Chittenden voters OK budget articles

 

CHITTENDEN — Voters in Chittenden went to the polls at the town office Tuesday to elect officers and vote on budget articles. The two-year Select Board position was contested between Clifford Bassett and Preston Rich, with Rich prevailing, 154-106. All other positions were uncontested or without candidates. On the new Barstow Unified Union School District (Mendon and Chittenden) ballot, Brenda Vicars Hummel ran unopposed for a three-year seat as school director for Chittenden. Voters passed the general fund budget of $486,907, of which $348,494 is to be raised by taxes, by a margin of 226-37. The highway budget of $762,923, of which $508,371 is to be raised by taxes, passed 234-29. Appropriations totaling $92,585 for the Chittenden Volunteer Fire Department and First Response, the Chittenden Public Library, and the Barstow Youth Club passed by roughly the same ratios. All appropriations requests from area nonprofits, totaling $11,603 to be raised by taxes, also passed by comfortable margins, as did the creation of a Barstow Generator Replacement Reserve Fund for emergency use, beginning with $500 from the General Fund budget. An estimated 60 voters gathered at the Barstow Community Room on Monday to hear the town officers’ reports and review the ballot. The meeting was dedicated to Chittenden resident Robert Case, a veteran of the Vietnam War, for his dedication to the town and service in many capacities, including the cemetery commission, the emergency management department, manager of the town website, and editor/designer of the town newsletter, the Chit-Chat. The most controversial article was the proposal to approve a 4 percent discount allowance on property tax payments received in full by Sept. 1, as an incentive for residents to pay them early. The allowance would require $90,000 to be raised in taxes. Some voters argued that the incentive is unfair to those who can’t afford to take advantage of it, while others said it was a question of giving up $90,000 in revenue or borrowing money to meet operating expenses while waiting for taxes to be paid. According to the town report for 2016-2017, $82,594 was paid out in discounts. Interest on delinquent taxes was $12,844, the late homestead tax penalty was $1,237 and the delinquent tax penalty was $13,583. In Tuesday's voting, residents approved the early discount, 205-55. The Boys and Girls Club of Rutland County explained that only 5 percent of its budget request of $5,000 goes to administration. Bob Bearor, proprietor of Teeny Tiny’s Poultry Farm, has announced his retirement from the Select Board. Select Board Chairman Gary Congdon publicly thanked Bearor for his long public service – 45 years, almost without a break. Rep. Jim Harrison wrapped up the meeting with his legislative report. He struck a candid, conversational tone and offered the insider’s view of the Legislature that had the meeting’s full attention. Harrison answered a host of questions on taxes, health costs, and the new law requiring the replacement of single-walled gasoline tanks – an issue of special interest to Chittenden, which has a local gas station at the Wooden Barrel that will be affected. He expressed appreciation to the town for having him address its town meeting, saying that accessibility to lawmakers makes Vermont special. “Vermont is a small city,” he said.

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