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Royalton Voters Boost Funding for Food Shelf

  • As his sister Emma, 5, and and brother Gabriel, 3, play a phone game with their father Andrew Jones, Tyler Jones, 8 (upper center) longingly watches (from bottom left) Torin Regney, 10, Sawyer Morrill-Cornelius, 9, and Andrew Champagne, 10, play phone games during the Royalton town meeting at South Royalton School in South Royalton, Vt., on March 6, 2018. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • Royalton resident Jim Hudson inquires about the town's law enforcement budget in contrast to the recent vacancies in the police force during the Royalton town meeting at South Royalton School in South Royalton, Vt., on March 6, 2018. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • Christine Hudson asks a question about the town food shelf during the Royalton town meeting at South Royalton School in South Royalton, Vt., on March 6, 2018. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • Royalton residents vote on an article during the Royalton town meeting at South Royalton School in South Royalton, Vt., on March 6, 2018. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • Royalton resident Harry Dodge uses extra chairs as a resting spot while listening to the Royalton town meeting at South Royalton School in South Royalton, Vt., on March 6, 2018. (Sarah Priestap photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

South Royalton — Voters approved all spending articles at Town Meeting on Tuesday morning, even adding money to a requested appropriation for the town’s food shelf. The $4,000 addition to the food shelf’s request brought that item up to $10,000.

“This seems like a really worthy program,” said Jim Hudson, who made the motion for the addition.

Voters also approved the $1.19 million general fund expenditures as proposed, though they declined an amendment that would have added $500 to increase the pay for volunteers who serve as ballot clerks for elections.

As it turned out, the proposed general fund already included money to increase volunteers’ pay.

“We have the dollars in the town budget that you are voting on,” said Selectboard member Tim Dreisbach.

Though a recent vote of the Board of Civil Authority would not increase payments to ballot clerks who assist with the town’s elections, he said, the issue could be raised again at a BCA meeting.

Voters on Tuesday also approved $942,600 for the highway fund, of which $647,600 will be raised from taxes.

Overall, taxes to be raised are up $21,000, said Selectboard Chairman Larry Trottier. Part of the increase is for the police budget, in order to attract a candidate to the open chief position, he said.

Voters also approved spending $319,165 for Royalton organizations and a total of $25,324 for regional social service organizations.

In a separate article, voters approved a new appropriation of $1,000 for Health Hub, which operates a clinic that provides medical, dental and mental health services at the South Royalton School. Dr. Becky Foulk, the clinic’s medical director, said the appropriation will primarily go to support adult dental services, which the program began offering last year. Many of the adults served do not have insurance, Foulk said at the meeting.

During other business, community members reflected on the events of the past year, which included the shooting death of a South Royalton resident on Sunday and the departures and arrests of the school principal and a town police officer.

“This past year there’s been a lot of stuff that’s happened in Royalton,” said Christine Hudson. “We have to start to do something as a community to help our community when it comes to mental health and the problems that we face.”

Selectboard member Sandy Conrad acknowledged Hudson’s concerns and said she and the rest of the board share them.

Conrad said the board hopes that, by improving the pay for police chief position, which a search committee is trying to fill, and by working with community partners, they can “try to find ways to improve what’s going on in this community.”

As a start, Conrad said, she was looking forward to an event called a “Community Thaw,” to be hosted jointly with the town of Bethel and held on the South Royalton Green on Friday. The event, which will run from 5:30-8 p.m. will include food, music and games.

With 175 votes, Conrad beat out challenger Harry Dodge, who earned 129 votes, to keep her two-year  Selectboard seat.