Castleton voters express displeasure with 556 at floor meeting
By DARREN MARCY
Staff Writer | March 04,2014
CASTLETON — Castleton’s floor meeting Monday night wasn’t any less contentious than recent Select Board meetings have been.
About 150 people packed into the Jeffords Center on the campus of Castleton State College.
While going through more than 40 items that make up the town budget, which will be voted on today by Australian ballot at the American Legion, the topic of discussion, as it often does in Castleton, turned to the old Town Office Building at 556 Main St.
Questions arose about why the town was continuing to heat the building, whether it was going to be sold, and, setting off some fireworks, who was going to pay for the money spent in pursuing its renovations since the bond issue to pay for the renovations failed in January.Figuring out how much money had been spent on those plans proved somewhat elusive but $ the 74,000 was the most common number tossed out.
But — more important than the exact figure for some questioners — was who was going to pay for that expense.
Several people asked if the board members who supported the renovation plans would be willing to take the responsibility for the funds spent.
Select Board Chairman Thomas Ettori tried to suggest the money spent had helped the town move forward in settling the long simmering town office issue.
“I don’t think we’d be where we are today if that money had not been spent,” Ettori said.
The question then became, “and where are we?”
Graham Trudo, who has been a vocal opponent to renovating 556 Main St. rehashed actions at past meetings in which he claimed Selectman John Hale and Wenger Rehlen were responsible.
“We’ve spent all this money and we’re going to lose it,” Trudo said. “John, as a taxpayer I’m not going to take it on the chin for any of the $74,000 that was spent.”
Trudo drew protests from the room as he started to imply that Hale might have trouble looking in the mirror, and was ruled out of order.
That didn’t end the 556 protests, however.
Frank Taggart suggested the building be shut down.
“Shut off the power, turn off the heat,” Taggart said. “It’s ridiculous.”
Prior to the town budget issues, the town school board meeting was held.
With the budget and election of school directors slated for today by Australian ballot, the big issued to be determined Monday was about the Castleton Town School District.
After pupil transportation had been removed from the district to the Addison Rutland Supervisory Union, the board had no purpose and the proposal was to dissolve the school board.
Residents voted to shut down the Castleton Town School District board after a lengthy discussion.
After an explanation by School Board chairman Tim Smith and several questions and comments, the question was called.
Several people in the audience wanted to continue the discussion but were outvoted and the measure then passed overwhelmingly.