• Montpelier makes it a clean budget sweep
     | March 06,2013

    Adam Caira / Staff Photo Thaddeus Mortensen, 13 months, looks over the shoulder of his father, Neil Mortensen, while Neil casts his ballot at Montpelier City Hall on Tuesday. Mortensen said while he votes in every election, he was particularly interested in supporting the city’s firefighters.


    MONTPELIER — All budget and ballot items passed in Town Meeting Day voting in the Capital City, and a four-way race for one City Council seat was won by Jessica Edgerly Walsh.

    Voters approved the city budget 1,693 to 572. The school’s main portion of the budget, nearly $17 million, was approved 1,426 to 891, and an additional school spending line for nearly $400,000 was approved 1,209 to 1,062, according to unofficial results.

    “I knocked on as many doors as I could,” Edgerly Walsh said after her election to the council. “I’m excited to get started.”

    Edgerly Walsh received 295 votes, according to unofficial results. Zachary Hughes had 70 votes, Steve Cook had 109 and Ron Wild had 150, City Clerk John Odum said Tuesday.

    For a $223,000 residential property, one’s tax bill was projected to increase by $421 or 8.1 percent, according to the city’s annual report. The municipal increase was 2.1 percent and the school’s portion was 10 percent, according to the report.

    “I’m one of the one-third who always votes ‘no,’” Fred Cleveland of Elm Street said candidly. He said he voted “no” for the firefighter ballot item and the school budget.

    Supporting the school budget were people like Beatrice David, a U-32 school district French teacher who lives in the city.

    “I rent a place. I know my rent will go up,” she said happily. “It was important to support even though I don’t have kids in the district.”

    The school district’s total proposed spending blueprint was $17,359,522, an increase of 7.46 percent more than the current year’s budget of $16,153,790. Part of those totals include grant money.

    Because the district’s proposed budget increase was higher the rate of inflation and its average spending per pupil was more than the statewide average — about $100 over — the district had to split its budget into two parts.

    The first part was for $16.97 million and the second part was for $389,132.

    Even with the increased spending, the district identified 15 positions for reductions, which included several teachers in subjects from foreign language to social studies.

    The city’s total proposed spending was $18.69 million, an increase of 4.48 percent from the current year, according to the city’s annual report.

    The city’s plan had called for the equivalent of 4.22 staff reductions, covering police, fire, public works, planning and administration.

    To counter the reduction of a firefighter’s position, which has been planned as an unfilled vacancy when a lieutenant retires this summer, members of the local firefighters union circulated a petition to reinstate funding for the position for $54,669.

    The firefighter ballot item passed 1198 to 1098, according to unofficial results.

    The City Council eventually reduced its overall budget by about that same amount, suggesting that even if voters passed the ballot, the position would still be reduced.

    Later, the city reported that a part-time responder could be hired to cover an overnight shift. The fire department has four nights each week when there is only a three-person crew, and the city planned to make an additional night when that happened. But the additional part-time help will keep the status quo. The solution will be achieved within the existing budget, according to the city.

    As part of Tuesday’s voting results, the city also will have a new Downtown Improvement District for marketing and for and making sidewalk and landscape improvements. The new tax supporting those efforts affects commercial properties in the downtown area.


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