Newport Again Backs Budget
Newport — In all-day balloting at yesterday’s Town Meeting, voters approved the town budget, purchase of a new ambulance and $250,000 for road repairs.
They also approved the school budget and contracts for teachers and support staff in revotes forced after officials botched the school vote in March.
A judge last month ordered the district to vote again on Articles 3-10 after a resident complained that the final version of the warrant wasn’t made available at least a week before the March 12 vote.
The only article to fail on the town warrant was an effort to return to the traditional Town Meeting format and rescind the provisions of SB2, which were adopted in 2007. The article, which needed 60 percent, failed to gain a simple majority with 343 yes and 396 no.
On the school side, some results did change on account of the revote. Article 6, which would have allowed the district to retain a percentage of any surplus at the end of the fiscal year and use it to lower the tax rate or for emergencies approved by the Department of Education, lost 479-250. In March, it was approved 338-271.
Articles 7, 8 and 9, which would have taken budget surpluses and placed them in reserve funds for transportation, unanticipated education expenses and school renovation all lost by wide margins. Article 7 was only for a dollar, but it lost 397-339. The other two articles were for $100,000 each and lost 524-210 and 482-228, respectively.
In March, the ballot incorrectly listed the amounts under article 7 and article 8 .
Article 10, $10,000 to be put in the capital reserve fund for the purchase of an athletic field, was approved 406-301.
The proposed school budget of $17.8 million passed 612-127. The one-year teachers’ contract was approved 427-312 and one-year support staff contract passed 441-297. All three were approved in March by comfortable margins.
The town budget of $8.7 million passed 399-345, and the purchase of a new ambulance, which needed a 60 percent approval, passed with a 65 percent majority, 485-258.
The $250,000 to make repairs on about a dozen paved roads in article 8 was approved 409-330.
Also approved were: $82,000 for town hall repairs; property tax exemption for the disabled; $5,000 for the Community Alliance for Human Services for its transportation and family services programs; two zoning articles, one of which adopts the state building code and the other which amends the zoning ordinance on accessory apartments; and an advisory article that “encourages” the Selectboard and all land use boards to audio and video record meetings for public broadcast, either live or delayed.
Incumbent Selectboard members Jeff Kessler and Gary Nichols were re-elected in uncontested races.
The school ballot was voted on a second time after resident Bert Spaulding Sr. successfully argued before a Superior Court judge that the district violated the law because it did not make the amended school warrant available one week prior to the March vote. Elections of School Board members and school district officers did not have to be voted on a second time.
Based on yesterday’s results, the town tax rate is projected to increase 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation and the school rate decrease by 8 cents.
If those figures hold up, town and school taxes combined would increase $62 on a property assessed at $200,000.
Turnout was nearly 21 percent, or 750 of the town’s 3,629 registered voters.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at email@example.com.