Town Meeting 2016 is next week and voters throughout The Valley, as well as select board members and town moderators, are gearing up for the annual day of decision making and discussion of budgets and priorities.
From Warren to Duxbury, Valley voters will attend Town Meeting on March 1 with pre-Town Meetings held on February 29.
New for the first time this year, Waitsfield voters will hold Town Meeting in the evening with the municipal meeting starting at 5 p.m. and the school district meeting starting at 4 p.m.
Voters throughout the district will be asked to pass their portion of Harwood Union’s proposed budget of $14,219,230 which yields per-annualized pupil spending of $17,064, up 2.1 percent from last year.
Some Valley towns elect their officials from the floor of Town Meeting, after accepting nominations, while others have would-be elected officials submit petitions signed by 5 percent of registered voters to be added to the Australian ballot at Town Meeting. Fayston and Duxbury elect board members from the floor while Moretown, Warren and Waitsfield elect them via Australian ballot.
Here are the specifics for each town. (See budget stories for Waitsfield, Fayston and Duxbury inside this week’s issue.) Valley voters will also be casting ballots in the 2016 presidential primaries with polling taking place throughout The Valley from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Waitsfield’s Town Meeting takes place at Waitsfield Elementary School at the times listed above. Child care will be available from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for voting by Australian ballot. Waitsfield voters will elect two of five candidates to two positions on the select board by Australian ballot vote next week. Board member Logan Cooke is running for re-election to a two-year term. Anne Bordonaro and Jerome Keating are both running for that same two-year term. Darryl Forrest and Brian Voigt are running for a three-year term that is currently held by Scott Kingsbury who is not running for re-election.
Jeremy Gully is running for a two-year term on the Waitsfield School Board, a position that had been held by Ben Lovelace. Eve Frankel is running for re-election to a three-year seat on the board. Laura Caffry is running for one of Waitsfield’s seats on the Harwood Union School Board, a three-year seat that has been held by Stephen Sands. Sands is not running for re-election.
Waitsfield voters will be asked to approve a budget that is up 16 percent at Town Meeting next month. That’s according to the town’s fiscal year 2017 budget (FY17) summary. Waitsfield’s current fiscal year runs from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. The budget that will come before voters at Town Meeting on March 1 is the FY17 budget.
The town’s total expenses in FY17 are projected at $2,012,346. The total expenses in FY16 were budgeted at $2,781,938. Factoring in revenues yields net total expenses in FY16 of $1,368,966, and FY17 of 1,470,909.
Fayston voters will gather at Fayston Elementary School for Town Meeting. The meeting opens at 9:30 a.m. Town residents will break for a shared potluck lunch midway through the meeting.
Fayston elects its public officers from the floor of Town Meeting. This year, longtime select board member Bob Vasseur will not be accepting a nomination for another three-year term on the board. He is 83 and has been on the select board for 57 years. Fayston resident Chuck Martel has declared his interest in pursuing that seat. Susan Daley’s three-year seat as the town’s representative to the Harwood Union School Board expires.
This year’s 2016 town budget is up 3.7 percent from the 2015 budget. The proposed budget comes in at $1,159,367, up from last year’s actual budget of $1,041,398. The approved budget for 2015 was $1,117,498. Fayston went into this budget year with a $174,890 fund balance, which will offset this year’s bottom line.
Much of the budget that the select board crafted is flatlined with a few exceptions. The town’s contribution to the Mad River Valley Solid Waste Alliance is increasing from $5,412 to $8,118. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Warren voters will meet at Warren Elementary School with the school district meeting beginning at 8 a.m. and Town Meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Lunch will be served at the school.
Select board members Bob Ackland and Andy Cunningham are running for re-election, Ackland for a two-year term and Cunningham for a three-year term.
With Warren School Board member Rob Rosen not running for re-election and school board chair Michael Ketchel stepping down one year into a two-year term, there are two new community members running for those seats. Jennifer Watkins is running for Rosen’s two-year term and Marie Schmukal is running for the final year of Ketchel’s term. Alycia Biondo is running for a three-year term to which she was appointed this summer, taking the place of Laurie Greenberg who stepped off the board to accept a teaching job at Warren Elementary School.
Warren voters will be asked to approve an article asking, “Shall the town of Warren maintain the historic timber crib dam on the Mad River? Shall the town of Warren set aside $3,000 per year to fund the maintenance of the dam?”
Residents of Warren and beyond have strong feelings about whether the dam should be removed or maintained. The state of Vermont will not permit the dam to be rebuilt.
Warren voters will be presented with a budget for the coming year of $3,543,383 which is a 12.67 percent increase over last year’s budget. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Moretown voters will gather at the Moretown Town Hall for Town Meeting, starting at 9 a.m. Lunch will be served by the Moretown Historical Society. Moretown will hold a pre-Town Meeting on February 29 at Moretown Elementary School to discuss the Australian ballot articles. That meeting starts at 7 p.m. and voters will be discussing Articles 6 and 8. Article 6 is the school budget of $2,470,904. Article 8 is to approve town budget expenses of $1,072,662.
In Moretown, Tom Martin is running for re-election to a one-year term on the select board as is Michelle Beard. Beard previously held a three-year term and Jason Aronowitz is running to fill the final two years of that term. John Hoogenboom is running for re-election to a three-year term on the board.
Tom Badowski is not running for re-election to a three-year term on the Moretown School Board. Gabriel Gilman, who had held a one-year term, is running for Badowski’s three-year term and Ron Shems is running for re-election to a one-year term. There is no one running for another one-year term. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Duxbury voters will gather at Crossett Brook Middle School at 9 a.m. for Town Meeting.
In Duxbury there are three one-year seats on the select board that expire. The select board plans to change the structure of its board positions at Town Meeting on March 1, so that those particular seats are one-, two- and three-year seats. The one-year seats held by Betty Gibbs, Maureen Harvey and John Murphy expire in March.
The Duxbury Select Board has proposed cutting the salary of the town clerk for the third year in a row. Each previous year voters restored the town clerk salary by a vote from the floor. This year the proposal is to reduce the salary for the town clerk from $36,000 to $24,000 and reduce the salary of the assistant town clerk from $9,588 to $5,000. Concurrently, the salary for the town treasurer will see a proposed increase from $16,728 last year to $26,000 this year.
Duxbury’s Town Meeting warning includes an article asking voters to change how the town clerk (and other elected officials) pays for his benefits.
“Shall the voters of the town of Duxbury require elected officials participating in any town benefit plan to provide the same percentage of financial contribution as town employees are required as established by the select board?”
Other articles include a request to approve $43,000 to purchase 4,330 yards of gravel to resurface about 3 miles of sections of five town roads. With Waterbury, Duxbury voters will vote on four articles to fund the Waterbury-Duxbury school district which includes Crossett Brook Middle School, Thatcher Brook Primary School and Harwood Union High School. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.