Article 11 asked voters to create the repair and replacement fund, and Article 12 asked voters to fund it with $30,000. Selectboard and fire department member David Marchegiani said that the department has a capital plan in place with the long-term goal of replacing vehicles every eight to 10 years, but the money will also be used for repairs to the department’s equipment. The sum of $30,000 represents a split between the amount of money appropriated for the bridge fund and fire protection gear at last year’s meeting. Last year the fire protective gear equaled $10,000 while the bridge fund was appropriated $50,000. With 95% of the work done on the town’s new bridges, the town decided to split the $60,000 between the two funds in order to keep the tax rate the same, but in essence share the wealth.
Voters funded both the bridge fund and the new fire equipment repair and replacement fund with $30,000.
Other funds to receive appropriation approvals from voters were the cemetery fund, which received a total of $10,000, and the town-owned-building reserve fund, which received $37,743 from the 2013 general fund balance. Marchegiani said that this money would go toward an eventual new town garage as well as a new salt shed, and fixing and cleaning up properties.
Voters approved the appropriation of $5,000 for fireworks for the annual Independence Day celebration. Last year the town appropriated $6,500, but the Fourth of July committee has been active this year, raising $1,500, thus bringing down the total needed.
When it came to the Wings community programs appropriation, the voters found a point of disagreement. During discussion, voter Larry Hopkins explained that each year the town had voted to appropriate $2,000 toward Wings, but those who petition for it have neglected to collect it, and the $2,000 ends up going back into the general fund at the end of the year. Wings also receives $6,500 out of the school budget’s student activity fund each year.
Cyndi Candiloro said that when the school put on its production of “Yes, Virginia” in December, the show had to be put on using Wings money rather than the $1,000 grant the school had received. “If the Wings people knew it was sitting there they would have come and got it.”
Selectboard chair Teddy Hopkins, who admitted he did not know that Wings had not collected the money, said that it is not the town’s job to communicate with Wings over money that had been appropriated. “It’s an article of petition by the Wings people, and it’s their job to come to us.”
Town moderator Bill LeQuier called a voice vote that proved inconclusive. After a show of hands indicated 19 for and 18 against the measure, LeQuier called a ballot vote, and the measure finally passed with a 31-20 victory.
Another ballot vote passed more easily earlier in the evening as the town asked voters to eliminate the listers positions. “What we have had is a changeover of listers over the years for a lot of different reasons,” said Teddy Hopkins. “People get involved in the position and find it to be too much work, or it’s not compatible with their schedule. There’s also a huge learning curve with legality and technology.”
Current listers voiced their support of the town’s plan to hire a professional firm to do the lister work at essentially the same expense, while employing a clerical worker for immediate needs.
“I want to urge a yes vote on this,” said lister Annelise Henriksen Carew. “Up until now you’ve been placing the value of your home in the hands of people who are absolute amateurs. I urge you to think seriously about it, and how you want your properties valued.”
Fellow lister Larry Hopkins also supported the article, but warned that the cost of a professional would be $75 an hour, and the town needed to make sure it used those hours wisely, and not just for “paper pushing.”
The voters agreed to pass the article with a paper ballot vote of 55 to 3. The voters also decided to eliminate the personal property tax, which only brings in approximately $970 annually, an amount which, according to the selectboard, costs more for the town to pursue each year.
On the school board side of business, school director Larry Hopkins prefaced his presentation with the question, “Promise not to shoot?” Hopkins went on to explain that the school’s fund balance had decreased by $64,000 over the last fiscal year, and that the residential base tax increased from 94 cents to $1.01 and the nonresidential from $1.44 to $1.51. Part of the expensive projections came due to the number of high schoolers the town would be paying for as eight will be in high school, while only five are graduating this year. Hopkins also said that newly hired principal Chris Smith’s salary and health insurance plan would total $67,000 in the budget.
The town voted to approve the school budget 98 to 82. Cherie Giddings defeated Hopkins 97 to 88 for the open seat on the school board.