Warning Ready For Windsor Vote

Voting on the Windsor Town and School Warnings will be by Australian ballot on Tuesday, March 4, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Windsor Municipal Building. It follows an informational meeting to be held Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at the Windsor High School auditorium.

Windsor — A contested Selectboard race and town and school budgets are the main decisions voters will make at this year’s Town Meeting vote on March 4.

The proposed school budget of $9.4 million represents an increase of $283,000, or 3 percent, from the current year’s. It is the only appropriation request on the school warning.

If approved as recommended, the new budget would raise the homestead education tax rate nearly 7 cents to almost $1.46 per $100 of valuation.

That translates to an additional $133 in annual school taxes for a property assessed at $200,000.

School Board Chairwoman Amy McMullen, who is running uncontested for another term, said the board, unlike last year, made no staff reductions in the budget.

“We had enough of those last year. That was painful,” McMullen said referring to the 12 positions that were eliminated.

McMullen said the increase in spending for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014, is spread across the budget and includes wage and benefits for teachers and an increase in teaching time for some classes including science at the high school and theater.

“The rest is just a lot of bits and pieces,” McMullen said about the increase.

“It is definitely a budget that deserves the support of the voters,” she said. “All the teachers and administrators looked carefully at the spending. There is no fluff in this budget. We believe we are at the right size for what we need.”

Also part of the increase is Windsor’s share of the supervisory union budget which includes West Windsor and Weathersfield. Windsor’s assessment went up $83,000, said Ed Connors, chief financial officers of the supervisory union, adding that much of that was for special education.

Incumbents Sherrie Greeley and Randall Rupp are also unopposed for their School Board seats.

The town is proposing an operating budget of almost $4.3 million, which is up just $37,000 or less than 1 percent from this year’s operating figure. The overall budget is down $274,000 because there is no capital spending for next year. Last year, $310,000 was approved for capital projects.

Town officials continue to work through the process with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund repairs to Brook Road, which was washed out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Town Manager Tom Marsh said he believes the town will receive enough money to fix damage at the eastern end of Brook Road from Estey Lane to Route 44 and have some remaining money for other capital projects as is permitted under FEMA regulations.

Marsh added there seems to be no interest in fixing the western portion of Brook Road that was washed out in the storm.

“We should have enough money from FEMA to fund capital projects (next year) without affecting the tax rate,” Marsh said.

If voters approve the budget along with 11 special appropriations totaling $124,000 — the same as last year — the town tax rate is estimated to increase about 4 cents, or 3.4, percent to $1.20 per $100 of assessed valuation. The increase would add $80 in town taxes to a home assessed at $200,000.

Among the special appropriations are $68,500 for the library, about $17,000 for Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire and $12,500 for Historic Homes of Runnemede.

Marsh said a decrease in nontax revenues, including grants and the ambulance department, are partially to blame for the tax increase but officials held the increase down by not adding capital funding.

Also on the warning is an article seeking $3 million in bond authorization for road, sidewalk and drainage work.

Marsh explained this is not a $3 million bond request but rather it would give the town the authority to draw against the fund incrementally over a period of five to 10 years, similar to a line of credit.

“We can pull against that authority and prioritize each year,” Marsh explained. “This will allow us to catch up (on infrastructure repairs).”

In the only contested race, former Selectboard member Justin Ciccarelli, Thomas Dunn and Michael McNaughton are running for the three-year seat now held by John Tansey, who is not seeking re-election.

Ciccarelli, 39, works at Dartmouth College in safety and security. He was on the board from 2007 until last fall when he moved out of town for a short while.

“I enjoy it,” Ciccarelli said about being on the board. “I think we have done some good things and Windsor is in a different place than it was in 2007.

“We have a great town manager who is proactive and can run the town so the board does not need to micromanage.”

Ciccarelli said there are big decisions ahead on the dam at Kennedy Pond and Brook Road and he wants to be part of the discussion.

“I think I can contribute in a positive way,” he said.

McNaughton, 24, is an information technology specialist at Mascoma Bank.

“I decided to run because I have been here all my life and I see a lot of people moving out of town,” McNaughton said. “I think we are on an upswing and it is my time to get involved.”

McNaughton said fiscal responsibility and maintaining the town infrastructure and priorities for him.

Dunn, 50, works at the Windsor Station restaurant.

“Basically I am running so I can get more information to the people,” said Dunn, who used to have a show on Windsor On Air that talked about businesses and events in town. “I don’t have one particular issue. I just want to make the best decisions for the town and look out for the interest of all Windsor residents.”

Jeff White is running unopposed for his three-year Selectboard seat.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.