Observer staff report
Residents can weigh in on town and school budgets Tuesday on Town Meeting Day.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Armory. Early voting and absentee ballots are available at the Town Hall until 4:30 p.m. on March 3.
Residents can also gather information about the budgets and candidates at the annual Town Meeting, set for 7 p.m. at the Williston Central School auditorium.
While the town, Williston School District and Champlain Valley Union High School budgets were pared back from original proposals, all will result in increases to the tax rate.
Voters will be asked to approve a $9.8 million municipal budget, which would result in a projected 2-cent property tax increase. Half of the tax increase comes from payments totaling $400,000 on a new public works facility, approved by voters last March.
The budget would result in a tax rate of 27 cents, meaning the owner of a $300,000 home will pay $810 in municipal taxes.
The Williston School Board on Jan. 16 approved a budget proposal of $17.25 million—approximately the same as last year. The board settled on the figure after approving nearly $300,000 in cuts from its adjusted baseline budget.
The Champlain Valley Union High School Board will ask voters to approve a 2014-2015 budget of $22.4 million, a 1.65 increase over the current budget. The board was initially presented with a 3.56 percent increase in its baseline budget.
Voters will also be asked to approve $140,000 in bonds for paving at Allen Brook and Williston Central schools, as well as $107,000 to purchase one school bus for the Williston School District and $178,000 for two school buses for Champlain Valley Union High School.
Despite the flat Williston budget and trimmed increase in the CVU budget, the property tax rate is still set to increase by approximately 6.8 percent, according to the latest estimate provided by Bob Mason, Chittenden South Supervisory Union chief operations officer. The estimated increase is largely due to a recommended 7-cent increase in the state’s base homestead tax rate.
The total estimated homestead education tax rate, which includes the Williston School District spending and Williston’s portion of the CVU budget, would be $1.56 per $100 of value—up approximately 10 cents from last year’s rate.
That would mean a total estimated tax bill of $1.83 per $100 of value—$5,490 for the owner of a $300,000 home.
The rate is still subject to change—the town sets the municipal tax rate in June and the legislature will decide on the state’s base homestead tax rate in the summer.
Not all taxpayers pay the same rate, however. Homeowners who earn less then $92,000 are eligible for reductions to their property tax bills through the state’s income sensitivity program. Approximately 53 percent of Williston’s parcels receive tax credits, according to Town Clerk Deb Beckett.
Voters will also be asked to authorize the Champlain Water District Board of Commissioners to borrow up to $2.775 million for a 20-year bond to replace and upgrade a regional water storage tank and water line.
Only town water users would see an impact on their water rate, totaling $1.54 per year for the average family.
Along with municipal and school budgets and a Champlain Water District bond, voters will head to the polls on March 4 to elect representatives to several boards and positions.
The following positions will be on the ballot, and all candidates are running unopposed.
Champlain Water, three-year term, incumbent Joe Duncan
First Constable, one-year term, no petition filed
Library Trustee, five-year term, incumbent Karla Karstens
Library Trustee, five-year term, incumbent Kristin Caterer
Lister, three-year term, no petition filed
Selectboard, two-year term, incumbent Chris Roy
Selectboard, three-year term, incumbent Debbie Ingram
Town Clerk, three-year term, incumbent Deb Beckett
Town Treasurer, three-year term, incumbent Deb Beckett
Williston School District Board, three-year term, incumbent Joshua Diamond
Williston School District Board, two-year term, incumbent Giovanna Boggero
CVU School Director, three-year term, incumbent David Rath