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Town Meeting preview: Layton, Smith square off for seat in Norwich

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/15/2021 7:23:10 PM
Modified: 2/15/2021 7:23:08 PM

NORWICH — Voters in Norwich will decide a contested Selectboard race during Australian ballot voting next month.

Two people are running for a three-year seat on the board. Incumbent Mary Layton, seeking a third term, will face off against Pamela Smith, a lister, trustee of the public funds and former member of the Norwich Finance Committee.

Four of the Finance Committee’s five appointed members, including Smith, resigned last month in protest, saying the Selectboard ignored their input.

In a post to the town’s Listserv, Layton said she’d like to continue serving on Norwich’s Childcare Committee, which is exploring ways to help parents pay for early childhood education. She also hopes to improve Norwich’s sidewalk network, reduce the town’s use of fossil fuels and develop more affordable housing.

Meanwhile, Smith is running on a platform of “accountability, due diligence, transparency and long-term planning.” Her goals are to audit Norwich’s solar contract for savings, invest in town-owned arrays and an environmentally-friendly fleet of vehicles.

Marcia Calloway, associate director of the Dartmouth College office of visa and immigration services, is running unopposed for a two-year seat on the Selectboard held by outgoing board member John Langhus.


The Selectboard is proposing a $4.78 million spending plan for the 2020 fiscal year, a 6.4% increase over the town’s current budget.

If it’s approved, the budget is estimated to result in an additional $303 in taxes for a property valued at $500,000, according to Selectboard Vice Chairman Roger Arnold.

He said on Monday that the operating budget, which consists of salaries and benefits, is growing by about 3% because of fixed costs such as insurance and pension payments. The Selectboard, Arnold said, also plans to continue funding a full-time finance director position, a post officials are actively looking to fill.

Designated funds, which pay for infrastructure and other projects, will see a roughly $117,000 increase that’s intended to help maintain bridges and culverts. On top of that, Norwich plans to upgrade its technology in the wake of a 2019 email scam.

Noteworthy articles

Norwich voters will be asked to join six Upper Valley communities that banded together last year to hire a regional energy coordinator.

An article on the town ballot asks for just over $30,000 to cover Norwich’s contribution for the position, which cost about $116,000 last year.

The job — held by former Hartford coordinator Geoff Martin — currently assists Barnard, Fairlee, Thetford, Sharon, Strafford and Woodstock as they plan for projects and seek grants. Norwich had initially agreed to participate but was dropped from the collaboration last summer over disagreements with the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, which oversees the coordinator job.

When and where

The town’s discussion meeting will be held on Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. A link can be found at

Australian ballot voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, at Tracy Hall. Absentee ballots can be requested by calling the town clerk’s office at 802-649-1419.

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

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