Local News

Town Meeting Day marked by high voter turnout across region

By Stephen Seitz

Voters all over the region seemed to be in a pretty generous mood this year, approving most of the spending articles placed before them on Tuesday, March 1, Town Meeting Day.

Voters in Killington passed every article on the warning, including a $4.1 million budget, and agreed to borrow $200,000 for a new library roof. Chairwoman Patty McGrath successfully fended off a challenge from former selectman Jim Haff by a vote of 264 to 203.

In the city of Rutland, voters said yes to $19.3 million for fiscal year 2017, as well as $50.4 million for the schools. Voters also authorized a $2.5 million bond issue to upgrade White’s Pool, $1.3 million to install a water equalization tank near Campbell Road, and $1.7 million to replace water mains on Park, Crescent and East streets, Jackson and Engrem avenues, and Spellman Terrace. Most of these bonds will be repaid over a 20-year period.

In Brandon, voters overwhelmingly said yes to issuing $835,200 in general obligation bonds for highway and infrastructure repairs, by a vote of 892 to 249. They also approved a bond issue of $680,000 for the Champlain Street wastewater pump station, by a vote of 855 to 255. The proposed $5.4 million budget also passed.

“We survived the town meeting and election,” Bridgewater Town Clerk Nancy Robinson said. “Everything went right through.”

That included a budget of $778,367.98, adding the tax collector’s duties to the town treasurer, and a $180,000 loan for a new truck for the highway department.

Castleton voters apparently like having line-item approval; a proposal to condense the numerous appropriation articles to a five-item budget failed, by a vote of 728 against, 415 in favor. Voters did approve up to $650,000 to build a new town office building.

Chittenden adopted a budget of $415,831, as well as $512,300 for highway expenses.

In Ludlow, a local options tax proposal failed narrowly, 319 for, 342 against. While everything else passed, including the $3.6 million budget for the coming fiscal year, a request from the Masonic Temple for another five years of tax exemption failed, but the vote was close: 307 in favor, 348 opposed.

“We had a relatively quiet town meeting,” said Plymouth Town Clerk Sandie Small. “We passed the [$1.2 million] budget and the human service articles. The school budget passed, too.”

Pomfret voters passed a proposed town budget of  $1,358,491. Voters also expanded the Board of Selectmen from three members to five.

In Proctor, voters approved the town and highway budget, for a combined total of $1.2 million, voted from the floor during the Feb. 29 business meeting.

Reading held its meeting on Feb. 26, and passed a proposed town budget of $607,142.50, and an elementary school budget of a little more than $1 million.

“We did that with a floor vote,” said town clerk Calista Brennan. “We held a short meeting. We started at 9:30 and finished by a quarter to 12.”

In Rutland Town, officials faced a surprise: an unexpectedly high turnout forced officials to photocopy extra ballots. Town Clerk Donna Zeller said this had no effect on election results.

“We usually have about 1,000 voters, and this year just under 1,600 showed up,” she said. “We photocopied about 100 ballots, but there was only a 10 to 15 minute wait. If a voter didn’t want to wait, that was their prerogative, but everyone who wanted to vote got a ballot.”

All the budget articles passed, according to the officially posted results.

Woodstock voters were feeling pretty good, too. According to town clerk Jay Morgan, voters decided to float a $100,000 bond to build a permanent home for the Chamber of Commerce. They also authorized $948,000 to cover sewer department expenses; and the proposed town budget of $4.8 million. Voters also decided to eliminate the position of second constable.

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