Ashcroft ousts Rhodes in Rutland Town
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | March 05,2014
Rutland Town voters approved municipal and school budgets and unseated a five-term selectman Tuesday.
By a 583-548 vote, Mary Ashcroft defeated Select Board Chairman Stanley Rhodes III for a three-year seat on the board.
“I was not expecting that,” Ashcroft said, after all the votes were tallied. “It was a good race. Stan and I, we raised a lot of issues that needed to be raised.”
Ashcroft described campaigning beside Rhodes on Tuesday.
“I frankly had a very nice day standing with Stan and I learned a lot about his views on town government,” Ashcroft said.
“He’s done a lot of great work and we’re very grateful,” she said, “and now it’s up to me to carry on and do the stuff that needs to be done in town.”
Rhodes said that Ashcroft’s husband, Harold Billings, who died in 2012, would have enjoyed the day.
“I told Mary that Harold would be very proud of her,” Rhodes said.
Rutland Town has two polling locations. After tallying ballots cast at town hall, Rhodes led Ashcroft, 151-145. However, Ashcroft took the lead and the win when ballots were counted from the polling place at Rutland Town School, with 438 votes for Ashcroft and 397 votes for Rhodes.
The initial ballots cast at Town Hall had the budget for Rutland Town School going down by a vote of 167-134. However, with strong support among voters at the school, the budget passed with a town-wide vote of 637-498.
“I’m thankful to the voters of Rutland Town for the faith they’ve put in the School Board and for allowing us to give our children the best education we can,” said School Board Chairwoman Lynette Gallipo.
The school budget of $7,647,712 is a decrease of $197,589, or 2.5 percent, compared with the current budget of $7,845,300.
The Rutland Town School Board found itself in a challenging position in January when it learned that, despite having a proposed budget with a 1.6-percent increase, education expenses would add about 12 cents to the tax rate.
Even after making cuts to create a budget that is not only lower than the current budget, but lower than the year before, residential property owners are still looking at an additional 5.5 cents on the tax rate to pay for education.
The increase is driven by a proposed 7-cent increase in the residential homestead tax rate, a drop in the common level of appraisal and a drop in the number of equalized pupils.
By a vote of 871-259, residents approved a general fund budget of $830,890, a decrease of $239,598, or 22.3 percent, compared to the current budget of $1,070,488.
However, the current budget includes money for the police department, which this year’s proposed budget did not.
Voters approved a separate, $249,724 police budget, 725-401.
Residents also approved $968,480 for the highway fund, 917-213; $164,065 for the fire fund, 938-197; and $145,350 for the recreation fund, 764-369.
Voters also approved $133,876 in 15 separate appropriations, with the majority of that amount — $86,628 — for the Rutland Free Library. Voters also approved money to support the Housing Trust of Rutland County, the Rutland Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice, and Regional Ambulance Service.