Spending issues on Town Meeting agendas for Andover, Chester, Grafton & Weston

2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

This time of year, town governments throughout Vermont begin setting their proposed spending agendas that voters will have to vote up or down either from the floor or by Australian ballot. Below are summaries of those articles for Andover, Chester, Grafton and Weston. Because of the Tuesday snows, we’ll give you Londonderry next week. Here’s a link to last week’s article on these towns’ elections of public officials.

Andover-Windsor mapAndover budget rises

The Andover Town budget has risen 5.7 percent over last year, according to Town Clerk Linda Bargfrede. The increase – to thus far an unofficial amount of $762,296.75 – can be attributed to among other items, road equipment, a hike in the fire protection fee to Chester of $5,000, to $14,000, and investment in the capital equipment fund, Bargfrede said.

Andover voters will meet on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Town Hall and will begin with the school meeting at 10 a.m. and town government votes immediately following.

On Tuesday, March 3, Andover voters will vote by paper ballot on the school budgets of Green Mountain Union High and Chester-Andover Elementary schools.

Chester pulls Australian ballot articles

Two articles that had been proposed for the Chester Town Warning were officially struck from the docket at the last Select Board meeting. Those articles would have asked town voters to remove voting from the floor at the Monday Town Meeting, in effect putting all budget and public questions to vote on Australian ballots and turning the Town Meeting into an informational session.

Voters will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, March 2 at Town Hall, 556 Elm St., to vote on Town School District issues before moving on to 19 articles for Town Meeting, most addressing fiscal allocations. Article 2 is to accept $250 each from three private citizens for perpetual care of cemetery lots. Article 3 is the municipal budget. Traditionally the amount is moved from the floor although the budget appears in the annual report.  The amount of the proposed municipal budget is $2,844,304.52.

Article 4 addresses capital expenses of $452,828 that include: $130,000 for a new dump truck; $58,000 for a new loader; $54,167 for sidewalk replacement; $85,111 for the fire truck lease; $16,650 for Fire Department air packs; $17,500 for an air compressor fill station for the Fire Department; $24,900 for communications tower upgrades serving ambulance, fire and highway; $35,000 for bridge repair; $6,500 to survey Brookside Cemetery; $5,000 for Hearse House renovations; and $20,000 for Whiting Library renovations.

Article 5 would allocate $8,649 to the Springfield Regional Development Corp. Articles 6 through 16, totally $33,000, address the safety net organizations that serve area residents. They include:

  • $3,000 for Chester-Andover Family Center.
  • $1,800 for Community Cares Network of Chester and Andover. It helps senior citizens stay in their homes longer.
  • $13,807 for the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice.
  • $3,044 for Health Care and Rehabilitation Services Inc., which supports outpatient, mental health and substance abuse services.
  • $3,040 to Southern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) to aid in emergency needs of the community.
  • $900 to Women’s Freedom Center, for services to women, and their children, experiencing emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse.
  • $2,700 for Meals on Wheels.
  • $2,250 for the Current to provide transit services.
  • $1,200 for Senior Solutions, Council on Aging to serve elders.
  • $800 for Windsor County Partners for youth mentoring and
  • $400 to Green Mountain RSVP to develop opportunities for people 55 and older.

Grafton Town Hall Photo mosaicGrafton mulls sale
of Town Garage

The Town of Grafton will be holding its Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 3 beginning at 10 a.m. at Grafton Elementary School on School Street.

Articles will be addressed and voted on from the floor while election polls are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to a tentative warning, Grafton voters will address a number of budget issues including raising $139,000 for the capital budget fund (Article 4) that includes $100,000 for equipment, $4,000 for the guard rail fund, $10,000 for highway structures, $15,000 for the fire truck fund and $10,000 for the Town Hall fund.

Article 5 would apply $88,654 from the budget surplus toward the Capital Budget Equipment Reserve.

And Article 6 would raise $509,000 for highway and bridge maintenance.

Article 11 Humanitarian expenses – amounts to $9,741 broken down to

  • $674 for the Bellows Falls Senior Center;
  • $600 for Health Care and Rehabilitation Services;
  • $100 for Parks Place;
  • $650 for Senior Solutions;
  • $1,000 for Grafton Cares;
  • $2,300 for the Visiting Nurse Association;
  • $1,052 for Valley Cares;
  • $160 for RSVP;
  • $250 for the Current;
  • $600 for the Women’s Freedom Center;
  • $100 for Youth Services; and
  • $1,500 for Grace Cottage.

Articles 14 through 16 are directed toward selling the current Town Garage property at 778 Route 121 and financing the construction of a new one on town property at 220 Bell Road.

And Articles 17 and 18 are school district appropriations for the Athens/Grafton Joint Contract budget of $1.48 million (K-6) and the Town School District of $977,522 (K-8.)

Details of Weston’s expected warning

Voters in Weston will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 3 at the Weston Playhouse to vote on the following fiscal items from its warning. As of Tuesday, these articles had not been finalized.

Articles 5 through 10 address issues including appropriating $35,000 for the Fire Apparatus Replacement Reserve Fund; $3,500 for the Town Annex Paint Reserve Fund; $4,000 for the Town Annex Building Maintenance Fund; $85,000 for the Equipment Replacement Fund; $75,000 for a Bridge Repair Fund; and $25,000 for paving within the Highway Maintenance Fund. And Article 16 would appropriate $155,000 to go toward replacing the box culvert on Chester Mountain Road.

Articles 11 through 13 would exempt from taxation for five years real estate belonging to each of the following: The Old Parish Church; the Weston Rod & Gun Club; and the Weston Recreation Club.

Articles 14 and 15 have to do with selling two parcels, one 17-acre parcel on Boynton Road, and the other 1.7 acres on Route 155.

Among fiscal requests totaling $69,557 in Article 17 is:

  • $5,000 each for Cold Spring Park – WCA and Farrar Park Association;
  • $500  for the Weston Cemetery Commission;
  • $6,500 for the Weston Recreation Club;
  • $750 for the Weston Conservation Commission;
  • $21,825 for the Weston Volunteer Fire Department;
  • $12,600 for the Wilder Memorial Library;
  • $2,000 for GNAT-TV;
  • $630 for SEVCA;
  • $4,052 for Mountain Valley Medical Clinic;
  • $2,000 for Flood Brook Athletic Association;
  • $50 for Green-Up Vermont;
  • $750 for The Collaborative;
  • $2,000 for Neighborhood Connections;
  • $100 for the Vermont Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired;
  • $230 for the Vermont Center for Independent Living;
  • $990 for the West River Sports Association;
  • $630 for HCRS;
  • $2,350 for the Visiting Nurse Association;
  • $250 for the Current; and
  • $1,600 for Council on Aging – Senior Solutions.

Article 18 seeks $3,600 for two organizations: Londonderry Rescue Squad ($3,000) and Windsor County Youth Services ($600). A third organization — New Beginnings — has a budget line of zero.

Article 19 is for $12,920 for the Planning Commission as it updates the Town Plan. Article 20 could allocate $11,000 to preserve and duplicate certain town records. Articles 21 and 22 are salary allocations for the Town Treasurer ($21,500) and Town Clerk ($16,500); Article 23 sets Select Board compensation at $1,200 each; and Articles 25 and 26  address General Fund operating expenses of $458,608 ($324,516 raised from taxes, $109,855 from non-tax revenues and $24,237 from surplus); and the Highway Fund operating expenditure of $1.028 million (more than half coming from taxes, and $344,270 from non-tax revenues and $166,382 from a surplus.)

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Mary Jane Miles says:

    Australian ballot ditched. I give up on town government. We want to make sure only 100 or less voters on average here get their say and why not? All they do is say yes to spending. Those of us who can’t spend five hours on a school night, forget it. I can see why the tax base is moving out of Chester. You can’t afford to live here.