It’s time for Town Meeting! We are the lucky heirs of a great New England tradition of community debate. Be sure to read up on what’s up for a vote this year in your town. And for Brandon residents, please check out our extensive Q & A with the 5 candidates running for Selectboard.
Brandon residents on Tuesday, March 7 will be voting on three contested seats on the selectboard. One seat is a three-year term and is currently held by Brian Coolidge. He is being challenged by Marielle Blais. The other two seats are for one-year terms and are currently held by Seth Hopkins and Ralph Ethier. Cecil Reniche-Smith is seeking to take one of those two seats.
Susan Gage is running uncontested for three-year terms as both Town Clerk and Town Treasurer. Ms. Gage currently holds both positions. Jeff Haylon is running uncontested for a two-year term as a Trustee of the Brandon Free Public Library.
There are two races with no announced candidates: Town Moderator and Trustee of Public Funds. Both of these races will be decided by write-in votes only.
Voters will also be asked to approve $3,346,150 for the FY 2024 budget year, of which $2,737,260 is to be raised by property taxes. That represents an increase of approximately 3.6% from the previous year’s spending and an increase of approximately 1% in amount raised by taxes.
In addition to the $3.34 million in overall town spending, voters will be asked to approve raising taxes to fund:
• $7,000, Brandon Independence Day Celebration.
• $25,000, Brandon American Legion Post #55.
• $1,000, Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce.
• $82,580, Brandon Area Rescue Squad.
• $92,000, Brandon Free Public Library,
• $13,500, Brandon Senior Citizens Center,
• $1,000, Open Door Clinic, Community Health Services of Addison County, which provides access to dental and healthcare, free of charge, to those who are uninsured or under-insured.
• $550, RSVP & The Volunteer Center, for free income tax preparation and volunteer placements.
• $1,500, Rutland County Humane Society.
• $10,200, VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region.
• $2,500, Brandon Museum at the Stephen A. Douglas Birthplace Community Center.
• $2,900, Southern Vermont Council on Aging
Brandon voters will also weigh in on a proposed Otter Valley Unified Union School District spending plan of $24,174,395, which would result in education spending of $18,629 per equalized pupil — 9.27% higher than spending for the current year.
The board representing OVUUSD has the following races: Kevin Thornton is running for a three-year-term representing Brandon. M. Fernanda Canales is running to complete one year of a three-year term representing Goshen. Brett Mullin is running to complete two years of a three-year term representing Pittsford. These races are uncontested.
Two at-large seats for the OVUUSD board are on the ballot: Jeremy Gildrien, Paul W. Lathrop, and Brent Scarborough are all running for the 2 three-year seats.
The Brandon selectboard will host the annual Town Meeting on Monday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at Brandon Town Hall. Voting by Australian Ballot will take place on March 7 at the Brandon American Legion Post No. 55, 550 Franklin St., between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
While 2023 will mark a return to an in-person town meeting for most Vermont towns, Goshen met in-person last year and will again gather live at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 6, in Goshen Town Hall. Australian ballot voting is Tuesday, March 7, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at the town hall.
However, what is, for some, a key component of the evening will be missing — no potluck dinner before the meeting. Town Clerk Rosemary McKinnon said this is due a change in the Municipal Building Access Policy, which was instituted by the current selectboard.
That is among what is apparently a number of complaints that could draw a large number of residents to the meeting.
“I think we’ll have a good turnout this year,” McKinnon said.
One hot topic will be whether the town will offer garbage, recycling and food waste collection. Apparently, there is dissention over how the selectboard awarded the trash pickup contract last year and some just want the town to get out of the trash business altogether. McKinnon said there has been trash pickup or drop-off at a central location for at least 20 years. If residents decide they want the town to be involved, then they will appropriate not more than $32,000 for one of two options: curbside pickup or central collection.
Voting on general town spending and road spending will also take place at town meeting. The general fund request is for $244,163. That is very close to the figure that was approved last year with no discussion. Residents will also vote on spending $176,500 to defray highway expenses, which is less than what was approved last year. The town has secured at least a half-million dollars in grants to fix Town Hill Road, which was a contentious issue last year. Also, the selectboard has set policy so that it must OK every expenditure on the roads, which might be keeping spending down. The board invites discussion on whether Goshen should outsource road maintenance to a third party so it wouldn’t have to keep and maintain equipment, nor would it have to track hours and manage road department employees.
Discussion on several hot topics could take place during the budget discussion, or during discussion, if there is any, on the selectboard report, which is the first article on the warning. In addition to complaints about trash collection, some people are upset over the building access policy and its requirement to get a permit to use the town hall for an event. Also, the selectboard removed a security camera from the town offices, and security cameras at other town venues are also in dispute as some people think they are unnecessary and ineffective while others think they are necessary and don’t understand why they were removed.
Meeting attendees will also decide if the three members of the town cemetery commission will change from being appointed to instead be elected by Australian ballot.
It has been a tumultuous year for Goshen municipal government. Since the last town meeting, two of the three selectboard member abruptly resigned due to uncivil behavior shown toward them. The one remaining selectboard member, Thomasina Magoon, was just elected this past March. As a result, Tammy Walsh and Bill Mathis were appointed to the selectboard.
In Town Meeting Day voting, Goshen residents will be voting for two selectboard seats. Mathis will stand for a one-year seat with former Selectman David McKinnon also running for that position. Walsh will face Marci Hayes for a three-year seat. Hayes is also on the ballot for the position of first constable.
Also on that Tuesday, Goshen voters will weigh in on a proposed Otter Valley Unified Union School District spending plan of $24,174,395, which would result in education spending of $18,629 per equalized pupil — 9.27% higher than spending for the current year.
Fernanda Canales is running uncontested to complete one year of a three-year term representing Goshen on the OVUUSD board. There is a contest for two at-large seats for the OVUUSD board are on the ballot: Jeremy Gildrien, Paul W. Lathrop and Brent Scarborough are all running for the two three-year seats.
Goshen will also have the opportunity to vote on two other OVUUSD board seats. Kevin Thornton is running uncontested for a three-year-term representing Brandon, and Brett Mullin is running to complete two years of a three-year term representing Pittsford.
Even though this year’s Leicester town meeting — scheduled for Monday, March 6, 7 p.m. at the Leicester Meeting House — is for informational purposes only, some people in town are looking forward to it. Like most places in Vermont, this will be the first in-person town meeting since 2020.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Town Clerk Julie Delphia. “For small towns, town meeting is one of the few opportunities for the community to come together in one place and interact.”
Regardless of how well those human interactions go, Leicester residents will have some important decisions to make when they go to the polls between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Leicester Town Office. Perhaps the biggest will be giving a yes or no on proposed spending of $798,562, which represents an increase of $36,296, or 4.8%, from the figure approved last year. The meeting warning breaks out that proposed spending at $330,972 for general town spending and $467,590 for spending on roads.
Despite that hike in spending, the projected property taxes would actually slide almost $5,000, or 1%, to $590,319.
There are no contested elections for town office posts on the Town Meeting Day ballot. Vying for three- and two-year seats on the Leicester selectboard are incumbents Tom Barker and John Rouse. Town Clerk and Treasurer Julie Delphia is the only name on the ballot for three years in each of those positions.
Leicester voters will be asked to assist people in recovery from substance use disorder by putting forward $1,000 to the Turning Point Center of Addison County. Another petitioned item on the town warning asks if voters approve or deny the town authority to spend town funds to the Otter Creek Watershed Insect Control District (formerly the BLSG) to spay for mosquito — the petition didn’t specify an amount that could be spent.
Also on that Tuesday, Leicester voters will weigh in on a proposed Otter Valley Unified Union School District spending plan of $24,174,395, which would result in education spending of $18,629 per equalized pupil — 9.27% higher than spending for the current year.
Leicester has an open seat on the OVUUSD board with no one on the ballot; write-ins are welcome. Residents of Leicester may also vote in elections of other towns’ school directors, and there is a contest for two at-large seats for the OVUUSD board: Jeremy Gildrien, Paul W. Lathrop and Brent Scarborough are all running for the 2 three-year seats.
The voters of Pittsford will convene for their annual Town Meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Lothrop Elementary School. The following business will be voted from the floor:
- To authorize $1,880,430 in general fund expenditures for operating expenses, of which $1,460,695 is to be raised by property taxes and $419,735 by non-tax revenues
- To authorize highway fund expenditures of $1,196,484, of which $1,046,734 is to be raised by property taxes and $149,750 by non-tax revenues
- To authorize $17,000 for Village District expenses, of which the entire amount is to be raised by property taxes
- To authorize the collection of property taxes by the Town Treasurer in three equal installments, due on or before August 15, September 15, and November 15, 2023 by physical delivery to the tax collector
- To authorize a change in the length of the term held by the Maclure Library Board of Trustee Town Representative
Voters will have the opportunity on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, to decide by Australian ballot (at the Town Offices on Plains Road) the following:
- Town Moderator for a one-year term. There are no candidates on the ballot.
- Selectman for a one-year term. Mark Winslow is running unopposed.
- Selectman for a two-year term. David Mills is running unopposed.
- Town Clerk for a three-year term. Helen McKinlay is running unopposed.
- Town Treasurer for a three-year term. Helen McKinlay is running unopposed.
- Trustee of Public Funds for a three-year term. Helen McKinlay is running unopposed.
- Trustee of Maclure Library for a one-year term. There are no candidates on the ballot.
The residents of Proctor will hold their annual Town Meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023, in the Proctor Junior-Senior High School gymnasium at 7:00 p.m. Voters will be asked to approve the following from the floor:
- $994,281 for general expenses for the town from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024
- $499,692 for maintenance and repair of town highways from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024
- $17,500 for the Otter Creek Watershed Control District to provide services to suppress the mosquito and biting fly populations from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024
- $67,000 for the Proctor Free Library for the period from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024
- An article authorizing Proctor to join the Otter Creek Watershed Control District
- An article authorizing Proctor to collect taxes on real and personal property in four installments on August 10, November 10, February 10, and May 10 for the period from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024
- An article authorizing Proctor to establish a reserve fund to be called the Forest Management Reserve Fund, to be used to construct logging roads on town-owned land in accordance with the law
- An article authorizing Proctor to transfer $107,312 from the Town Hall Building Fund to the Forest Management Reserve Fund
- An article authorizing Proctor to establish a reserve fund to be called the Capital Improvements and Planning Reserve Fund to be used for federal, state, and regional grant matching in accordance with the law
- An article transferring charge of the Town’s burial grounds from the Board of Cemetery Commissioners to the Proctor Selectboard
On Tuesday, March 7, 2023, voters will have the opportunity to vote by Australian ballot (also at the Junior-Senior High School) on the following:
- To elect a Town Moderator for a one-year term. Andrew Maass is running unopposed.
- To elect a Member to the Selectboard for a three-year term. Benjamin Curtis is running unopposed.
- To elect a Member to the Selectboard for a two-year term. This seat is being sought by Philip Bennett and Linda Doty.
- To elect a Director to the Quarry Valley School Board for a three-year term. Lisa Miser is running unopposed.
- To elect a Town Treasurer for a three-year term. Celia Lisananti is running unopposed.
- To elect a Town Clerk for a three-year term. Celia Lisananti is running unopposed.
- To approve $19,887,185.20 for the operation of the Quarry Valley Unified Union School District, representing per-pupil spending of $17,772 and an increase of 5.21% over last year
- To approve the transfer of up to 50% of any 2022 fiscal-year-end surplus to the District’s Capital Improvements and Facility Repair and Maintenance Fund
At last year’s in-person town meeting, no one asked questions about the proposed town spending plan and it was approved by voice vote. Will it be such smooth sailing this year?
Perhaps it will: the warned figure for town spending went up, but the amount that would come from property taxes went down.
The legal voters of Whiting will meet on Tuesday, March 7, at 7:15 p.m. After meeting in the firehouse last year, the town meeting will return to the Whiting Town Hall, which saw its foundation and drainage problems fixed in the past year, as well as having its floors fixed and interior painting and facelift done with the help of Heather and Tom Bouchard.
The one money item on the warning asks for $455,260 for town expenses, which is $44,042, or 10.7%, higher than what was OK’d last year. The selectboard said this budget would require $289,304 in taxes, which is $1,784, or less than 1%, lower than was asked for last year.
Whiting residents will also nominate and vote for 11 town officers. On the top of the list are town clerk and treasurer, a job currently held by Heather Bouchard. A three-year term on the selectboard is also up for grabs; Steve Quenneville is the incumbent.
Other office holders that will be voted upon include lister, auditor, first constable, tax collector and four library trustees.
Whiting does all its municipal business at its town meeting, but residents on Tuesday will go to the polls at the town hall, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., on Tuesday to weigh in on a proposed Otter Valley Unified Union School District spending plan of $24,174,395, which would result in education spending of $18,629 per equalized pupil — 9.27% higher than spending for the current year.
There is not a Whiting opening on the OVUUSD board, but residents of Whiting may vote in elections of other towns’ school directors. There is a contest for two at-large seats for the OVUUSD board: Jeremy Gildrien, Paul W. Lathrop and Brent Scarborough are all running for the 2 three-year seats.