Budget passes at relocated Andover Town Meeting

Select Board member Harold Johnson carries documents to the emergency venue for Andover Town Meeting, across the street from Town Hall, in the background. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

Select Board member Harold Johnson carries documents to the emergency venue for Andover Town Meeting, across the street from Town Hall, in the background. Click photo to launch gallery. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

Failure of the Town Hall heating system forced the Andover Town Meeting to be moved to a hall at the Andover Community Church across the street, resulting in a standing room only crowd and prompting a joke from moderator Jon Bliss about the separation of church and state.

Despite the smaller space, it was warm inside and sunny outside on Saturday morning, and the 70-plus Andover voters and their children seemed in good spirits and ready to address a slew of issues.

Two offices were contested. A three-year term on the Green Mountain Union High School Board of Education, held by Henry Mauti, was challenged by former board member Bill Bourque, who lost 33 to 34 following balloting. A recount was called after one resident called attention to the fact that the justices of the peace reported that 79 people voted but actual numbers added up to only 69 votes. (Two ballots were left blank.) The actual number of people casting ballots was confirmed as 69.

Constable Mel Donaton lost his bid for re-election.

Constable Mel Donaton lost his bid for re-election.

Then newcomer Al Peters beat out incumbent constable Mel Donaton for that one-year post, 35 to 25 votes with 60 people voting. Two duties of the constable are to capture stray animals and take them to Springfield Humane Society and to escort disruptive people from Town Meeting under orders of the town moderator.

Andover voters also agreed to apply a surplus of $33,179 from the 2014-2015 budget to the 2015-2016 budget, which it passed with expenditures of $762,297 and agreeing to hike the property tax rate by 3 cents to 37 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Prior to the budget votes, Select Board member Harold “Red” Johnson gave a presentation on past and current capital and general funds for the Town of Andover. In 2014-2015, income amounted to $810,525, with expenses of $777,345, creating the $33,179 surplus that will be carried over to the 2015-16 fiscal year. Mauti asked if some of the surplus might be put toward fixing the finicky heat in the Town Hall meeting room. Johnson answered that the town was looking into that and that there was money in the budget for it.

Total projected highway expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year are $212,425, with no major equipment purchases expected but with the majority of the fund going to roads maintenance materials such as salts ($45,000), sand ($19,000) gravel ($15,000), Shur-Pac ($10,000) and other things.

Superintendent Bruce Williams speaks to the voters.

Superintendent Bruce Williams speaks to the voters.

In other school-related votes, Sherry Willumitus was re-elected to another three-year term on Town School Board of Directors and Monica Olesky was re-elected to a three-year term on the Chester-Andover Elementary School Board. The Town School budget of $18,828 which are local expenses for special education, was approved. Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Bruce Williams traveled from his home in Norwich to speak with Andover voters about state mandates governing the supervisory union’s control over school transportation finances and the intention of GMUHS to set up a fund to purchase its own fleet of buses instead of leasing them. That plan would set aside some of the savings realized from a new bus lease each year until the school can buy a fleet of buses. It is article number three on the GMUHS  ballot.

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

JPs taking during balloting

Justices of the Peace oversee ballotting.

In other votes, Jon Bliss was re-elected town moderator, Linda Bargfrede was re-elected treasurer and tax collector; Select Board incumbents Jean Peters and Chris Plumb were re-elected for a three-year and one-year term respectively; and Barry Williams was elected to a one-year term held by John Yake, who did not seek re-election. Bill Bourque withdrew his name from nomination for that seat. John Ryan was elected lister for a three-year term; Mark Bodin was chosen auditor, also for three years and Jon Bliss was elected to agent to prosecute suits for one year. And, proving that it is wise to attend Town Meeting, an absent Andy Hill was elected Sexton and Cemetery Commissioner.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has 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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