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Town Meeting preview: Woodstock voters to take on budget, rough roads



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Town Meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 2, in the Town Hall Theatre. Voting by Australian ballot will take place on from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, at the Town Hall Theatre. The Windsor Central Modified Unified Union School District meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 11, in the Teagle Library at the Woodstock High School & Middle School.

WOODSTOCK — Voters will decide on a $6.04 million town budget and a $1.8 million town highway budget. This year’s town budget is 3.7 percent larger than last year’s, which was approved in a Special Town Meeting in May after the initial spending plan was rejected.

The budget this year includes a “cost of living” increase, Selectman L.D. Sutherland said, but the big issue facing the town is road conditions.

“If you drive around Woodstock you know that our streets are in need of paving like everybody else’s,” he said.

The town has not yet determined which roads will be repaved.

“It’s tough for us to keep up,” Sutherland said.

Woodstock also is proposing to make its part-time emergency services chief full-time. That change, according to Town Manager Phil Swanson, means medical ambulance services will be 15.5 percent of taxes, compared with 13.6 percent last year.

“There are times that we need a second ambulance and don’t have a driver,” Sutherland said.

The budget also includes $138,000 that will go toward town hall repairs.

Two articles on the warning relate to fossil fuels and renewable energy. One urges the state of Vermont to halt any new or expanded fossil fuel structures and to commit to at least 90 percent renewable energy by 2050 for all people in Vermont. The other article lays out what Woodstock can do, such as weatherizing town buildings and schools and denying easements or agreements for any pipelines crossing town lands. These are for discussion only and have no money attached to them, Sutherland said.

Several articles discuss appropriating money to various community organizations, including $30,000 to the Ottauquechee Health Foundation and $36,100 to the Woodstock Area Council on Aging to run the Thompson Senior Center.

On the school side, the Windsor Central Modified Unified Union School District is proposing an $18.1 million school budget. If that is approved, that will result in education spending of $17,994 per equalized pupil, which is 3 percent higher than the current year.

The budget would remove discrepancies that existed between school districts prior to the merger in 2017 and would standardize the number of days teachers work at all campuses. Two administrative assistants and one school principal job have been removed from the proposed budget, according to a report from Superintendent Mary Beth Banios.

Prosper Valley School students, who had to move from the school in Pomfret because of mold contamination and declining enrollment, still will be a part of Woodstock Elementary School, but funding would be provided to maintain the Prosper Valley faculty, according to the superintendent’s report.

The estimated school tax rate for Woodstock in the 2019-20 school year would be $1.66 per $100. That’s a 4 cent decrease from the current school year, which means paying $100 less on a home assessed at $250,000.

There are two open School Board positions, but as of Wednesday, there were no candidates running.

For other town offices, there are only two contested town races this year. For a three-year Selectboard seat, Eden Marceau-Piconi will challenge John Doten Jr., who’s been on the board for 25 years.

Jill Davies, who’s been in office for one term, will face Raymond Bourgeois for a two-year Selectboard seat.

Daniela Vidal Allee can be reached at dallee@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.