West Rutland school budget up for third vote following tie on Town Meeting Day
WEST RUTLAND—Voters rejected their school budget with a 159-159 tie vote on Town Meeting Day, March 7. They turned out again in nearly the same numbers and turned the budget down again, 157-153, said Rutland Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Debra Taylor.
The proposed budget is $5.7 million, 1.09 percent lower than the current year. Taylor believes voters who voted against the budget may be reacting to the 11.4 percent per pupil spending increase. All Vermont schools show a budget change because the state requires moving special education revenue from the schools to the supervisory union. West Rutland’s enrollment is lower, as is the number of students who pay tuition to attend the school from outside the district. There was more of a surplus in the 2016 budget to use as revenue, but that was not so for the 2017 budget.
The changes in the budget are unique to this year and are not part of the budget that will be proposed in 2018, explained the school board and supervisory union officials. Equally unique are the voting results. West Rutland voters have not rejected a school budget in the six years Taylor has worked for the Rutland Central Supervisory Union. State Agency of Education Finance Manager Brad James has not seen a tied school budget vote in the 20 years he has been with the agency.
The board decreased the budget by $181,434 by reducing personnel by 2.25 full-time equivalents as well as reducing supplies, fuel, and equipment expenditures. Voters will cast their ballots on the lowered budget, May 2.
Aldermen approve mayoral appointments
The Rutland City Board of Aldermen approved incoming Mayor David Allaire’s choices for interim alderman, new city attorney, and incumbent department heads, April 3. Allaire asked former Alderman Ed Larson to fill the seat Allaire had vacated on being elected mayor, a one-year appointment his fellow aldermen approved 6-3. Larsen commented that Allaire wooed him for the position, outlining his objectives for the city and saying Larsen had the experience and institutional knowledge of the community that is of value to the board.
The board welcomed Matt Bloomer unanimously to a two-year position as city attorney. Bloomer had been appointed to the board in 2014; voters elected him to finish the term in 2015, but he dropped out of the race in 2016, citing both a new job and a new baby.
The board then approved the return of Jeff Wennberg as commissioner of the Department of Public Works, Bob Tanner as building inspector, Henry Heck as city clerk, and Tara Kelly as zoning administrator. All are two year terms.
The aldermen also approved Cindi Wight as city recreation department head for two years in a 5-5 vote. Although the vote was a tie, Wight will continue in the position; Allaire said a candidate must have seven no-votes to lose a post.
As the meeting concluded, Board President Sharon Davis asked the membership to consider two ideas for committee discussion: the best uses for properties owned by the city, and whether city property tax bills and water bills should be set for payment the same month. The community development committee is examining the city properties’ use, and the public works committee is considering the tax question.
The board agreed with the Farmers’ Market’s request that the board continue setting the fee for Depot Park usage at $500.
Endless Summer Tanning celebrated its grand opening and Chamber ribbon cutting, March 28. The business at 217 Woodstock Ave. offers manicures and pedicures, hair styling and coloring as well as tanning.
Karen Worcester brought nearly 30 years of banking experience with her as she joined the Bank of Bennington as manager of its newest branch at 143 Woodstock Ave. in Rutland. Her most recent position was that of assistant branch manager for Berkshire Bank in Rutland.
Tami Napolitano of Awesome Graphics and Robert Stubbins of Robert Stubbins Electrical in Rutland are two of 20 entrepreneurs across the state selected to participate in a free business course starting April 21 at Vermont Technical College. Emerging Leaders is a small business administration training program designed specifically for entrepreneurs intent on growing their small businesses. Napolitano and Stubbins will receive 100 hours of classroom time, connections to small business owners with a network of industry experts and peers, and assistance creating a three-year strategic growth action plan.