Town Meeting Day 2018: Make Your Vote Count

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Thursday March 01, 2018

Town Meeting Day is an annual tradition in the Green Mountain State that affords citizens direct involvement in their local government. Prior to voting March 6, the South Burlington City Council and the South Burlington School District host a Pre-Town Meeting Monday, March 5, beginning at 7 p.m. at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School, 500 Dorset Street. An opportunity for voters to be informed about each ballot item prior to voting day, the Pre-Town Meeting reviews both school district and city ballot items.

In regard to city government, this year’s ballot presents four articles. They include election of city councilors and the city clerk, the city’s proposed budget, approval of a bond for wastewater infrastructure improvements, and whether the city of South Burlington should enter into an agreement for the formation of a regional public safety dispatch services.

Regarding the school district, the ballot includes three articles for voters to consider. They include election of school directors, the proposed school budget, and a capital improvement bond.

The March 5 Pre-Town Meeting and public hearing includes time for discussion with both the city council and the school board members, regarding their budgets. In addition, there will be candidate forums for all open seats. The evening is scheduled in segments as follows.

7 p.m. School Budget Presentation and Discussion

The school board is seeking the approval of the proposed FY19 school budget totaling $49,686,166. This represents a 0.85 percent budget increase over FY 2018 and a 1.96 percent tax increase. Prior to income sensitivity considerations, the owner of a single family home valued at the average price of $336,110 will see a $104 annual increase, while the owner of a condo at the average price of $231,356 will see a $71 annual tax increase.

The ballot for this item reads, “It is estimated that this proposed budget, if approved, will result in education spending of $14,977.68 per equalized pupil.” It further states this projected spending per equalized pupil is 2.75 percent lower than spending for the current year.

Regarding school ballot item Article III, the capital improvement bond issue, voters will consider incurring bond indebtedness to finance capital improvements, renovations and improvements to the schools and facilities of the South Burlington School District at an estimated total project cost of $950,500. The ballot notes that zero percent of the project costs will be eligible for state school construction aid. According to the district, the proposed capital improvements include a restroom facility at the Munson Field, funds to re-fit the high school library after the exit of the city library from the building, and a range of roofing, lighting, flooring, security and fire alarm upgrades to each school.

7:30 p.m. City Budget Presentation and Discussion

Article II asks voters to weigh in on the city’s proposed budget of $53,392,056. The ballot states that $15,272,174 of the budget figure will be raised by local property taxes. The proposed budget, as approved by the city council, includes an increase of 3.84 percent in the tax rate or $673,819 over last year. The impact of the proposed tax increase on the owner of a single family home valued at the average price of $336,110, is $64 per year and for the owner of an average priced condo, valued at $231,356, an increase of $44 per year.

The city’s Article III on the ballot is a $2.98 million bond for the purpose of funding public wastewater infrastructure improvements that include new precast concrete pump stations and gravity sewer and ductile iron force main piping to the Bartlett Bay wastewater treatment facility.

Article IV on the city ballot ask voters if the City of South Burlington should enter into an agreement for the formation of a Union Municipal District known as the Chittenden Country Public Safety Authority for the purpose of providing regional emergency dispatch. Six neighboring cities and towns will also be voting on this item.

8 p.m. City Council Candidate Forum

Regarding Article I, two city council incumbents are running unopposed to retain their seats on the council. City Council Chair Helen Riehle, who has served on the council for six years, is unchallenged in her bid for a third term in the three-year open seat. Meaghan Emery, the council vice-chair, is unopposed as she runs for a fifth term in the two-year seat.

Donna Kinville is seeking reelection as South Burlington City Clerk. Kinville, who is uncontested in her bid for the position, has served in this role for 17 years.

8:45 p.m. School Board Candidate Forum

In Article I, five candidates will vie for two open seats on the school board. Two opponents, Michael Rozzi and Tyler Samler, are challenging incumbent Bridget Burkhardt for election to the two-year seat. For the three-year seat, Laura Williams is running against Elizabeth Fitzgerald, school board member of 12 years and the current chair.

For those who cannot attend the March 5 Pre-Town Meeting, previous candidate debates and budget presentations are available on Channel 17 or online at cctv.org. In addition, visit the city website at www.southburlingtonvt.gov, and the school district website at www.sbschools.net, to view the city’s Annual Budget Book, the fiscal year 2019 budgets, and more information about the ballot items. Copies of the budget book are available at City Hall and in the superintendent’s office.

Early voting is available through 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 5, at City Hall. Contact the city clerk’s office at 802-846-4105 for details. Polls are open for voting Tuesday, March 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent