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TOWN MEETING MINUTES 3/5/24

TOWN OF WASHINGTON

MARCH 5, 2024

TOWN MEETING MINUTES

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The legal voters of the Town of Washington in the County of Orange and State of Vermont met at the Washington school campus on the 5th day of March, 2024, at 2 p.m. Selectboard Chair Sheila Duranleau opened the meeting and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Articles discussed and voted on:

Art. 1   To elect a moderator for a 1-year term: Bob Sherman nominated Ben Tiefenthaler, 2nd by Brooke Paige, no other nominees, ayes were unanimous.

            Ben explained the procedures that will be followed, including Robert’s Rules of Order, which is the basic rules of order for all Vermont town meetings. Non-residents were asked to stand to be identified as such.

Art. 2   To elect necessary officers/positions for the town and school district by Australian Ballot System: moved by Brooke Paige, 2nd by Bob Sherman, no discussion, ayes were unanimous.

Art. 3   Will the town vote to collect taxes on real property in two installments with the first installment due on September 15, 2024, and the second installment due on February 15, 2025: Brooke Paige moved as written, 2nd by Maxine Durbrow.  Peter Carbee queried the selectboard on the reasoning behind this article. Sheila explained that this article is requested due to the time crunch in July between setting the grand list/tax rate and the required due date to mail out property tax bills. Bob Sherman called the question, 2nd by Brooke Paige, ayes were unanimous to call the question. Ayes were unanimous to pass the article.

Art. 4   Shall the names of delinquent taxpayers who owe more than one year’s taxes and the amounts owed be printed in the town report: moved by Maxine Durbrow, 2nd by Robert Moulton. Discussion: on the purpose of printing the names and amounts. Sheila responded that this was a request from several town residents. Peter Carbee read from the statute that states that towns are allowed to print names and delinquent taxes but not allowed to publish income sensitivity information. Amendment proposed by Peter to strike: “and the amounts owed”, 2nd by Brooke. The amendment carried by ayes. Ben read the article as amended. Discussion on whether this is considered as shaming or as information. There would be a public record at the town clerk’s office for right to know. Ben called the vote: “Shall the names of delinquent taxpayers who owe more than one year’s taxes be printed in the town report”. The voice vote was inconclusive. Bob Sherman called for a division of the house, those voting ayes to stand to be counted, then nays to stand to be counted. Ayes 39, Nays 35. No paper ballot was requested. The amended motion passed.

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Art. 5   Will the town vote to appropriate the sum of $85,781 (requested) for the operating budget of the Washington Fire Department and Fast Squad for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2025? moved by Dr. Rinaldi, 2nd by Maxine. Brooke asked why the amount requested is different while budget shows $86,251 from the fire department budget by $1.00. Brooke made a motion to amend the amount to $85,780. The motion was seconded. 

Fire Chief Ryan Bresette addressed the different amounts and asked for amendment to $86,251. Sherry Beede moved to amend the amendment to $86,251, 2nd by Rebecca Duranleau. Sheila explained the discrepancy as the new amount wasn’t presented to be printed by the due date for the warning. Question called on the secondary amendment. A vote was taken on the amended amendment. The ayes carried. No further discussion. Question called on the amended article: “Will the town vote to appropriate the sum of $86,251 for the operating budget of the Washington Fire Department and Fast Squad for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2025?” Ayes carried.

Art. 6   Will the town vote to appropriate the sum of $62,463 (requested) for the operating budget of the Calef Memorial Library for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2025? Moved and seconded, same question with discussion. Brooke asked for clarification. Maxine explained the budget amount, dealing with the flooding/repairs. Peter thanked Maxine for her clear delineation in the budget. Moderator called the question. Ayes were unanimous.

Art. 7   Will the town vote to appropriate the tune of $5,000 (requested) for the Calef Memorial Library Capital Improvement Fund established at the March 5, 2019, town meeting? Maxine moved the question, Brooke 2nd, no discussion, Ben called the question, ayes unanimous.

Art 8.   Will the town vote to appropriate the sum of $6000 (requested) for the care of old cemeteries for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2025? Maxine made motion, Brooke 2nd, no discussion. Ben called the question, ayes unanimous.

Art.9    Will the town vote to appropriate the sum of $4000 (requested) to support the operating costs of the recreation department for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2025?  Brooke made motion, Rebecca 2nd, no discussion. Ben called the question, ayes unanimous.

Art. 10 Will the town voters authorize the town to spend $1,145,419 for expenses for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2025, of which $900,249 will be raised in taxes? Peter moved the question, 2nd by Brooke. Comments: Scott Blanchard, treasurer/delinquent tax collector, on the incorrect tax rate from last year and the increase needed for this year. Explanation by AJ Galfetti on the highway expenses, especially hoping to have a 3rd person on the road crew. Sheila addressed the high cost of health insurance and the plan chosen is on par with other towns.

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Nick Bresette commented on the anticipated tax rate increase. ARPA funds discussed, what’s been spent to date.

Billy Donovan and Sarah Teel asked questions about anticipated FEMA reimbursement funds. Following other questions and discussion, called to move question, paper ballots called, 35 yes votes to approve the article, 44 no votes to not approve the article. The no votes carried, motion failed.

Art. 11 Will the town vote to appropriate the sum of $10,842 (requested) to level fund the amounts requested from all or some of the service agencies in this report? Moved by Brooke. Was seconded. Point of order by Brooke for service agencies representatives to speak.   Sheila spoke on behalf of the Washington Agricultural Association regarding the various events it provides free of charge. Ben moved the question, ayes unanimous.

Other discussion: Citizen of the Year 2024: Sherry Beede read her tribute to Carol Davis for her 40 years of service as town clerk and treasurer, standing ovation followed, the award was presented to Brooke Paige on Carol’s behalf.

            Lois Deberville recognized Christy Galfetti as the winner of the annual Debra Sue Blanchard Community Service Award. Christy is a registered nurse working to further her education.

Read in part by Carl Demrow; House concurrent resolution honoring Harry Roush for his four-plus decades of exceptional municipal public service in the Town of Washington. Offered by: Representative Demrow of Corinth. Offered by: Senator MacDonald.

Scott Blanchard credited the selectboard for working through the past months of financial uncertainty as well as the continual aftermath from the flood of July 2024.

Bob Sherman moved to adjourn the town meeting, 2nd by Brooke, meeting adjourned.

The audio transcript is currently available at the town hall.

Respectfully submitted, Lois Deberville, Town Clerk

Approved by Ben Tiefenthaler, Moderator, and Peter Carbee, Justice of the Peace

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