Created on Friday, 09 March 2007 02:36
Last Updated on Friday, 09 March 2007 03:19
Voters from Warren to Moretown assembled this week to attend Town
Meeting, approve or tinker with town and school budgets, elect officers
and partake of the annual Town Meeting lunch.
Throughout The Valley, school budgets passed, as did the Harwood
Union School budget. Two towns voted in a non-binding resolution to
call for impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney. One town
expanded its conservation commission, another created one, and a third
converted its group from a committee to a commission.
Individual results from local towns follow.
Fayston voters reject law enforcement proposal
By Ann B. Day
Fayston voters spent an hour debating the merits of whether or not the
town should join other Valley towns in contracting with the Washington
County Sheriff's Department for traffic enforcement before moderator
David Jones called for a voice vote, then a stand up/sit down vote and
finally a paper ballot vote during which the proposal was defeated 54
to 45. The proposal would have cost $8000 for the year and resulted in
eight hours per week of traffic patrol in Fayston.
Waitsfield, Moretown and Warren currently contract with the Washington
County Sheriff's Department for traffic enforcement in their towns. At
issue for many Faystonians was the question of whether joining other
towns in traffic enforcement was the best way to spend town money and
whether it would be effective enough to justify spending $8000 a year.
Proponents of the measure said that hiring a sheriff would be a way to
join the police protection and traffic control program in the other
towns which totals 50 hours a week and said it would be a way to start
to build up a Valley-wide police presence.
LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES
One voter pointed out that Fayston residents spent more time discussing
and voting on this $8000 article than it took them to pass their
$846,000 municipal budget which was done in less than five minutes.
Voters began by electing Jones moderator again and re-elected Virginia
Vasseur as town clerk. Patti Lewis was re-elected treasurer and Tony
Egan was re-elected lister. Select board member Bob Vasseur was
re-elected to a three-year term on that board and received thunderous
applause for his 48 years of service on that board. David Cain was
re-elected first constable for a year and Allen Tinker was re-elected
second constable. Virginia Vasseur was re-elected as delinquent tax
collector and Debra Jones was re-elected as trustee of public money.
Moderator Jones was re-elected as grand juror and David Olenick was
re-elected town agent for a year.
Arthur Williams was applauded for his service on the cemetery
commission and Tom Bisbee, after some persuasion, was elected to that
seat on the commission.
Voters heard from Shayne Jaquith and Ky Koitzch on a proposal to create
a Fayston Natural Resources Commission, a measure which was approved by
Voters convened after lunch to hold the school meeting, passing the
school budget of $1,493,462 as well as re-electing Nicole Belknap as
treasurer, Russell Beikle as school director, Susan MacLean-Daley as
school director and Jean Wry as school director.
Moretown PreTown Meeting
By Erin Post
Moretown residents weighed in on everything from a proposed
conservation easement on town land to the merits of a full-time
assistant town clerk at pre-town meeting March 5.
Prior to taking questions in the packed gymnasium at Moretown
Elementary School, select board members and school officials briefed
town residents on their proposed budgets and on other articles up for
vote by Australian ballot at Town Meeting.
School board chair Deborah Hunter said the proposed $2.09 million
school budget represents a 4.2 percent spending increase, the smallest
of any Valley towns.
For the $853,688 town budget, the $109,260 spending increase can
be attributed in part to road repairs and maintenance, said select
board co-chair John Hoogenboom.
As a result of the spending jump, he said the board decided to ask
voters to allocate all 2007 revenue from Moretown Landfill Inc. (MLI),
expected to total roughly $320,000, to offset the amount to be raised
LANDFILL REVENUE STIRS DEBATE
Moretown resident Gene Kazlow questioned why the select board
opted to put the allocation of MLI revenue to a vote by Australian
ballot as opposed to a floor vote on the article as in previous years.
Now, town residents have no recourse but to vote it up or down, Kazlow said, advocating for floor votes in the future.
"Leave that up to the town," he said, adding that he believed the
long-term benefits of adding to the reserve fund annually outweigh any
Some residents questioned whether they could vote no on the article,
then petition for a special meeting to allocate MLI revenue in a way
they see fit.
Select board members said the decision on the article hinged on
the spending hike in this year's budget, which they said may be a
burden for some taxpayers.
@SUBHEAD = RESIDENTS QUESTION DEERYARD MITIGATION
A representative from the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), the
organization slated to hold a proposed conservation easement on town
and school land, told the crowd that many traditional uses--including
school activities, hiking, and logging--would be allowed on the roughly
80 acres included in the proposal.
"[The easement] is really broad and it's really quite permissive," said Liza Walker of the VLT.
The proposed agreement with MLI stands to conserve about 80 acres
behind the school, as well as provide the town a location for a town
Some residents suggested the agreement should be put to a town-wide vote.
A meeting between the school board, select board, and other
officials on the agreement is tentatively scheduled for late March.
Officials have said both the school board and the select board are
required to sign off on the deal.
STAFFING AT TOWN CLERK'S OFFICE
Whether the town requires a full-time assistant town clerk prompted a debate about staffing levels.
Resident Duane Howes challenged the select board to explain why
they have not supported the hiring of a full-time assistant in the
office, citing the potential benefit to town residents.
"That town clerk's office needs to be open for the people in town," he said.
Select board member Stephanie Venema said the board held off on
full-time staffing decisions until they felt they had all the necessary
information. Two part-time employees are approved for the office now,
she said but added that the town could return to the issue in the
"That was just our decision this year," she said.
A spike in home construction and subdivisions in town, combined
with the added responsibility of handling property tax prebates and
rebates, has increased the workload for the office, town clerk Susan
Moretown Town Meeting
By Erin Post
Town Meeting in Moretown started off with voters calling for two
paper ballots, one to elect a moderator and the other to approve the
It ended with non-binding floor votes on presidential impeachment and terms of office for some elected positions.
Voters also considered a number of funding requests during the
roughly three-hour meeting March 6, before adjourning for a lunch
organized by the Moretown Historical Society.
Throughout the day, residents streamed into the town hall to cast
ballots for school and town budgets and to elect town and school
Voters returned two incumbents to the select board in a close
race; they also approved both the town and school budgets and a number
of special articles.
Polls closed at 7 p.m., Tuesday.
AUSTRALIAN BALLOT RESULTS
Select board incumbents Don Wexler and Paula Mastroberardino beat
out challengers Ray Munn and Carl Wimble in a four-way race for two
one-year terms. Mastroberardino received 224 votes, while Wexler
garnered 199. Challenger Carl Wimble came in third with 188 votes; Ray
Munn tallied 126. Rae Washburn, running unopposed for a three-year term
of office, received 294 votes to earn a seat on the board.
Moretown School Board directors John Schmeltzer, Jay Pilliod and
Amy Bolger, all running unopposed, were re-elected to their posts.
Voters approved the $854,688 town budget 306 to 91. The $2.09
million Moretown Elementary School budget also passed by a vote of 257
A special article asking voters to set aside $55,000 for a school capital reserve fund passed 277 to 118.
The purchase of a loader gained approval 295 to 100; voters also okayed
allocating $20,000 for the repair and upkeep of bridges.
An article to allocate all 2007 revenue the town receives from Moretown
Landfill Inc. (MLI) to offset the amount to be raised in taxes passed
281 to 106, despite a heated debate on the proposal at pre-town meeting
The following residents were also elected to positions through Australian ballot:
Constable: Clarence Wood
Constable: David Van Deusen
Lister: David Kingsbury
Auditor: Joyce Cook
Trustee of Public Money: Susan Goodyear
Grand Juror: Brian Howes
Agent to Prosecute and Defend: Brian Howes
Cemetery Commissioner: William Cook
Library Trustee: Ellie Hilferty
Library Trustee: Tom Allen
Tax Collector: Craig Eilers
VOTERS REJECT TOWN REPORT/ELECT MODERATOR
At the start of Town Meeting, some residents said they were
unhappy that the town report lacked a completed audit of the town
Moretown resident Wilma Maynard cited a paragraph in the town
report informing voters that the "Statement of Receipts and
Disbursements," and "General Fund Comparative Financial Statement" were
not available at the time the report went to print, before introducing
a motion to turn down the report. Other residents reiterated concerns
that the audit was not finished in time for residents to look over two
years in a row.
Town clerk Susan Goodyear said auditors planned to be in the
office on Thursday and hoped to have a final audit completed by April.
She cited reduced staffing at the clerk's office as she recovers from
an illness as the cause of the time crunch this year.
"It has been a very difficult and very, very busy time," Goodyear said.
An amended article to approve the school report, but not the town
report, went to a paper ballot and passed by a margin of just one vote,
36 to 35.
According to a publication from the Vermont League of Cities and
Towns (VLCT), voting down the town report carries "no specific
consequence." Instead, the organization characterizes the action as a
"measure of [voter] satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the way the
officers are conducting the town's business."
Longtime Town Meeting Moderator Jerry Maynard faced two
challengers for the post this year: Steve Magill and Clark Amadon.
Attendees called for a paper ballot vote, which Maynard won.
VOTERS AMEND SEVERAL FUNDING PROPOSALS
Through an amended article, voters upped the amount of town funding for the Sexual Assault Crisis Team of Washington County.
Resident Eric Howes proposed the amendment, suggesting $500 as an alternative total to the $100 proposed.
When it came to a vote to appropriate $945 for the Green Mountain
Transit Agency, residents debated the merits of the public
Representative Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) questioned whether the agency
deserved the town's financial support, citing reports of infrequent
stops in the village and spotty coverage in town.
"I'm hesitant to support this until I really see a commitment to Moretown," she said.
Voters approved an amended motion that makes funding contingent
upon the select board following up with the organization to discuss the
issue. Once the board is satisfied that Moretown is receiving an
"appropriate level of service," the amended motion can go through.
CLOSE CALLS FOR TWO NON-BINDING FLOOR VOTES
A floor vote on a motion calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney passed 30 to 23.
Because the article was not officially warned, officials
emphasized that the results could not be binding on the town, leading
to a discussion about the merits of taking up the proposal.
Some attendees called for the vote anyway, citing its value as an informal poll of town residents.
"It's a statement to everybody else," said Moretown resident Neal
Mostov, after introducing the motion. He referenced the dozens of other
Vermont towns considering the proposal, which states that the current
administration "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.
Another non-binding motion to rescind the three-year term of
office for the town clerk and treasurer, to be replaced with a one-year
term of office, resulted in a tie.
"I just think that the town people should have the opportunity to
make the decision each year," said Brad Reagan after introducing the
motion, citing a list of nearby towns that use one-year terms.
Although the 22 to 22 tie vote was not binding, it is to be taken on advisement by the town, officials said.
Waitsfield voters pass town and school budget, elect officers
By Lisa Loomis
Things were moving along so quickly and smoothly at Town Meeting
this year that moderator Peter Joslin gave the crowd a brief recess to
talk amongst themselves so that Town Meeting would not end its morning
session before Town Meeting lunch was ready at the Waitsfield United
Joslin brought the voters back to order to continue working through the
agenda items and quickly found the assembly hip-deep in a discussion
over generators, emergency management services, discussions over what
buildings to wire to the generator and whether the select board
exceeded the spending decision made on the generator at Town
Meeting last year. When all was said and done voters ducked out into
the cold to head for lunch at 12:15 p.m.
Town Meeting got underway with the re-election of Joslin as
moderator and moved quickly through the first few articles. As the town
was discussing how and when to collect real estate taxes, resident Jim
Leyton asked the select board if it would consider collecting taxes in
three or four installments rather than in two installations because
taxes are relatively high and it is hard for taxpayers to come up with
such large sums of money.
Town resident Matt Howes, in the first of several comments, asked
for clarification on how the reserve funds work. This year the town has
$85,000 allocated for various reserve funds, including $30,000 for a
new road truck, $15,000 for road department heavy equipment, and
$15,000 for a fire truck reserve along with other items. That article
was approved. In a separate article, voters approved $7000 towards a
fund to repair the roof of the Waitsifeld/Fayston Fire Station.
Town clerk Jennifer Peterson explained the reasoning behind Articles 9
and 10, which increased the term of her office as clerk and treasurer
from one year to three. Town residents discussed the item briefly, with
Mary Alice Bisbee acknowledging that continuity might be a good thing
for the town and the office, but she questioned whether the two terms
should be staggered, and/or one made two years versus three so that
others who might want to run for that office could do so. That item
Mark Grosby was given the opportunity to explain the reasoning
behind Article 11, which called for increasing the conservation
commission from five to nine members.
"Over the years, the amount of work our volunteer board does has
increased from reviewing properties to mapping trails on properties we
steward and we don't have enough people power to do the tasks we've
been assigned," he said.
That motion passed.
During discussion of the town's budget for the coming year, Hugh
Campbell asked for clarification on the percentage increase and Freddie
Mahlmann asked whether a line item in this year's budget for $44,000
for a staff person for the municipal sewage and water project would be
finite, ongoing, or "until the end of time."
Select board chair Elwin Neill Jr. explained first that this
year's budget increase is very small and will bring the municipal tax
rate from 29 cents to 29.5 cents, or maybe 30 cents per $100 of
assessed value. He told Mahlmann that the municipal project manager
position will oversee the water and sewage project through completion
and be done.
Still under the town budget article, voters became enmeshed in a
lengthy discussion of how the town should proceed with funds to install
an emergency generator at the Waitsfield Elementary School. At
Town Meeting last year, voters approved up to $35,000 for a generator
to be installed at the school for emergency shelter or other mass
casualty situations. Local emergency management coordinator Fred Messer
helped the town secure a grant to fund the purchase of the generator,
and the town select board wants to proceed with installation of the
generator and wiring it to the school, the General Wait House, the Mad
River Valley Health Center and the Waitsfield/Fayston Fire
There were questions about whether it is appropriate to wire the
generator into the health center at the north end of town while leaving
the doctor's office at the south end of town unconnected. Voters asked
whether the select board exceeded last year's mandate by deciding to
wire up the four buildings in close proximity to the generator.
Moderator Peter Joslin pointed out several times that the issue before
voters was this year's budget but continued to recognize residents who
rose to speak. Several speakers, including Huguette Abbott, spoke in
favor of the select board's plan, noting that it makes better sense to
prepare for a disaster than be caught unaware.
Matt Howes raised the issue of whether each building ought to have
its own generator, noting that the MRVAS building has a generator as
does the fire department.
Select board member Charlie Hosford defended the board's proposal
noting that the expense of the wiring was mostly to wire the school and
adding that wiring the other buildings to the generator is a way for
the town to prepare for having electricity to critical buildings during
a time of serious peril. Further discussion ensued until moderator
Joslin called the budget question. Before a vote was taken, Mark
Grosby, a former member of the select board, queried the board about
the increasing legal budget of the town. Voters did approve the
He noted that in 2005, the legal budget was $25,000 and the town
spent $54,000. In 2006, the legal budget was $40,000 and the town spent
$82,000. This year's budget is $53,500, "and I hope and pray it doesn't
come in at $107,000," Grosby said.
He noted that with legal costs like these the town might be well
served by hiring its own counsel rather than using paid services of
other legal firms.
In the afternoon town voters passed the school budget of
$1,937,503. In balloting voters re-elected Charlie Hosford to the
select board and Roy Hadden to the select board. Jennifer Peterson was
re-elected town clerk and treasurer, Sandy Tarburton was elected school
director and, in the only contested race, Troy Kingsbury beat Valerie
Snapp for a seat on the school board. He received 196 votes to her 77
votes. Jack Simko was re-elected as lister and Leo Laferriere was
re-elected auditory. Art Conway was re-elected as a library trustee and
Joanne Duhl was re-elected to the Harwood School Board.
Warren holds long and lively Town Meeting
By Phil King and Al Benjamin
Police coverage in Warren, the school budget and the call for impeaching President Bush and Vice President
Cheney were the highlights of the 2007 Warren Town Meeting.
The call for impeachment came on the next to last item on the Town
Meeting agenda and was passed on a voice vote with no debate after a
call for no discussion was made from the floor "since no amount of
discussion will change any minds." The voice vote in favor was loud and
clear. The full resolution reads: "Whereas George W. Bush and Richard
B. Cheney have:
• Deliberately misled the nation and the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war;
• Condoned the torture of prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention and U.S. law;
• Approved illegal electronic surveillance of American citizens without a warrant; and
"Whereas these actions have undermined our Constitutional system
of government, damaged the reputation of America and threatened our
"Therefore, the voters of the town of Warren call upon the U.S.
House of Representatives to investigate these charges and to initiate
the process of impeachment for George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.
This resolution shall be signed by the Town Clerk and forwarded to both
the Speaker and the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and
Representative John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee.
The establishment of a Conservation Commission to replace the
current Conservation Committee proved to be a highly contentious
proposition and, after a voice vote followed by a show of hands and
finally a paper ballot, the item was defeated by a vote of 86 to 78.
A proposal to have the town purchase a Voting Tabulation machine was voted down by the assembled town voters.
Attempts to reduce the budget were largely unsuccessful, an
exception being a motion to deny a $25,000 increase to the budget for
the Conservation Commission. Voters debated until after the noon hour
on a question of whether the town should allocate the additional funds
for the conservation fund. It was a lively debate with the board
ultimately recommending calling the question because of all the side
conversations that were going on. A voice vote was not conclusive and a
hand count ensued, with 71 opposed to the increase and 70 in favor.
Amidst grumbling, a paper ballot was called for and tabulated during
lunch, coming in at 84 no votes and 72 yes votes.
Meanwhile, a three percent raise for Warren administrator Cindy Jones
was defended and retained when select board member Barry Simpson
defended her handling of a tough job, including a wastewater project,
without an assistant.
Moving the Warren Public Library from its current location in the
Municipal Building to the Town Hall was debated for about an hour
before it was approved by the voters.
An attempt to reduce the Music and Arts budget from $2500 to $1500 for
the Warren Arts and Music Committee failed. A motion was made from the
floor to increase that budget by a $1,000. But the chair of the
committee, Virginia Roth, refused the increase and the matter was
Complaints about police coverage in Warren were vocal and
questioned the proper expenditure of time by the sheriff's deputies and
the state police on checking speeders but not exercising the same
amount of interest in preventing home invasions and robberies of
various places of business. The select board indicated that a meeting
will be held with Washington County Sheriff Hill to discuss all aspects
of police coverage in Warren. The public will be invited to participate
in the open public meeting. On a voice vote, voters overwhelmingly
turned back an attempt to decrease the hours of the sheriff's patrol
In other actions, the voters approved a request by Rebecca Peatman to
increase the special appropriation for Central Vermont Home Health and
Hospice from $2,000 to $4,000.
The town budget of $2,139,750 was passed by a voice vote.
After the traditional break for lunch, the meeting resumed shortly
after 1 p.m. and continued until approximately 2:50 p.m. to allow the
annual School District meeting to begin. Earlier the assemblage voted
to begin next year's meeting at 9 a.m.
SCHOOL BUDGET APPROVED
In a very short meeting, the Warren Town voters attending the
Warren Town School District meeting approved the school budget for
2007. The budget, which totals $1,773,155, was quickly approved on
A slide show explaining the educational highlights preceeded the
vote. The budget is for the Warren Elementary School. It was pointed
out that Warren's elementary school increased 7.1 percent primarily
because of changes in special education costs. Warren's per pupil cost
of $10,950 is the lowest of four Valley towns-Waitsfield, Fayston, and
Moretown will have higher per pupil costs for 2007.
Chris Stecher contributed to this report.
TWO NEW SELECT BOARD MEMBERS
The Australian ballot results for the various town officers show
that two new members will be joining the Warren Select Board. Erin
Russell Story was elected to a three-year term, while Kirstin Reilly
was elected to that board for a two-year term.
In other races Priscilla Robinson was re-elected to a new three-year
term as lister as she defeated Steve Butcher with 210 votes to his 98.
Most of the other positions on the ballot were unopposed except where
indicated. Reta Goss was re-elected to a one-year term as Town Clerk
with 302 votes and also as Delinquent Tax Collector with 298 votes.
Elaine Fuller was re-elected as Trustee of Public Money with 300 votes
and also as School Treasurer with 292 votes. She was also elected as
Town Treasurer with 292 votes.
John (Jack) W. Lonsdale Jr. received 25 write-in votes for another
term as Second Constable. Wayne Kathan was re-elected Town Agent with
292 votes. Ken Greenslit was elected for the first time to serve on the
Cemetery Commission. He received 268 votes. Michele Eid was re-elected
for a new five-year term on the Cemetery Commission. She received 291
For the School Board directors, Adam Greshin was elected to a
three-year term with 260 votes as Michael Ketchel was elected to a
two-year term with 272 votes. Sasha Woolson received 273 votes for the
one-year term on the school board. Mac Rood was re-elected as School
Moderator with 288 votes.