The second Town Meeting to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic is next week, but in reality, most towns and voters have already begun the process. This week Warren, Moretown, Duxbury and Fayston held pre-Town Meetings remotely, answering voter questions about budgets, warned articles and more. (See individual town stories inside.)
Waitsfield’s pre-Town Meeting takes place February 28, also remotely. Access information on the town website. Duxbury attempted to publish its Town Meeting warning in the Times Argus in accordance with state statute, which states “the warning shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality at least five days before the meeting, unless the warning is published in the town report and the town report is mailed or otherwise distributed to the voters at least 10 days before the meeting.” The Times Argus failed to publish the warning. Town clerk Maureen Harvey said that the town report was circulated in time.
The annual meeting of the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) also takes place on February 28. See www.huusd.org for log-in information. There are seven open seats on the district board and voters will be choosing candidates who have filed to run for seats as well as those who are running as write-in candidates. District voters will be asked to pass a $42.6 million budget as well as allocate $1.5 million in surplus funds to a maintenance reserve fund.
Voters in the school district will also be asked to weigh-in on the Central Vermont Career Center in Barre and form a stand-alone district for the voc/ed facility that serves 18 Central Vermont towns. Voters will be asked to elect several at-large members for the board. Jim Halavonich, Fayston, is running to represent HUUSD on this board.
Voters throughout The Valley have already begun casting ballots, both by mail and by dropping off their ballots at local town offices. The town of Warren mailed its town ballots to all of its voters on February 22 and Moretown mailed all residents the town ballots but not the school district ballots. Residents of Moretown and Warren will not receive school ballots by mail and must request them or pick them up and cast them on March 1.
In addition to mail-in ballots Moretown and Duxbury are offering drive-thru ballot drop off on March 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters in Warren, Fayston and Waitsfield can show up from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to cast ballots in person at their polling places (masked and socially distanced).
Voters in Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston are being asked to add $10,000 to the regular appropriation of $30,000 that each town provides for the Mad River Valley Recreation District. Waitsfield voters are being asked by the town’s conservation commission to authorize $10,000 for the Restroom/Recreation and Conservation fund as well as another $10,000 to establish a reserve fund for invasive species management.
After Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, Waitsfield voters approved abating the town property taxes for the Masonic Lodge in Waitsfield Village for 10 years. A request to abate local property taxes for another five years is up for approval this year.
Waitsfield voters will be electing two members to its select board. Board members Chach Curtis is seeking re-election to a two-year term on the board and board member Jordan Gonda is seeking re-election to a three-year term on the board. Jennifer Stella is challenging Gonda for the three-year seat.
Fayston voters will elect all town officials via ballot this year rather than from the floor of Town Meeting which has been the town’s historical practice. Fayston voters have a warned article asking for $5,000 for stewardMRV, a new program initiated last year by the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce and other organizations working to steward recreational accesses throughout The Valley, providing waste receptacles, recycling bins, restrooms and dog waste bags. Other local towns have similar warned articles and some towns have included this request in the budget.
Warren voters will elect four select board members. Incumbents Bob Ackland, Camilla Behn, Andy Cunningham and Devin Klein Corrigan are running for reelection. Warren write-in candidates Ellen Kucera and Ashley Woods are running for Jonathan Clough’s seat on the HUUSD Board. Warren has warned articles to provide Green Mountain National Forest funds to the Warren PTO and for the select board to be able to accept or purchase land in the town.
Moretown voters will elect three select board members. Select board members Tom Martin, Don Wexler and John Hoogenboom are seeking reelection. Moretown has warned articles on whether to allocate $30,000 for the purchase of a new tractor and whether to set aside $10,000 for the repair and upkeep of the town’s bridges and culverts.
Duxbury voters will elect five select board members. Incumbents Craig Gibbs, Mari Pratt and Mike Marotto, along with Jamison Ervin, are running for one-year terms and Dick Charland is running for a three-year term. Duxbury has warned articles on whether to approve the purchase of a tandem truck not to exceed $145,000 and whether to authorize the select board to pursue a solar power installation in the former gravel pit land.