Hartland OKs $2.77 Million Budget, Property Sale Near Rec Center

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/6/2018 7:27:45 PM
Modified: 3/7/2018 12:13:42 AM

Hartland — Voters on Tuesday morning approved all items on the warning, including modest increases to the combined general fund and highway budget that pave the way for a 3 cent increase in municipal property taxes.

In balloted voting, Phil Hobbie won a one-year term on the Selectboard, 308-171, over Randy Ashline, and incumbents Mary O’Brien and Martha McGlinn were unopposed for additional terms.

Residents adopted a $2.77 million town budget that is up about $240,000 from the current year, leading to about $75 more in property taxes next year on a $250,000 home.

A separate request to sell town-owned property adjacent to the recreation center was approved, though without an amendment proposed by Selectboard members that would subdivide off a 15-foot strip of land that could allow the town to expand the rec center driveway.

“That option may never be exercised,” Selectboard member Mary O’Brien said, but “this time is an opportunity to preserve that option.”

The town bought the land and family home, located at 21 Route 12, last year for $185,000 in hopes of using some part of it to expand the center’s parking lot, but a committee of residents found the idea infeasible due to complications with the property’s septic system, among other factors.

Citing potential devaluation of the residential land, voters defeated the Selectboard’s amendment and instructed the town to sell the property as is.

During state legislators’ reports, Hartland residents also weighed in on gun safety, a statewide topic after last month’s close call in Fair Haven, Vt., when a young man was accused of plotting a school shooting.

State Sens. Alice Nitka and Alison Clarkson, plus state Reps. John Bartholomew and Paul Belaski, asked how many of those present supported changes to gun laws in response to the incident. Many hands went up in favor, and only a handful were in opposition to any new laws.

Jamison Dunne, a University of Vermont student who described himself as a National Rifle Association member, asked why Vermont needed gun control, given its comparatively high safety statistics.

“We also have been the gold standard for less gun laws and low gun crime,” he said.

Clarkson, a Democrat from Woodstock, said the gun measures under consideration in Montpelier, which include bills to institute universal background checks on private sales and take away firearms from people deemed immediate threats to themselves or others, were “common sense.”

“I think it’s a myth that Vermont is such a safe state,” she said, citing firearms violence in domestic violence and suicide.

In other business, the school budget passed, 357-155, resulting in a little more than $8 million in expenditures in the 2018-19 year.

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