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  • 23 Oct 2014

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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Voter turnout is low for primary election but not Waitsfield sidewalk vote

By Lisa Loomis and Rachel Goff

Voter turnout for Vermont's primary election was low this week, but Waitsfield voters packed the elementary school for a lively discussion and a vote from the floor on whether to authorize the town to borrow up to $65,000 for sidewalk projects.

By a voice vote, Waitsfield voters did approve the article. The town needs $37,666 to pay for cost overruns related to the original engineering for the east sidewalk project. That project actually ran $140,000 over budget and the town covered those overages by using up funds in its sidewalk reserve account and later the general fund.

The town is also committed to several other sidewalk projects on the west side of Route 100. Those include moving the utilities underground at the intersection of Main Street and Old County Road and re-aligning that intersection so that a crosswalk can be added. That project is 100 percent grant funded except for moving the utilities which was estimated at $13,800 although the bids were just received and it will cost less than that. There are two separate west sidewalk projects -- one from the newly aligned intersection to Valley Players Theater which is 100 percent grant funded and the other from Valley Players Theater to Bridge Street which is 90 percent funded.

The balance of the funds the town was seeking is for the 10 percent match on Valley Players Theater to Bridge Street sidewalk.

Discussion was lively with voters raising multiple questions about the $140,000 in east sidewalk project cost overruns and who was culpable. The select board explained that the original engineering was faulty and while VTrans reviewed and approved the plans from that engineering, it was faulty and went out to bid that way. That resulted in trees and utility poles being in the middle of the proposed sidewalk which led to re-engineering the project and a solution and additional construction costs.

Voters want to know if the town was going to pursue reimbursement from the first engineers for those cost overruns and board members said they would if they were unsuccessful in obtaining reimbursement from grant sources.

"I fully expect to apply for grant funding to recover the $140,000 for this project. If I'm successful those grant funds will pay off this $65,000 loan and replenish our sidewalk reserve fund and replenish the general fund that subsidized the project," town administrator Valerie Capels said.

"I understand we have to retire the debt but I have concerns about the three projects on the west side. I don't recall voting on that," said Myndy Woodruff.

Mary Jane Potter spoke in favor of the article, noting that when her kids, who were born in 1975 and 1978, were at Waitsfield Elementary School, she was told there would be a sidewalk for them.

"Now, I have two grandchildren and I hope everybody passes this article," she said.

Vince Gauthier made a motion to split the article into two separate votes, one for the $37,666 associated with the east sidewalk and the other for $27,334 for the other projects. Brian Shupe, the moderator, allowed the motion.

That motion to decouple was defeated by a show of hands and voters went on to approve the motion authorizing the town to borrow up to $65,000 over five years to pay for the east sidewalk debt and the west sidewalk projects.

The special meeting took place as a few voters were coming in to vote in the primary election. Of the 1,422 people registered to vote in Waitsfield, 185 of them cast ballots. In the Democratic race for governor, H. Brooke Paige got 12 votes and Peter Shumlin got 88. In the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, Dean Corren got 11 votes. In the Republican race for governor, Steve Berry got four votes, Scott Milne got 52 and Emily Peyton got 4. In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Phil Scott got 65 votes.

Of the 1,069 people registered to vote in Fayston, 46 of them cast ballots. In the Democratic race for governor, H. Brooke Paige got 2 votes and Peter Shumlin got 18. In the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, Dean Corren got four votes. In the Republican race for governor, Steve Berry got one vote, Scott Milne got 12 and Emily Peyton got two. In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Phil Scott got 42 votes.

Of the 1,038 people registered to vote in Warren, 71 of them cast ballots. In the Democratic race for governor, H. Brooke Paige got 9 votes and Peter Shumlin got 31. In the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, Dean Corren got 13 votes. In the Republican race for governor, Steve Berry got one vote, Scott Milne got 23 and Emily Peyton got two. In the Republican race for governor, Phil Scott got 28 votes.

Of the 1,448 people registered to vote in Moretown, 74 of them cast ballots. In the Democratic race for governor, H. Brooke Paige got 2 votes and Peter Shumlin got 20. In the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, results were unavailable as The Valley Reporter went to press. In the Republican race for governor, Steve Berry got 3 votes and Scott Milne got 27. In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Phil Scott got 42 votes.

Of the 1,055 people registered to vote in Duxbury, 69 of them cast ballots. In the Democratic race for governor, H. Brooke Paige got 6 votes and Peter Shumlin got 13. No one cast any ballots for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary. In the Republican race for governor, Steve Berry got 2 votes, Scott Milne got 29 and Emily Peyton got 4. In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Phil Scott got 42 votes.

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