Woodstock to Vote On Staff, Library

Friday, February 12, 2016
Woodstock’s Town Meeting will take place on Saturday, Feb. 27, starting at 10 a.m. at Woodstock Town Hall. Voting on Australian ballot items will occur on Tuesday, March 1, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Woodstock — Voters will consider a municipal budget, reducing the number of constables to one from two, and a measure to help the Norman Williams Public Library during Town Meeting later this month.

The budget proposed by the Selectboard is almost $4.9 million, up from $4.7 million in the current year; the amount that would be raised from taxation would increase by about $109,000, or 3.5 percent, to $3.2 million, according to Municipal Manager Phil Swanson, who called it a “maintenance budget.”

Because Woodstock is in the middle of a townwide revaluation, the impact on the tax rate, currently 40.6 cents per $100 of valuation, cannot be calculated, Swanson said.

The budget of the Village of Woodstock will be flat and will not lead to an increase in t he tax rate, Swanson said.

Of the $109,000 in new spending, Swanson said, about $61,000 is needed to make the first payment on a bond taken to pay for the town’s share of projects that were needed to repair damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.

Also on the warning is a proposal to do away with the position of second constable in Woodstock; the scope of duties for town constables has been narrowed by the state, Swanson said, so that they now are limited to jobs including animal control, traffic control, and the serving of civil process papers.

One of the two constables in Woodstock died last year, and Swanson said the remaining constable “has done the job single-handed, and it didn’t seem like we had a need for a second constable.”

Because the change would not take effect until 2017, voters still will be asked to elect two constables for the upcoming year.

Town Meeting voters also will bid farewell to Bruce Gould, who is not seeking re-election to the Selectboard after 12 years of service.

“It’s time,” Gould said. “I’m 75, and my wife and I want to start to travel. ... It’s time for somebody else.”

Gould also spent 27 years as town moderator.

Former Woodstock Fire Chief Butch Sutherland is running unopposed for Gould’s seat; Selectboard member John Doten, who is seeking re-election, also is unopposed.

Also on the warning is a measure that would excuse the library from paying property taxes on its parking lot, which it rents out to produce a revenue stream. Swanson said the impact of the measure, which would involve the town not only forgoing municipal property taxes but also assuming responsibility for the parking lot’s school property taxes, would amount to a total of a few thousand dollars.

The Australian ballot portion of voting will include an initiative to borrow up to $100,000 to build an addition to the Welcome Center; Swanson said the amount would be entirely recouped from the Chamber of Commerce, which will rent the space.

The budget for Woodstock Elementary School will be presented to voters on the floor during the Feb. 27 meeting, while the budget for the Woodstock Union High School will be voted on by Australian ballot on March 1.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at mhonghet@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.

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