By Mary Ann Lickteig
Charlotte residents on Town Meeting Day rejected Town Clerk Mary Mead’s suggestion to trim $100,000 from the town budget – voting instead to add $500 – and approved sending a $3.1 million budget to voters for approval on April 3.
Voters in April also will decide whether to add an additional $30,000 to the budget for the Recreation Reserve Fund to improve the playground and sports courts at Charlotte Beach and another $50,000 to buy emergency propane generators for the senior center and the town hall. This is the second year that articles affecting the tax rate go to Australian ballot after Town Meeting Day.
If all three articles are approved, the fiscal year 2019 town budget would total $3,225,965 – a 4.5 percent increase over this year’s budget – and raise the municipal tax rate from 0.1719 to 0.1995. Adding the estimated state education tax rate to the municipal figure brings the estimated homestead tax rate to 1.7467 and the non-residential tax rate to 1.8579, meaning that residents owning a house assessed at $200,000 would pay $3,493 and non- residents would pay $3,716, increases of 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
Tuesday’s three-hour meeting at Charlotte Central School attracted about 130 of the town’s 3,100 registered voters – the lowest turnout Mead has seen in her 24 years as clerk. They participated in respectful debate and enjoyed the coffee and baked goods the school Parent Teacher Organization sold for donations.
The group quickly approved an amendment to add $500 to the town budget as a donation to the nonprofit Charlotte News. The request was made by Vince Crockenberg, president of the paper’s board of directors. Crockenberg said he was making the request at town meeting because he forgot to submit it to the Selectboard earlier. The paper is published every other week.
Voters also approved a request from the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue to use approximately $220,000 from its reserve fund buy air packs and bottles. Residents rejected a proposed budget amendment to add $30,000 to the trails reserve fund.
There were 640 votes cast Tuesday by Australian ballot, which included elections for 19 town officers, none contested. Among them were Selectboard member Matthew Krasnow, who was re-elected to a two-year term, Selectboard member Carrie Spear, re-elected for three years and Mead, who was re-elected for another three years as town clerk and treasurer.
The single question on Tuesday’s paper ballot was whether voters approved of the updated town plan. It passed handily 418-176, according to Mead.
Charles Russell, who won a second term at town moderator, presided at his first town meeting Tuesday.
Much discussion centered on a proposal from Dave Garbose, co-owner of Mt. Philo Inn, to add $30,000 to the trails reserve fund to complete a section of the Charlotte Link Trail proposed for the north side of State Park Road between Mount Philo State Park to the Mack portion of the trail. The three-quarter-mile section of road attracts many walkers, has a 40 mph speed limit, and no shoulders or sidewalks, he said. “It’s my view that the town has created a dangerous situation it needs to repair immediately,” Garbose said.
Marty Illlick said the Garbose proposal and its budget needed to be better developed. “This is not an informed way to do this, and I’m not going to support this at this time, although I do support the trail network,” she said.
Laurie Thompson, who co-chairs the trails committee, supported the amendment, saying that the $30,000, combined with next year’s $5,000 allocation and the $61,000 already in the fund would be enough to complete the section of the trail. Rick Lunt questioned depleting a fund meant to provide leverage to win grants.
The amendment was defeated, 75-53.
As for Mead’s proposal to trim $100,000 from the town budget, it was dismissed quickly. Mead would not specify where cuts should be made, arguing that is the Selectboard’s job.
She explained that her request came from sitting through many sparsely attended budget meetings. “I just feel that the Selectboard could take their pencils and chop down the budget because we just can’t have everything we want every year funded to the fullest,” she said.
Town Clerk, 3 years
Mary A. Mead 499
Town Treasurer, 3 years
Mary A. Mead 486
Town Moderator, 1 year
Charles Russell 511
Selectboard, 3 years
Carrie A. Spear 475
Selectboard, 2 years
Matthew L. Krasnow 542
CVSD School Director, 3 years
Jeffrey Martin 487
CVSD School Director, 2 of 4 years
Lynne Jaunich 504
Road Commissioner, 1 year
Hugh Lewis Jr. 591
Library Trustee, 5 years
Katherine Cohen 506
Lister, 3 years
Betsy R. Tegatz 514
Lister, 1 of 3 years
Bruno Murphy 455
Town Grand Juror, 1 year
Allen Ash 464
Town Agent, 1 year
Bruno Murphy 447
Trustee of Public Funds, 3 years
Maurice Harvey 486
Trustee of Public Funds, 2 of 3 years
Jill Lowrey 487
Delinquent Tax Collector, 1 year
Mary A. Mead 512
Auditor, 3 years
Robert Mack 49