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Town Meeting: Bradford, Vt., voters increase budget for sidewalk repairs

  • Bradford Town Treasurer Jennifer Rivers hands Moderator Peter Mallary his gavel after running to get it for the start of the Bradford Town Meeting on Tuesday, March, 5, 2019 in Bradford, Vt. Town Clerk Sonya McLam, left, and assistant clerk Jesse Meyer watch. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Members of the Bradford Historical Society Meroa Benjamin, left, Janice Larabee, and Martina Stever give away old town reports dating back to 1887 at Town Meeting in Bradford, Vt., on Tuesday, March, 5, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Donna Wing asks a question about the town report during Town Meeting on Tuesday, March, 5, 2019 in Bradford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 05, 2019

BRADFORD, Vt. — Voters at Town Meeting passed all of more than $2.3 million in proposed spending, amending one article to correct a Selectboard oversight and another to add funding for sidewalk maintenance.

Bradford’s general fund budget was reduced by $100,000, to $1.02 million, after resident Bud Haas pointed out that the budget as proposed in the Town Report failed to include accumulated surplus funding to reduce the amount to be raised by taxes.

Selectboard chairman Ted Unkles — who earlier in the meeting had been reelected, unopposed, to a fifth consecutive three-year term — apologized and said that $100,000 from the surplus should have been allocated.

Haas also spoke up to request an amendment to increase the town highway fund by $25,000, to $966,609, for the purpose of improved sidewalk maintenance. No money was spent on sidewalk repairs by the highway department last year, according to the Town Report, despite cracking problems in several areas of the village. 

Town historian Larry Coffin was one of several who voiced concerns over sidewalk conditions.  

“It’s a safety issue for people to be walking along lifted and broken areas, and it’s not only people from this community that use them, but people from other communities,” Coffin said. “We need to make sure the town doesn’t get sued.”

Greg Garone suggested that instead of raising the highway budget by $25,000, that the sum should be derived from the accumulated surplus. Unkles responded that surplus funding is from the capital improvement fund and designated for specific infrastructure improvement projects and not general maintenance, and that the highway general fund is separate from the town’s.

A motion for the increased budget sum passed by standing vote, 69-23, before the amended article passed on the floor.

Ryan Lockwood became Bradford’s newest member of the Selectboard after being nominated to serve the final year of the departing Lisa Sharp Grady’s three-year seat. Lockwood, 38, is the grocery manager at the town’s Hannaford supermarket and has been attending Selectboard meetings lately “to see what the process is like.”

“I have some volunteer experience with the Rotary Club and the Conservation Commission,” Lockwood said. “I think this will be a good way to build off some of that experience.”

In a contest for town lister, incumbent Vince Pacilio defeated first-time candidate Aaron Johnson by ballot vote, 51-30.

A petitioned article to urge the state of Vermont to halt new or expanded fossil fuel infrastructure also passed on the floor. 

“Vermont can seem isolated from these issues, but there are islands where (inhabitants) can no longer grow food because of salinity levels of the soil from rising sea levels,” said Emily Marsh. “Fifteen thousand scientists came together to issue a dire warning about this.”

Immediately following Town Meeting, the Bradford Water & Sewer Commission’s requests for approval of a $290,552 water budget and $219,307 sewer budget easily passed.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.