News

Budget hikes and borrowing requests

Voters to weigh in on Town Meeting Day Tuesday

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

About 270 completed ballots have already come into the Williston Town Clerk’s office as Town Meeting Day early voting enters its final days. Traditional in-person voting is scheduled for Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the National Guard Armory at 7846 Williston Rd. 

In all, 622 out of roughly 7,800 registered voters requested early ballots, Town Clerk Sarah Mason said. 

Early ballots that have not already been mailed back can be placed in the drop box behind Town Hall through noon Monday or handed to a poll worker Tuesday at the Armory. 

Williston voters have two ballots to consider: the town’s, with its budget proposal and uncontested races for elected seats on a variety of boards; and the Champlain Valley School District’s, with its budget proposal and questions on borrowing money for school building maintenance and buses. 

The Annual Meeting typically held at the Williston Central School auditorium will instead be held online over Zoom. Votes will not be taken as it will be an informational meeting related to the questions on the ballot. A link to the meeting is available at the town website (www.town.williston.vt.us). It is scheduled for a 7 p.m. Monday start. The school district Annual Meeting will also be informational only and held over Zoom, starting at 5 p.m. Monday. A link to the meeting is available at the district website (www.cvsdvt.org).

Voters will consider a proposed town budget that would create nine new firefighter positions and a new energy coordinator position, adding $1.6 million (14 percent) in new spending compared to the current fiscal year. Voters will also consider a school budget proposal that includes funding for 11 new educators and administrators — including four full-time diversity, equity and inclusion positions — and adds $4.1 million (4.8 percent) in new spending over the current year. 

The estimated tax impact of the school budget would be an increase of 2 percent (roughly $93 on a $300,000 home). The estimated tax impact of the town budget would be an increase of 15 percent (roughly $115 on a $300,000 home). 

The school ballot also asks voters for approval of $7.5 million in borrowing authority for a variety of maintenance and modernization projects across five of the district’s six schools. The project list includes a cafeteria floor upgrade, sidewalk repair, card access system and fire alarm upgrade at Williston Central School. 

“Our goal is to present district voters with consistent, small investment (bond) requests prioritized to eliminate the need for large and costly construction projects that we have experienced in the past,” the board wrote in its budget mailing to residents.

The town ballot has only one name listed for each available elected position, as all candidates are running unopposed. Incumbent school board chair Angela Arsenault is running for another three-year term; incumbent Williston Selectboard members Ted Kenney and Greta D’Agostino are running for another three and two years, respectively; Shari Westman, Barbara Mieder and Brian Goodwin are running for the three available seats on the Library Board of Trustees; and Harold Cort is running for a three-year term as Lister. 

Voters will also be asked for borrowing approval for up to $280,000 to replace an ambulance that is about eight years old.