The municipal warning will be addressed first, followed by the school district warning. On the town side of things, Article 3 pertains to compensation for the town clerk ($54,102.24, up from $52,532.28 last year); town treasurer ($5,000 annual stipend, unchanged from last year); selectboard chairman and selectboard members ($2,500 and $2,000 respectively, unchanged from last year); and town auditors ($17.43 per hour, up from $16.92 per hour last year).
Article 4 asks whether the voters will authorize general fund expenditure for operational expenses of $2,208,391.16. Article 5 asks whether voters will authorize highway fund expenditure for operational expenses of $1,396,483.84. Per the selectboard at its January 2 meeting, general fund expenditure for operational expenses is down 1% and highway fund expenditure for operational expenses is up 1%.
Articles 6, 7, and 8 ask whether voters will raise and appropriate $650,000 for the capital paving fund, $250,000 for the capital equipment fund, and $80,000 for the capital building improvement fund. These numbers are unchanged from last year.
Returning appropriations include $3,372 for Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) and $5,224.66 for MHCA Dover Cinema (Memorial Hall Center for the Arts Inc.). Though the MHCA appropriation is up slightly (it was warned last year at $5,161.25), the increase does not likely reflect a request from some voters at last year’s Town Meeting that MHCA request additional funds to enhance and fortify the business.
New appropriations include the Windham County Disaster Animal Response Team ($250), Support for Services at Home ($15,000), and Deerfield Valley Rescue ($20,000).
In September, the board approved an appropriation to Deerfield Valley Rescue out of the town’s 1% economic development funds, a decision that drew some criticism from members of the town’s business community who did not think it was an appropriate use of funds intended for economic development. Subsequently, Support for Services at Home requested 1% funds and the board denied the request, citing the the pushback they received about the Deerfield Valley Rescue appropriation. The board asked Support for Services at Home to petition to be on the Town Meeting warning instead.
On the school side, Article 18 asks whether the school district should expend $25,000 to add transportation to Brattleboro High School. The article came after a parent raised concerns about students taking the MOOver, which is sometimes crowded, to Brattleboro.
Article 19 asks whether the school should expend $4,000 to the MOOver for the bus that runs from Wilmington to Brattleboro High School. If both articles are approved, a bus will run directly to Brattleboro High School and students will also be able to take the MOOver from Wilmington to Brattleboro.
Article 20 asks whether the school district should expend $30,000 to increase the school’s pre-K program to a full-day program. Per Principal Matt Martyn at the Dover School Board’s last meeting, the structure of how that program would take shape has not yet been determined, but more clarity will be provided before and at Town Meeting.
Article 21 asks whether the town school district shall set the annual tuition rate to approved independent schools at $17,065 for the 2018-2019 school year, up from last year’s $16,700. Traditionally, the Dover School District matches the Burr & Burton tuition rate.
Article 22 asks whether the school district shall compensate the school board chairperson $2,500 and the school board members $2,000. These numbers are unchanged from last year.
Article 24 asks whether the voters shall approve the school board expending $3,001,623, which is the total amount the school board has determined to be necessary for the ensuing fiscal year. This number is down from last year’s $3,105,067.
Articles 23 and 25 pertain to the capital reserve fund, with Article 23 asking whether the school district may authorize any surplus from the 2017-2018 budget to go into the capital reserve fund and Article 25 asking whether the school directors may withdraw money from the fund to offset the homestead tax rate, but not more than $330,000.
Town Meeting will be held Tuesday, March 6, at 10 am at Dover Town Hall. Pre-Town Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 27, at 7 pm at Dover Town Hall.