Dollars & Decisions: City Meeting, March 5, 2013

Voting cartoon by Tim Newcomb.This year’s Town Meeting Day ballot may contain fewer items than in previous years, but the potential cost to taxpayers could be greater if all measures are approved.

March 5 will find Montpelier voters confronted with an array of ballot issues, many of which will ask voters for more money. There are three long-term borrowing bond packages on the ballot (two city bonds for street and sewer improvements totalling $1.38 million and a third school bond issue covering repairs, heating and other projects at city schools); a proposed $75,000 downtown business district tax levy on nonresidential downtown properties; a request for an increase from the library; continued support of the Montpelier Circulator bus; and a request from firefighters to continue funding a position that the City Council cut in anticipation of a retirement. All of it, if passed, adds up to increased taxes for city residents.

There is an open race with four challengers in District 3, while in the other districts the incumbents are running unopposed. Three candidates are running for the three slots on the Montpelier school board.

Back to the budget: The city budget calls for an increase of less than 2 percent, but includes a controversial cut of the aforementioned firefighter backup position. This cut produced another ballot measure calling for the council to set aside funds to restore the position. The school budget calls for spending that exceeds the state-mandated single vote limit, thus triggering a second vote. The total increase, if both measures pass, would be 8 percent above last year’s budget.

Follow that? If not, delve into our Town Meeting Day coverage, in which Bridge writer Richard Sheir helps you navigate the ballot and budget issues and their implications, beginning with a round-up of the candidates.

—Max Shenk, editorial associate

[ EDITED February 21, 2013 ]