Hinesburg residents approved every measure on the Town Meeting ballot Monday evening as all 10 articles passed on voice votes with nearly unanimous “ayes” from the more than 150-person crowd.
Voters gathered at Champlain Valley Union High School for the annual meeting where the financial business of the town was done in person. On the paper ballot Tuesday was a slate of town offices to be filled, none of which were contested.
Frank Twarog, Hinesburg town moderator, opened the meeting with a call for civility.
“We gather again in unity, even if we aren’t united in opinion. We set aside our differences, but hold tight to our convictions. We speak with courage and listen with respect. Let us congregate with the purpose of local governance and let us each have the will to participate,” Twarog told the crowd in the auditorium.
State Rep. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg, addressed the crowd to discuss the various issues facing Vermont and Hinesburg and dominating the conversation in Montpelier such as gun control, budget constraints, and property taxes continue.
Selectboard Chair Phil Pouech spoke to the audience before business got under way. He introduced the new assistant town administrator Joy Dubin Grossman; he also reviewed some highlights from the past year and challenges facing the town’s future.
“We’ve really been working hard to improve the communication among the board, with the town, be as respectful as possible, and improve transparency as much as possible. Hopefully, we’re getting there,” Pouech said.
Pouech reviewed the budget and spending increases, the main contributor being debt service for thehighway garage and solar panels. While the budget is increasing by almost 13 percent, he mentioned revenue increasing as well.
“We’re very sensitive to the tax increase, it’s one of the biggest we’ve had in years,” Pouech said.
Despite the double-digit jump in the budget’s bottom line of $3,855,040, voters item-by-item approved each category of spending for the town in the next year.
Pouech also highlighted town employees including Mike Anthony, who’s worked for the Highway Department for 35 years, Cheryl Hubbard a 20-year assistant town clerk, and town assessor Marie Gardner who decided to stay on last year to help finish the town assessment. She will be retiring this year.
For highlights from 2017, Pouech listed the approval of the town plan, work on developing Bissonette playing fields, the Vermont Gas pipeline easement and the new town garage. Challenges for 2018 included development constraints, stormwater rules and determining whether the Chittenden Solid Waste District trash and recycling drop-off center will resume operations in town.
Hinesburg Fire Department received a standing ovation from the crowd for celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. An official celebration begins on June 30 which will end with fireworks on the fourth of July.
Articles 3 and 4, the approval of the general budget of $1.7 million and highway budget of a little more than a million dollars were approved with no discussion and only a few nays. The police budget was approved after a few residents asked questions about the rotation of new police cars. Chief Frank Koss explained what Hinesburg would do if Shelburne votes to enter the formation of a regional dispatch authority. Koss said Hinesburg will either join the regional dispatch system or continue to use Shelburne dispatch to handle calls to police, fire and rescue services.
The remaining articles were approved with some discussion over allocations of resources. While discussing the last article where the public can raise other concerns and motions, the public approved to amend a typo in the minutes from last year’s budget.
Overall, the meeting sparked little disagreement or contention and kept to the spirit that Moderator Twarog called for at the outset.
Ending with a subject most could agree on, Rep. Lippert made a motion to ask the solid waste district to reopen its Hinesburg trash and recycling facility, garnering much approval from the crowd.
Votes were not totaled in uncontested races.
Selectboard, 2 years
Selectboard, 3 years
Town Moderator, 1 year
Town Agent, 1 year
Cemetery Trustee, 3 years
Mary Jo Brace
Peck Estate Trustee, 3 years
Library Trustees (3), 3 years