After long school meeting, Andover OKs $834,000 town budget

Andover Select Board chair Red Johnson explains the town budget at Saturday’s Town Meeting. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With about 10 percent of the town’s population in attendance, the Andover Town Meeting on Saturday was – as usual – a well-mannered and friendly affair even though it started 70 minutes later than scheduled due to the school district meeting running over its allotted 15 minutes.

That prompted one voter to ask for a more realistic start time than 10:15 a.m. if there is to be a 10 a.m. School District meeting.

After electing Jon Bliss to another year as moderator, voters moved approval of the Auditors’ Report to the end of the meeting as there were no auditors present and nominated and they elected all the offices on the warning without opposition. (Click here to see Elected Officers chart.)

After firing up the overhead projector, Select Board chair Red Johnson walked the audience through the 2017-2018 town budget of $834,352, of which $675,375 will be raised through taxes. The voters approved the budget as well as the distribution of the 2016-2017 surplus of $72,453 with half going toward the new budget and half going to the town’s Highway and Bridge Fund.

Joe Fromberger, standing, was re-elected to the school board.

During Saturday’s School District meeting, Jon Bliss was re-elected moderator and Joe Fromberger as Town School director. Voters also approved the $27,248 budget by 10:25 but spent the next hour discussing several school topics including Act 46.

Jamie Maloof told the meeting that a small group of volunteers is working on a replacement for the 25-year-old wooden playground at Chester-Andover Elementary School known as The Structure, which is deteriorating and not holding repairs. The group – called Pennies for the Playground – has raised more than $20,000 toward a goal of $100,000 and is looking for volunteers to help with the fundraising.

Hank Mauti, a member of the GMUHS board, decries the school’s transgender bathroom policy.

Hank Mauti complained about the bathroom policy for transgender students adopted by Green Mountain Union High School last spring saying, “Those who don’t know who they are can go to the questionable bathroom.”

Mauti also noted that the school reports no longer have to print performance data like test scores. He quoted SchoolDigger.com, which lists Green Mountain as No. 40 out of 59 schools in Vermont, saying that was “unacceptable for the money we are paying.”

“You can have the best computers on the planet and the fanciest uniforms, but nothing between the ears,” said Mauti.

Fromberger and Two Rivers Supervisory Union business manager Chris Adams fielded questions on Act 46, the school consolidation legislation passed in the spring of 2015. They explained the process and the proposed Regional Education District, noting that there would be informational meetings ahead of the May 2 vote.

Susan Leader asked about the implications of voting down the Regional Education District.

Susan Leader asked if voting the RED down would result in school choice for Andover. Fromberger said that that could only happen if the GMUHS towns all voted to dissolve the union, but that would not be part of this vote. Gordon Payne objected to using population to determine the representation on the RED board, preferring instead that it be based on education taxes paid by the towns.

Carmen Macchia asked if the addition of Black River students to Green Mountain would add a substantial financial boost, but Adams explained that Ludlow and Mt. Holly have not decided what to do yet and may or may not join the RED at a later date.

At the end of the Town Meeting (and before lunch), Sherri Willumitis thanked the town for its support of the Chester-Andover Family Center. Then Andover Fire Warden Alan Plumb said that the Chester Fire Warden said that someone has been telling people that the Chester Warden is an alternate for Andover.  Plumb said that this is not the case and that anyone wanting to burn should contact him.

Andover Ridge Road resident Ray Mikul asked the town to look into new arrangements for fire protection and rescue. He noted that insurance companies rate being 15 miles from the Chester Fire Station the same as having no fire protection at all.

Select Board member Jean Peters, speaking on behalf of Just Neighbors, noted that the phone number printed in the town report was incorrect and in fact was her home number. The correct number is 875-1225. Finally, Macchia asked people to consider helping with Andover Day. A flier on each of the chairs in Town Hall asked prospective volunteers to contact Deb Moser at 875-5454 or dmoser6468@gmail.com.

Next year’s Town Meeting was approved to be held on Saturday, March 6, 2018.

Andover's 2017 Elected Officials

Position
Term Official
Town Clerk 3 yearsJeanette Haight
Treasurer
1 yearJeanette Haight
Select Board
3 years Mark Gordon
Select Board
1 yearHarold “Red” Johnson
Select Board 1 yearChris Plumb
Lister 3 yearsFrancesca Salazar
Tax Collector 1 yearJeanette Haight
Constable
1 yearAl Peters
Agent to Prosecute Suits1 yearJon Bliss
Sexton
1 yearHank Mauti
Cemetery Commission 3 yearsNick Baker
Auditor3 yearsBill Jessup

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About the Author: Shawn Cunningham has written a number of subjects -- from food and wine to film, history, politics, zoning and development -- for the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, Museum News, The Westsider, The Chelsea/Clinton News, Menckeniana, Films in Review and the East Village Eye.

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  1. Francesca Salazar says:

    Correction: Jeanette Haight was voted in for Tax Collector.
    Bill Jessup was voted in for Auditor.

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