Barnard Town, School Budgets OK’d; Incumbents Win Re-election
Town Clerk Diane Rainey swears in (from left) Lister Lois Ressigue, Cemetery Commissioner Phil Lewis, Second Constable Wes Hinnig, Library Trustees Anne Jacobs and Susan Hickey and Selectman Tim Johnson at the end of the Barnard Town Meeting yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Dean Edmunds encourages his daughter Baiah, 3, to go sit with her grandmother as she shyly peeks at other Barnard residents at Barnard Town Meeting at Town Hall yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Selectman Rock Webster, left, Wes Hennig, Town Clerk Diane Rainey and Selectman Tim Johnson count votes after ballots were cast for town auditor. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Barnard — Barnard voters approved all spending articles, yesterday, including the town and school budgets.
The town’s proposed $1.82 million budget is a 55 percent increase from the $1.18 million budget approved last year. The tax impact, however, is expected to be less severe, said Selectboard Chairman Tom Morse.
Factoring in all the spending articles approved yesterday, including a $15,000 feasibility study for the construction of a fire station, taxpayers will support an additional $98,562 in expenditures next year, a 15 percent increase over the current year.
Barnard is reappraising its property values this year, so the exact tax impact is not certain.
Morse also mentioned some promising financial news for the town, telling the crowd of more than 100 residents that an audit has shown a sizable surplus.
However, he would not say the exact amount of the surplus because he wanted to better understand how the town achieved its savings.
“We don’t suspect something is wrong,” Morse said of the audit. “We suspect we don’t get it.”
The $1.05 million school budget passed yesterday was split into two parts — “Part A” for the bulk of the spending and “Part B” for the $6,658 remainder. The reason for this is a state law that was intended to call attention to districts where education spending was rising faster than the state deemed necessary.
The room of roughly 70 voters who attended the afternoon school meeting overwhelmingly approved the budget, which represents a 1.9 percent increase, but not until after some discussion about the rise in school spending.
Resident Gilles Bussod said his personal income had fallen significantly since the financial crash of 2008. He supported the school district, but wondered if officials took into account the financial situations of taxpayers when setting the budget.
“Are there any checks and balances on the sustainability of this system?” Bussod asked.
School Board Chairman David Green said 90 percent of the school budget is personnel costs. While he sympathized with the financial burden on taxpayers, he said the school district could not consider cuts without reducing staff.
“We’re trying to maintain the school and quality of education, but to do that we have to maintain a certain level of services in the school,” Green said.
All other town and school articles passed. Tim Johnson won his bid for re-election to the Selectboard, winning in a voice vote against challenger Robert Edmunds. Peter Sullivan was re-elected auditor, garnering 59 votes in a ballot decision to challenger Gerald Fredrickson’s 41 votes. Jackie French was elected to a three-year term on the School Board. She replaces Kurt Lessard, who did not seek re-election. John Snyder was elected to serve the remaining year left on Corinna Dooley’s three-year seat on the Woodstock Union High School Board. Dooley had to step down after taking a job in the district, said fellow high school director Dwight Doton.
A caption for a photograph associated with this story has been amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction appeared in the Saturday, March 9 edition of the Valley News:
Barnard Town Clerk Diane Rainey was shown swearing in Lister Lois Ressigue, Cemetery Comissioner Phil Lewis, Second Constable Wes Hinnig, Library trustees Anne Jacobs and Susan Hickey and Selectman Tim Johnson in a photograph on the front page of Wednesday's Valley News. The officeholders' positions were misidentified in the caption.