Bethel Town Meeting Preview: Moderator Will Retire, Selectboard Race

Front Page / Feb. 25, 2010 11:57am EST

By Amy Danley-White

The town of Bethel will hold its annual Town Meeting Tuesday, March 2 at 10 a.m. at Whitcomb High School.

The first order of business will be to elect officers. Carroll Ketchum has been the town meeting moderator for the past 25 years, but will be retiring from that position this year.

Chairman Neal Fox’s position is open on the selectboard and he will be running for re-election. Carl Russell has announced that he will also run for that seat. Other positions open for election include: town clerk, town treasurer, one lister, two auditors, one or more grand jurors, an agent to prosecute and defend suits in which the town is interested, and a trustee of public funds.

The agenda also includes several articles for the appropriation of funds. The first order of money distribution and collection business will be a vote on the basic budget for highway and general expenses. The recommended amount to defray these costs is $1,023,050 for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2010.

A number of local and state human service agencies every year ask for some financial support to help offset their costs. The selectboard has suggested a cap of $16,890 for these appropriations. Not included in this list is the Vermont Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, which has asked for $800 to support its work.

The White River Valley Ambulance has asked for $107,855 from the town. WRVA has been implementing new changes and improvements over the last two years that have cut costs and improved the quality of service.

Several town public works articles are up for voter approval. The town has asked for $90,000 for paving town highways and finishing repairs to Pleasant Street. There is a request from the town highway crew for $13,516 to upgrade communications equipment to high band frequency. Supplemental funds for gravel have been requested to the sum of $14,000.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation has given Bethel money to improve streetscapes; however, the town needs to match with $40,000. Also, money for storm drains to provide necessary run off for these improvements is not included in this AOT money. The town is requesting an additional $30,000 for fixing storm drains.

The last request for funding comes from the Bethel Fire Department, which has asked for $14,000 for its fire and safety fund.

Also up for vote is a request from the town to exempt property tax for the Middle Branch Grange for municipal and educational reasons for the next five years. The town would also like to keep collecting town and school district taxes due in four installments annually.

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