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Town, primary voting March 1

Annual Town Meeting on Feb. 29

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Town and school boards have spent months finalizing their budgets, and now it is time for Williston residents to weigh in—and to have a say in who will be on the November presidential ballot.

Voting on March 1 takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Williston Central School.

Any registered voter can vote in the primary elections, but only on one ballot. There is no party registration in Vermont.

The annual Town Meeting is set for Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. at in the Williston Central School auditorium. Voters can learn about town and school budgets, and will also vote on proposed changes to Williston’s dog ordinance.

The changes would allow law enforcement or the town’s health officer to submit a written complaint to the Selectboard regarding a pet attack, as well as broaden the definition of an attack.

Currently, only a victim of an attack may submit a complaint to the Selectboard—a required step for the town to take any form of action. The current policy also refers to a “bite,” whereas the proposed regulations say a complaint can be submitted if a pet has “bitten or otherwise attacked a person or other domesticated animal.”

If the board determines the attack was not provoked, it could order the pet to be confined, chained, muzzled or euthanized. An appeal process to the state judicial system would remain in place.

ON THE BALLOT

Aside from the presidential primaries, voters will decide whether to approve Williston’s municipal budget, budgets for Williston School District and Champlain Valley Union High, as well as select several candidates for town and school seats.

The Selectboard approved a $10.2 million operating budget proposal for fiscal year 2017.

The budget was pared back from original proposals, but it is a 3.9 percent increase over the current year’s budget. If the budget is approved, the municipal tax rate will go up by a penny, a $30 annual increase on a $300,000 home.

The budget also utilizes money from a higher-than-normal fund balance, using $559,500 to reduce the tax rate and fund several capital projects.

Williston School District and Champlain Valley Union High School grappled with spending restraints imposed by the spending cap portion of Act 46, which the Legislature changed shortly after the schools finalized their budgets.

The Williston School Board approved a budget proposal of $17,201,977, as well as an allocation of $83,788 from the school’s fund balance. The budget is a $117,964 reduction from last year’s budget and represents $432,608 in cuts from the baseline operating budget, but it goes slightly over the threshold set by the Legislature’s “allowable growth percentage.”

With the adjustments approved by the Legislature, the budget would result in an approximately $9-per-pupil penalty.

The Champlain Valley Union High School Board approved a budget proposal of $21,710,882, as well as an application of approximately $214,000 from its fund balance. The budget is a 1 percent decrease from last year’s budget, and meets the state’s AGP requirements. The budget will result in the elimination of the Chinese program, reduction in teacher hours in several subjects and the eliminations of four support staff positions.

While more than a dozen residents are running for seats on town and school boards, there is only one contested race.

Mark Lamorey and Amanda Marvin are running for a three-year term on the Williston School Board. Both candidates served as “budget buddies” during the Williston School Board’s budget deliberations, and both have young children in the school system.

To watch a candidate forum between the two candidates, visit www.cctv.org.

Other candidates running unopposed include:

Ted Kenney, Selectboard

Joy Limoge, Selectboard

Brendan M. McMahon, Williston School Board

Polly Malik, Champlain Valley Union High School Board

Erin Brady, Champlain Valley Union High School Board

Catherine Keim, Champlain Valley Union High School Board

Stephen Perkins, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library’s Board of Trustees

Harold Cort, lister

Town reports are also available at the Town Clerk’s office or online at http://www.town.williston.vt.us