By Lisa Loomis
Duxbury's Town Meeting warning includes commentary from the select board about an article calling for select board meetings to be recorded and those records made available for public review.
Article 9 came to the board via petition and the board went to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) to see if it should be included in this year's Town Meeting warning. Then the board took the step of appending parts of the VLCT response to the warning, a move that is in violation of Vermont Elections law.
Vermont Statute 17 VSA 2666 reads:
"§ 2666. Improper influence
"Neither the warning, the notice, the official voter information cards, nor the ballot itself shall include any opinion or comment by any town body or officer or other person on any matter to be voted on."
The VLCT opinion appended to the warning notes that recording select board meetings is not required by state statute and also goes into detail about how and when a select board can decide to include or not include something voters call for via petition.
Also unique to the warning this year in Duxbury, taxpayers will vote on two articles that were submitted via petition that ask whether or not the town should set the term of office for town clerk and town treasurer to be one year, effective March 3, 2015. Some have questioned whether that article can properly be made effective this March since the town clerk's current term runs through 2016.
Duxbury is transitioning from a calendar year budget to a July 1 to June 30 budget so this year taxpayers will vote from the floor on a 2015 six-month budget and a 2015-2016 July to June budget. The budget for the first six months of 2015 comes in at $362,084 and the July 2015 to June 2016 budget comes in at $959,825.
Duxbury's budget for 2014 was $787,679. The proposed budget includes wage increases for all employees, except the town clerk, Ken Scott, who is slated to see his salary reduced by over 30 percent. The select board proposed a similar wage cut last year, but voters restored Scott's salary at Town Meeting.
Taxpayers will be asked to approve an expenditure not to exceed $50,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund to be used for road construction projects, which include the rebuilding for the beginning of South Crossett Road from the pavement at Route 100 for a distance of 0.1 mile, replacement of several culverts under pavement and the resurfacing of 1.25 miles of River Road.
In addition, at Town Meeting this year Duxbury voters will be asked to authorize the select board to pursue the acquisition of two parcels of land currently owned by the state located at the end of Hart Road. The parcels are a 32-acre piece of property formerly known as the Father Logue Camp and a 137-acre parcel formerly part of the Vermont State Hospital. The parcels would be designated as the Duxbury Town Forest and the town would not compensate the state for the value of either property.