On the municipal side of Dover’s Town Meeting, budget items passed with little discussion, including a general fund expenditure for operational expenses of $2,208,391.16; a highway fund expenditure for operational expenses of $1,396,483.84; a capital paving fund appropriation of $650,000; a capital equipment fund appropriation of $250,000; and a capital building fund appropriation of $80,000.
Outside appropriations, both returning and new, were met with enthusiasm from most residents. Returning appropriations included $3,372 for SeVEDS and $5,224.66 for MHCA Dover Cinema. Andrea Seaton said she feels the theater is one of the town’s biggest assets.
“I’m fully in favor of this,” said Seaton. “It brings people to the town. I know (MHCA Board of Directors Chair) Dan (Facilla) is struggling. Sometimes there are 10 to 12 people there. He’s a devoted volunteer.”
Board vice chair Vicki Capitani explained that the MHCA appropriation, $5,224.66, covers the theater’s taxes.
New appropriations included Deerfield Valley Rescue, which asked for and received $20,000. Bobby Maynard, who was present to speak on behalf of Rescue, said Dover made up about a quarter of Rescue’s calls last year. This was the first year that Rescue asked for a regular appropriation from Dover. In September, Rescue asked for and received $20,000 from the town’s 1% economic development fund to help it secure its new building on Route 100. At the time, Wilmington also gave money from its 1% fund for the new building. Maynard said Rescue was not asking Wilmington for an appropriation at this year’s Town Meeting because it was instead asking the town for a property tax exemption on its new site.
“Next year, we will ask all the towns we serve for monetary support,” said Maynard, noting that Rescue serves a 247-square-mile area including Wilmington, Dover, Whitingham, Halifax, Somerset, Searsburg, a one-mile stretch of Stratton, and half of Marlboro.
Voters also approved $250 to the Windham County Disaster Animal Response Team, which would shelter animals in the town should a disaster occur where people had to be sheltered, and $15,000 for Support for Services at Home. According to Becky Arbella, who was present to speak on behalf of SASH, the group, which provides in-home care, serves 58 Dover residents.
Sen. Jeanette White and Rep. Laura Sibilia provided updates about marijuana legalization; a roadside saliva test for impairment; education financing; and gun control, an issue that has been a major point of focus of late. White also talked about S. 105, which she said she sees as one of the most important pieces of legislation that could pass this year. It pertains to customer justice enforcement.
Town Meeting went from 10 am to about 2:30 pm in Dover, with the town’s portion, inclusive of updates from Sibilia and White, taking until about 12:45 pm. A midday lunch was paid for by the selectboard and was served by Dover School students.
Town Moderator Rich Werner started the day with a moment of silence for three residents who died this year, John Snow, Don Albano, and Jack Carroll. The start of the day had some levity, too, with Werner, having attended Wardsboro’s annual school district meeting the night prior, borrowing that town’s tradition of kicking the meeting off with town trivia. Facts explored included what the grand list was in 1958 ($463,082; this year, it was $9,829,781.82). At the end of the day, Werner asked voters if they’d like to continue doing trivia at the meetings. Many nodded.
The day’s most memorable moment, perhaps, was when White and Sibilia presented Werner, who in January retired after 30 years with the Dover Police Department, with a resolution honoring his service. Werner, who was clearly taken by surprise, was met with a standing ovation from all in attendance.