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Fairlee residents sail through Town Meeting

  • Sisters Carol Colby, center, and Ellen Bagley, right, sit with their mother Grace Bagley in the Fairlee Town Hall before the start of Town Meeting. Elizabeth Wilson, left, co-founder and treasure of Fairlee Community Arts was volunteering at the meeting and was outfitting Grace Bagley with a hearing device for the meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Fairlee, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Abigail Hood with her daughter Elise Mohr, checks in at the Fairlee Town Meeting with Horace Palmer III and Larry Martin on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/3/2020 3:52:56 PM
Modified: 3/3/2020 5:22:12 PM

FAIRLEE — Residents made quick work of Fairlee’s warning on Tuesday, approving a more than $1.2 million budget and other spending articles with little discussion in roughly an hour.

The budget, which was approved by a voice vote, amounts to a $114,311, or roughly 10%, increase over the current year’s spending plan.

Officials say the budget, combined with other spending articles, will increase the municipal tax rate by 2 cents per $100 of valuation, to just over 60 cents.

That would result in an additional $50 in taxes for a home valued at $250,000.

Officials spent an “awful lot of time” crafting the budget but found it difficult to identify cuts, according to Selectboard member Cathy McGrath.

If someone were to propose a budget reduction, “I don’t know where we’d find the money,” she warned.

“We really take the budget very seriously because, in many ways, that defines the Selectboard’s mission for the next few years,” McGrath said.

However, former Fairlee auditor Larry Martin worried that taxes could soon become unaffordable to many residents.

“I’m getting kind of concerned about the amount of money we’re spending,” he said. “I just hope we can kind of keep things under control a little bit more.”

Residents also approved a $278,300 highway budget and more than $71,100 in funding to nonprofits and outside agencies.

A warning article reducing the terms of Recreation Council members to three years won unanimous approval as well.

“The feeling of the (Selectboard) was that getting five years for a term seems to be a big ask for folks to dedicate that much time,” said Selectboard Chairman Peter Berger.

No town positions were contested from the floor on Tuesday. McGrath won another three-year seat on the Selectboard, while Town Treasurer Lisa Hinsley won a voice vote for another three-year term.

Elizabeth Wilson was elected to the Budget Committee, and Sarah Berger, Calista Diane and Rob Chapin won seats on the Planning Commission.

Tim Camerato can be reached at or 603-727-3223.

Valley News

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