Resource Conservation District, to $2,600 for Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects.

There were no contested municipal elections in Weybridge this year. Those running unopposed include Spencer Putnam, town moderator, one year; Kelly Flynn, selectboard, two years; and Megan Sutton, selectboard, three years.

In other action on March 1, Weybridge residents supported a 2022-2023 ACSD budget of $41,578,089 that passed by a 1,805-630 tally (see related story). The ACSD delivers prek-12 public education to children in in Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge.

And in other school-related voting, Weybridge citizens weighed in on a 2022-2023 Patricia Hannaford Career Center (PHCC) 2022-2023 budget of $4,104,157 that will bankroll a variety of career and technical education programs for children in the 17 Addison County towns that feed the PHCC. The request passed by a 4,528-1,427 tally.

They also supported spending $8.1 million to finance significant renovations to the PHCC’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury (see related story). The project earned a combined 4,278-1,470 endorsement from residents of the 17 member communities.

***

WHITING

It was something like an old Town Meeting Day in Whiting this week as residents held an in-person meeting on the first Tuesday in March, after postponing their annual town meeting until May last year because of the pandemic.

But the annual town meeting was held in a new venue — the firehouse, because the town hall needs repairs. Plus, everything passed as warned.

Whiting voters OK’d proposed town spending of $411,218 (with $291,088 coming from taxes).

On the election front, five incumbents won re-election. They were: Marcia King, selectboard, three years; Peg Allen, lister, three years; Alison Remy, auditor, three years; Rani Fallon, collector of delinquent taxes, one year; Heather Mattison, library trustee, three years; and Rusty Brigham, first constable, one year.

Those at town meeting assented to giving the collector of delinquent taxes the power to collect delinquent taxes, and set the due date for property taxes — in hand, not postmarked — as Dec. 1.

There was no vote on the last topic, but participants discussed the repairs needed to the library and, of course, town hall.

Whiting voters on Tuesday also took part in voting on the proposed Otter Valley Unified Union School District spending plan of $22,710,955. The six-town district rejected the school spending plan, 522-462. The district’s proposed budget presented a 7.8% jump in spending but taxes were not expected to rise nearly as much. The defeat comes as a surprise only because very little public comment against the budget had been noticeable ahead of the Town Meeting Day vote.

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