DUMMERSTON—With wit, grace and civility, voters at Town Meeting Tuesday morning approved a combined municipal and highway budget of $1,029,475, of which $722,320 will be raised from taxes — up 10 percent from last year.
In the afternoon, they approved a school budget of $3,198,445 — up 1.72 percent — of which $3,183,194 will be raised from taxes.
The percentage rise in the municipal budget is a result of increased costs — for example, a 14 percent rise in health insurance — plus lower revenue, said select board vice-chair Ezekiel Goodband.
On the school side, the state asked the town school boards to hold any budget raises to a maximum of 3 percent, so Dummerston did very well, said board chairman Amy Wall.
Wall was awarded a plaque from the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union for nine years of exceptional school board service.
Wall is not leaving the School Board, but Tom Bodett is leaving the Selectboard, so he received a gift and a standing ovation for his service to the town.
Teased by the other Selectboard members over his deep involvement over the years in solving the town’s gravel issues, Bodett said, “I’ll be going through withdrawal, so if gravel crosses your mind, give me a call.”
Article 5 of the town’s portion of the warning sparked the most discussion, with people speaking both for and against the highway department buying itself a tractor/blower/mower for $55,000 rather than contract the jobs out, as it has been doing.
Even the Selectboard said they were unsure about their decision. The discussion ended after about 40 minutes when Roger Turner said, “The Selectboard has put a lot of time into talking about this and they made this recommendation. Then it seems, at the last minute, we come in and start questioning. I want to trust the Selectboard.”
Article 5, which also included a new, $25,000 heating system for the town garage, then passed.
In other matters, as a safety measure, the School Board asked for money to add a swipe-card buzzer system and a new kindergarten door to secure the school building, in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
And the town voted to spend $3,000 to paint white fog lines on the town’s paved roads every other year.
Richard Epstein then asked if the Selectboard had ever considered removing the pavement from some of the roads and turning them back into dirt.
“Only if you’re thinking of turning your car in for a horse,” Goodband said.