Created on Thursday, 01 March 2007 05:59
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2007 05:59
The annual event takes place on March 6 at town halls and elementary schools throughout The Valley. Elected state officials will address their constituents and the much anticipated Town Meeting luncheons will be sold-out events.
Most towns will conduct town business in the morning and school district business in the afternoon. Individual town round-ups follow below.
Waitsfield voters will gather at the town elementary school for Town Meeting and for voting by Australian ballot this year. Town meeting gets underway at 10 a.m. and the polls open for voting at 7 a.m.
Voters will cast ballots by Australian ballot for two select board members, Roy Hadden and Charlie Hosford who are up for re-election and who are running unopposed. Voters will be asked to extend the term of town clerk and treasurer from a one-year to a three-year term.
Waitsfield voters will be asked to earmark town reserve funds for several items. The select board is asking for $30,000 for a town truck reserve and $15,000 for a town equipment reserve. The fire department is asking for $15,000 for a fire truck reserve and the Joslin Library is looking for $2,500 in reserve funds for repairs. The select board is seeking $2,500 for its restroom, recreation and conservation reserve as well as $15,000 for its Route 100 transportation path reserve. Finally, the board is seeking $5,000 for its street trees reserve fund.
Waitsfield's 2007 proposed budget is $1,236,706, down slightly from last year's actual budget of $1,244,430 but up from last year's budgeted total of $1,179,916. With revenues and other income, the town's net operating expenses next year will be $1,044,144. That sum includes $52,384 in community maintenance of the elementary school building, $32,680 for law enforcement expenses, and $34,294 for fire department expenses.
Waitsfield's employee benefit costs for 2007 will be $88,421, down from last year's actual of $93,511 and down from the budgeted amount of $103,079. Waitsfield is switching to Health Savings Accounts for its employees rather than traditional medical insurance.
Road department expenses, after state aid is factored in, are down. This year's request is $394,505, down from last year's request of $416, 014 and actual of $398,049.
This year, Waitsfield has $28,800 budgeted for special planning projects. The town is pursuing the state TIF (tax increment finance) designation for Irasville as well as designated growth center status for that area. The town is budgeting $6,000 for a professional note taker next year and anticipates $17,100 in zoning fees. The town has also budgeted $1,000 for its website and has budgeted $44,844 for a municipal project manager for the water and sewage project.
The town's school budget, the local education spending portion of it, is $4,130,130. With 277.38 equalized pupils, Waitsfield education spending is at $11,285 for the coming year, which is up 5.8 percent from last year. Because of the formula used by the state to calculate local rates for the statewide property tax, the increase in the bottom line budget does not translate directly into a tax rate increase, according to school principal Richard Schattman who explained the budget to the select board last month.
At Town Meeting, Waitsfield voters will deal with town matters in the morning and school matters in the afternoon.
By Erin Post
In addition to voting on town and school budgets at Town Meeting, Warren voters will weigh in on a proposal to move the library to the town hall and decide whether the president and vice president of the United States deserve to be impeached.
Town Meeting 2007 begins at 9 a.m. at the Warren Elementary School.
SELECT BOARD/LISTER'S SEAT UP FOR GRABS
Two candidates are running unopposed for two seats on the select board: Erin Russell-Story seeks a three-year term, while Kirstin Reilly is running for an open two-year term.
In the race for the lister's position, challenger Steve Butcher, formerly a select board member, seeks to unseat incumbent Priscilla Robinson.
At a candidates' forum in early February, the candidates laid out their agendas and took questions from town residents.
Butcher said he wanted to make sure the lister's office remained open and accessible to the public and stressed the need to take advantage of resources available from the state and other organizations.
Robinson highlighted her long tenure as the town's lister and cited experience as an important factor voters should consider when casting their ballots.
VOTERS TO DECIDE ON LIBRARY MOVE
The fate of the Warren Public Library is also to be decided at Town Meeting. A proposal to move the library from its present location in the municipal building to the main floor of the town hall comes to voters after a series of informational meetings and an open house at the library in early February.
The article specifies that "no library-specific irreversible changes" are to be made to the existing town hall as a result of the move.
A separate article asks voters to approve the renovation of the town hall at a cost not to exceed $200,000.
Architectural plans call for improvements to make the building handicapped accessible, including an entrance ramp, an elevator and accessible bathrooms. Other projects include the installation of moveable stacks for the library and some structural repairs such as new windows.
Other articles ask voters to decide whether the town should create a municipal conservation commission to replace the existing conservation committee, and whether impeachment is warranted for the president and vice president of the United States.
Warren joins in with dozens of other towns across Vermont in asking voters to consider presidential impeachment. The resolution states that President Bush and Vice President Cheney "deliberately misled the nation and the threat from Iraq in order to justify war" as well as "condoned the torture of prisoners" and "approved illegal electronic surveillance" of U.S. citizens, before it goes on to call for impeachment.
TOWN AND SCHOOL BUDGETS DECIDED ON TUESDAY
The proposed town budget of $1.75 million represents an increase of about 26 percent over the current spending plan.
Voters are faced with a school budget of about $2.8 million to fund both the Warren School and the town's share of the Harwood Union spending plan. This total represents a 1.8 percent decrease in spending for kindergarten through grade 12 education.
A four-way race for two select board seats will come to an end Tuesday when Moretown voters cast their ballots at Town Meeting.
Incumbents Paula Mastroberardino and Don Wexler face challenges from Ray Munn and Carl Wimble. Both select board positions carry one-year terms of office.
Rae Washburn is running unopposed for a three-year term on the select board. He seeks to replace Doug Jones Jr., who is not seeking re-election.
Candidates are slated to address the public during pre-Town Meeting on Monday, March 5, at 7 p.m. at Moretown Elementary School. Presentations from the select board and the school board are also on tap.
Town Meeting is slated to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, at the Moretown Town Hall.
FOUR RESIDENTS VIE FOR TWO SELECT BOARD SEATS
Incumbent Paula Mastroberardino has been a member of the select board since 2000 and is seeking a fourth term in office. She has also served on the planning commission and development review board in Moretown, and was zoning administrator from 1995 to 2000.
Mastroberardino, employed as the production/accounting manager at American Flatbread, said via e-mail that she is running again because she would like to see projects that the board is currently working on brought to completion, a list that includes "finding a location for the town garage, overseeing the audit for 2006, and finalizing the deal with MLI for deeryard mitigation."
She cited her "open mindedness" as well as "sense of fairness" and an "ability to identify the core of an issue" as qualities that serve her well on the select board.
"I believe residents should vote for me because of my experience and my depth of commitment to the town," she said. "I've been working in town government for over 10 years; I know the issues and the process."
Challenger Ray Munn said he too would bring a wealth of experience to the board. He has served as constable for Moretown, Fayston and Waitsfield, and as assistant fire chief in Moretown. For five to six years, he was a member of the Fayston Planning Commission.
In April, Munn plans to retire from F.G. White Company in Waitsfield.
Munn said the proposal to place town land into a conservation easement as part of a larger deal the town has pending with Moretown Landfill Inc. has him concerned. He said he would like to see other options for the property such as using some of the land for a new town clerk's office or town garage explored before the town gives up development rights.
He also cited protection of property rights as an important issue, and said he advocates measures to safeguard property owners, or compensate them when necessary, in the face of restrictions such as scenic designations or stringent zoning regulations.
As a lifelong Valley resident, Munn said he would bring a different perspective to the board.
"I think it's time for a change," he said. "I'd like to see all four corners of Moretown be pulled together so that everybody gets equal representation."
Challenger Carl Wimble also cited his long tenure in Moretown--more than 40 years--as a potential asset for the select board.
"I think there's a lack of diversity on the current select board," he said, noting that he's spoken to town residents who feel their views are not being represented.
Affordability is an important issue for the town, Wimble said, adding that he would want to make sure the select board does what it can to control taxes and ensure that zoning regulations and other restrictions do not drive up the cost of living in Moretown.
Wimble, who is self-employed, said his fair-mindedness and ability to "appreciate a diversity of opinions" should serve him well on the select board. As an elected official, Wimble said he feels it is important to listen to everyone and then work towards a consensus.
That's part of the job," he said, "to listen to what everyone has to say."
Incumbent Don Wexler could not be reached for comment this week.
VOTERS TO CONSIDER TOWN AND SCHOOL BUDGETS
The $853,688 town budget represents a $109,620 spending increase from last year. Town officials have said that road repairs contribute to the spending jump.
The Moretown Elementary School budget totals about $2.09 million, a 4.2 percent increase. If voters approve a special article of $55,000 to establish a capital improvement and maintenance fund the budget would total $2.14 million, a 6.9 percent increase.
Voters will also weigh in on a list of articles including a proposal to allow the town to purchase a loader for the highway department for a sum not to exceed $95,800. The select board is also asking voters to consider allocating all 2007 revenues from Moretown Landfill Inc. to reduce the amount to be raised in taxes.
Fayston voters will be asked whether the town should join Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown in contracting for law enforcement services from the Washington County Sheriff's department at this year's Town Meeting.
Fasyton voters will gather at the Fayston Elementary School at 10 a.m. for Town Meeting this year.
Warren and Waitsfield have long contracted with the sheriff's department and Moretown joined the group two years ago. The sheriff's department provides traffic safety patrol in area towns.
Fayston voters will also be asked to okay the ongoing expenditure of town funds for the restoration and preservation of town records. Voters will also be asked to okay the shift from a zoning board of adjustment and planning commission review process to a development review board and planning commission.
One of Fayston's three select board members, Jared Cadwell, is up for re-election this year to a three-year term. Two school directors, Susan Daley and Jean Wry, chair, are up for re-election this year. Lister Tony Egan is up for re-election as are town clerk/tax collector Virginia Vasseur and town treasurer Patti Lewis.
Fayston's proposed municipal expenditures this year total $846,000, up from last year's budgeted expenditures of $823,350 and actual expenditures of $794,745. In 2006 the town collected a total of $773,817 in fees, taxes, state funding and other income.
Last year the town's legal expenses came in at $20,832 and this year's budget has anticipated $20,000 for legal expenses. The town's cost for employee benefits has risen from $75,145 in 2006 to a projected $88,500 for this year.
The town's cost for fire protection with the Waitsfield/Fayston volunteer fire department is up from $19,450 in 2006 to $22,900 for 2007. Highway equipment costs will rise from $54,239 in 2006 to $60,500 in 2007, with highway salaries increasing from $117,711 to $125,000. Highway supplies will increase from $29,637 to $38,000.
Planning costs in Fayston, budgeted at $51,000 last year and coming in at $46,463 in 2006, are proposed at $54,000 for 2007.
Fayston's school budget totals $2,324,807 and with 192.5 'equalized students' that means the town's per pupil cost is $12,077. The budget is up one percent from last year's budget of $2,301,410.