Windsor Informational Meeting Yields Little Spending Debate

Windsor — No one was much in the mood to argue at Monday night’s informational meeting in Windsor, despite the fact voters have a contested Selectboard race and slight increases in the town and school budgets to consider in today’s Town Meeting vote.

More than 50 voters showed up at Windsor High School for the informational meeting to discuss the 2014 warning articles.

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

If approved as recommended, the new budget would raise the residential 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 Vice Chairman Carl Malikowski said the uptick in the budget was due to several factors including increases in wages as well as health insurance and fuel costs.

Further, he said, dwindling state and federal funds mean district officials have to pay for previously grant-funded programs out of district coffers.

And finally, Windsor’s share of the supervisory union budget which includes West Windsor, Hartland and Weathersfield went up $83,000, much of that for special education.

Only one voter stood up to tell the board it was better to live within its means. The other speakers had nothing but praise for the board and school officials and stood up mainly to tell them they’d done a great job.

School Board Chairwoman Amy McMullen as well as incumbents Sherrie Greeley and Randall Rupp are running unopposed for their School Board seats.

Meanwhile, 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. Overall municipal spending would decrease $274,000 because there is no capital spending for next year. Last year, $310,000 was approved for capital projects.

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 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.

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

“This does not to give us carte blanche to spend,” said Town Manager Tom Marsh. “But it essentially gives us a line of credit to get them done sooner.”

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.

Voting will be by Australian ballot today from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Windsor Municipal Building.