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Hartland Voters Consider Property



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hartland’s annual School District Meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 at Damon Hall. Voting for Town Meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on March 6 at Damon Hall to act on nine articles. Voting by Australian ballot on the school warning and to elect school and town officials will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Hartland — Come Town Meeting Day in March, voters will be asked to amend an article on the warning that the Selectboard no longer recommends, and also to approve a school budget that cuts a few positions but adds some others.

The current article asks voters to approve of the town selling the one-family home at 21 Route 12 as is. If the article is amended and approved, a small portion of the property would go to the abutting recreation center prior to selling the rest of the property. Voters at Town Meeting last year gave their approval to purchase the property, which could have gone up for tax sale, for no more than $180,000.

“The little wrinkle, the little hiccup here is that ... the article had to go out by a certain date, and that recommendation was before (the Selectboard) had all the pertinent information,” Town Manager and Selectboard Chairman David Ormiston said. “This way, the rec center would be able to use that for something in the future.”

Residents also will vote on a proposed municipal budget of a little under $2.8 million — up about $240,000 from last year, which Ormiston attributed in part to the need for routine maintenance of town buildings, including a new library roof.

If approved, almost $2 million of the budget would be raised by taxes, and the municipal tax rate would be 47 cents per $100 of valuation, a 3 cent increase. That translates to a $75 increase for a $250,000 home.

“Obviously, these increases are never a source of jubilation,” Ormiston said, but “if (voters) see that ... the money will be properly used, I hope they feel good about it.”

Other appropriations include $63,000 requested by the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department, down $250 from last year, and $14,500 requested by the Hartland Rescue Squad, down $2,000 from last year.

Voters also will be asked to appropriate about $40,000 to support social service organizations, including Visiting Nurse and Hospice, Community Nurse Program and Hartford Community Connections, a youth-focused community service nonprofit.

Hartland’s proposed school budget for the 2018-19 school year is a little over $8 million, down from $8.1 million in the current school year. School Board Chairwoman Bettina Read attributed this slight decrease to renegotiations in health benefits, and staff cuts made in response to a lower education fund yield, which is expected to increase tax rates by about 7 cents after staffing adjustments, or an additional $175 in school taxes on a $250,000 home.

The cuts will include a classroom teacher, two interventionists, a regular education paraprofessional and an English language coach.

But the budget also would add a K-5 world language teacher and make the library media specialist full time, Read said.

Hartland residents also will be watching an Australian ballot vote in Windsor and West Windsor.

After years of debating how to comply with Act 46, Vermont’s school consolidation law, voters in those two towns will be asked to OK a so-called alternative governance structure that could allow Hartland to remain a standalone district in Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union, and retain high school choice.

Randy Ashline will run against Phil Hobbie for a one-year term on the Selectboard. Incumbents Mary O’Brien and Martha McGlinn are running unopposed for another term.

Library Trustee Colleen Lannon will run against Sarah Bruce for the three-year position. On the school side, Elizabeth Ray and Sarah Stewart Taylor are running for open seats on the School Board.

EmmaJean Holley can be reached at ejholley@vnews.com or 603-727-3126.

Correction

Hartland’s proposed municipal bud get would increase about $240,000, to a little under $2.8 million, if approved at Town Meeting. An earlier version of this story overstated the size of the increase.