A Town Meeting snapshot
03/07/07 12:00AM By Betty Smith-Mastaler
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(Host) Despite the chilly temperatures, attendance at West Windsor's Town Meeting Tuesday topped out at a respectable hundred plus voters - all in a pretty good mood.
VPR's Betty Smith has this snapshot of town meeting start-to-finish.
(Matt Birmingham) "And is there a second?"
(Birmingham) "Is she here? Do I see her?"
(Attendee) "She's in Florida." (laughter)
(Birmingham) "Good nomination."
(Attendee) "Thank you.
(Birmingham) "Are you covenant with the crowd that she knows all about this?"
(Attendee) "She does."
(Birmingham) "Uh huh. That's why she's in Florida." (laughter)
(Smith) Town Moderator Matt Birmingham moved the meeting right along. The first item to generate much discussion was an increase in the school budget, primarily due to secondary education cost increases.
More students are attending nearby high schools, and tuition costs are rising.
So cuts were made in the elementary budget and grant sources were tapped to compensate.
Frustration with a lack of control over secondary expenses, and mistrust of consolidation was expressed, but in the end, the budget was approved.
Voters also heard about increases in the town budget, due to fuel costs including "green" diesel fuel, and medical insurance for town employees despite a change in carriers. But again, after some discussion the budget passed.
Other financial articles were dispatched fairly quickly, including the purchase of a new fire truck.
(Selectman) "I think it's important to remember that on January 23rd this community suffered the worst fire ever. I note that on the way home from that fire that the Engine 2 died and was out of service for seven or eight days. If that truck had died enroute to the fire, we might have had an entirely different circumstance. Therefore I totally support the purchase of a new fire truck "
(Smith) The longest and most spirited discussion involved a Planning Commission proposal to require site plan approval for any conditional use other than a single or two-family dwelling and voluntary review for single and two-family dwellings. Some voters saw an erosion of property ownership rights. Others saw necessary development regulation. A paper ballot was called for.
(Moderator) "This is the results of your ballots. The result of your ballots was sixty votes - "yes" thirty-five votes - "no" "
(Smith) Other business included a suggestion to post town agendas on line. Thanks were expressed for the high level of public service in town. And the fire department was accorded a standing ovation.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Betty Smith in West Windsor.