Local News

Woodstock voters approve option tax

By Katy Savage

Woodstock voters approved a 1% local option tax on Town Meeting Day, March 5.

Residents voted in favor by a sizable amount, 997-308, after it was narrowly defeated 426-417 on Town Meeting Day in 2022 and went for a recount.

The tax will add 1% to the state’s existing 6% sales tax and would apply to any purchases made in town or online.

Proponents of the tax say it would collect money for the town to use on future development projects, while others say the tax could deter shoppers.

Residents also approved the $8.02 million budget, 1,184-108, of which $6.6 million is to be raised from taxes. The budget is up about 4% from last year and expected to increase taxes about 6%.

Laura Powell won a Select Board seat for a one-year term over Scott Smith 761-449.

It took until about 1 a.m. March 6 to tally the results in Woodstock after Town Clerk Charles Degener said new voting machines caused several hours of delay. 

The Vermont Secretary of State’s Office installed Dominion ballot tabulating machines in all 140 Vermont towns and municipalities that used them in 2022 to replace AccuVote machines.

The new machines were installed following a 2013 state law that requires all municipalities to “use a uniform voting machine approved by the secretary of state.”
Degener said the new machines allow voters to place their ballots in the machine themselves, instead of a ballot box. The machines then capture an image of every ballot.

Degener said the process, combined with an extra long ballot in Woodstock from the Select Board utilizing emergency Covid-19 provisions to vote all issues by ballot, created an inordinately large ballot and a long line at the polls Tuesday morning.
“To expedite the process, some voters placed their ballots in a ballot box rather than directly into the machine,” Degener said.
After the polls closed, officials gathered the ballots and put them in the machines.
Rutland City had results about a half hour after polls closed, but former Rutland City Town Clerk Henry Heck echoed Degener in explaining the new voting technology is slower.
“The voters basically press all the buttons,” Heck said in an interview March 5 with PEGTV.

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