From battles about ballots to decisions about dates

Notes from the floor of Annual Town Meetings from more towns throughout Windham County

Following is a roundup of Town Meeting news that came too late for last week's edition of The Commons. Most towns held their annual meetings on Town Meeting Day on Tuesday, March 5.


• One seat for school director that has been open for several years remains open after the Annual Town Election, with nine people having received one write-in vote each. Election would require a minimum of three votes.

• Voters approved the proposed $643,357 general budget by paper ballot in a 52–30 vote.

• An article to discontinue use of the Australian ballot system was defeated, 60–21, in a paper ballot vote.

Voters also agreed to hold future Annual Town Meetings on the Monday night before the first Tuesday in March at 6 p.m.


• Voters approved spending $607,080 to maintain highways and bridges, $233,894 for the general budget, and a $200,000 capital budget for the town's highway structures program, the fire truck fund, and highway equipment. They also agreed to spend $29,950 to operate the fire department, $9,000 for ambulance service, and $4,500 for rescue squad operations.

• Also approved was spending $12,181 to support 15 local and regional humanitarian organizations.

• An article to raise $2,037 for the support of community programs of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) was not considered.


• Voters approved an $810,993 general operating budget, a $1.105 million highway budget, $268,550 for fire department operating expenses, and $35,000 for the fire department capital improvement fund. They also agreed to spend $68,000 to contract with the Windham County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services.

• The general operating budget was amended down when voters removed a $14,500 increase for the town clerk's office staffing and the SeVEDS request. That request started as $6,363, or about $3 per resident, and was first amended to $2 per person, and ultimately to $0 per person.

• Voters agreed to change the Annual Meeting date to the Saturday immediately preceding the first Tuesday in March.

Two articles asking to switch to Australian ballot failed.

• Incumbent Selectboard member Zon Eastes retained his seat for two years, having bested his opponent, Steven Pritchard, 373-219.

Chip Carter took a three-year term on the board after defeating Hannah Trustin, 371-202.

A video of the meeting is available at


• Voters approved a $1.831 million general operating budget for fiscal year 2025.

• They also agreed to exempt the Masonic Lodge Mt. Lebanon #46 land and building from taxation for a period of five years.

• After several amendments, voters agreed to keep next year's Annual Town Meeting on the state's Town Meeting Day, as it has been. Next year's will take place on Tuesday, March 4, 2025, at 10 a.m.

But first voters asked to move it to 6 p.m. so more could attend; that proposal failed in a voice vote. Then it was moved to change the date to the second Saturday in March; that motion failed in a voice vote. Then it was moved to hold the meeting on Tuesday, but at 4 p.m.; that also failed.

• Only one contest took place on Town Meeting floor: that of agent to deed land, which went to a paper ballot when Rob Willis and Andy Coyne were both nominated for the post. Coyne was elected, 41–30.

• It was also noted at the meeting that the projected enrollment for Jamaica Village School next year is nine students and that 60% of local students attend schools elsewhere.


• Voters handled all business by Australian ballot this year and turned down an article to return to in-person town meetings in two votes of 286–110 and 272–122.

They did agree to change the term of constable from one year to two years.

• Voters approved a $570,400 general operating budget and a $1.05 million highway budget. They agreed to spend $55,000 to help defray fire department operating expenses, $50,000 for fire department capital improvements, $21,905 to Rescue Inc. and $5,000 to Deerfield Valley Rescue, $5,000 for the community center, and $15,868 to support 16 health care/social service organizations.

• Also approved was the $3.846 million proposed operating budget - a 2% decrease to this year's budget - for the Marlboro School District for fiscal year 2025, in a vote of 318–69.


• Voters here on March 5 did not approve the proposed $7.941 million Bellows Falls Union High School (BFUHS) operating budget in a vote of 430-412, but the budget did pass among other BFUHS district member towns. Rockingham voters did approve the River Valley Technical Center's $3.279 million budget in a vote of 580–548.

• Annual Town Meeting will be held Monday, April 1 at the Opera House at 7 p.m., and on Tuesday, April 2 the polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Masonic Temple, 61 Westminster St.

Voters will be asked to approve a proposed $6,536 million appropriation for combined general and highway expenses, $436,780 for Rockingham Free Public Library operational expenses, and "an amount not to exceed $125,000" for five years to pay the town's share of structural repairs to the Rockingham Meeting House.

They will also consider borrowing up to $280,000 for five years to buy a new highway department grader; up to $150,000 for the same time period to pay the town's share of Bellows Falls Train Station repair; up to $125,000 to pay for Town Hall structural repair.

Voters will also consider spending $67,019 to support 16 humanitarian and community organizations.


• Voters here approved general fund operating expenses of $766,326 and $1.628 million for town roads on March 5. They also agreed to spend $193,425 for fire department operations and $94,180 to operate the library, and they appropriated $50,000 to the highway garage renovation/replacement fund, $125,000 to the highway department equipment fund, and $60,000 for the fire department equipment fund.

• The Twin Valley Unified Union School District budget of $10.847 million was approved by both Wilmington and Whitingham, 443-221.


• In an eight-hour Annual Town Meeting on March 9, voters decided to pursue school choice and reject the one-school (Windham Elementary School) Windham School District operating budget.

An article authorizing the School Board to offer elementary school education for students by paying tuition to other elementary schools passed 82–45, while the $596,012 proposed budget to keep the school operating failed, 77–60.

Voters also rejected an article asking to petition the state to be included in a supervisory union other than Windham Central. The school was "temporarily" closed after the winter holidays, and 17 students have been bused to Townshend due to lack of staffing.

• A three-year term as school director went to Daniel Roth, who took the seat also sought by Nancy Tips in a paper-ballot vote of 73–67.

• Approved were the proposed $342,107 town budget, a $537,286 road budget, $180,703 for new road machinery, $60,000 to repave roads and bridges, $10,000 for a townwide reappraisal, $8,535 to support 19 nonprofits, and $10,000 each for the town garage, town office, and meeting house maintenance and improvement funds.

• Voters agreed to change the constable's position from elected to appointed and to prohibit the constable from exercising any law enforcement authority.

• They also agreed to adopt Australian balloting, but only for the election of town officers and for special elections, except in cases where a floor vote is mandated by state statute.

This News item by Virginia Ray was written for The Commons.

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