Dorset voters approve all 21 town meeting articles

DORSET — Voters at Town Meeting approved all 21 articles on the warrant, including 16 appropriations to non-profit organizations. Those included $40,000 for the Dorset Nursing Association; $20,000 for the Dorset Library; and $15,000 for the Dorset Marble Preservation Association, to restore the town's marble sidewalks.

Voters also approved, after extended debate, a request from the Green Mountain Club for $15,000 toward the cost of reconstructing the Bromley Observation Tower.

Results from Tuesday's Australian ballot were not available as of deadline. There were no races on the ballot this year, as board chair Henry Chandler, vice chair Megan Thorn and select board member Liz Ruffa were running for re-election. Chandler sought a three-year term, while Thorn and Ruffa were both up for one-year terms.

Also up for a vote was a proposed $2.4 million budget, and a tax rate of 28.35 cents per $100 in assessed value. The proposed budget was $163,192 higher than last year's. Roughly $95,000 of the increase will be going toward a town-wide property reappraisal, which is the first time in 14 years that the town has had to go through this process. About $25,000 of that budget will go toward a summer trail building internship that is run by the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

On Monday, a school facility fee of $76,000, Article 4, was questioned by Terry Tyler, who was curious as to what exactly the school facility use fee would go to for the upcoming fiscal year and the reason as to why that amount was calculated. Town manager, Rob Gaiotti explained that they have about $10,000 set aside to help pay for space expenses in which they will receive an invoice for the space.

"The goal with the remainder of the funds is to reinvest it back into the soccer field because anybody who's been out there recently knows it's in pretty dire straits," Gaiotti said. "The goal is to use it in those two forms this year, and then next year, probably go down to just $10,000 for the use of the space."

With reinvesting the money back into the school, there is a hope that the space will be continually available for the greater Dorset community for years to come.

The Green Mountain Club's request for $2,500 toward the cost of rebuilding the Bromley Observation Tower in Peru was approved, despite resident Rosalie Fox's questions about how the project would help the town. The tower was taken down in 2012 due to structural and safety concerns. It sat on Bromley Mountain, located in Peru.

The Green Mountain Club has raised roughly $120,00 of the estimated $262,000 cost of rebuilding the tower. The club estimates that the structure could be built by the end of the summer.

"I did a little bit of research and discovered that in 2013, the Green Mountain Club started this fundraising event with the hope that they, I believe, could build it by the fall of 2014," Fox said. "The price tag associated with the tower at that point in time - and maybe it was different materials or maybe not - was $150,000."

" Year after year, we have questioned our overall budget and what we spend on our schools and other needs." Fox said. "Be very conscious and aware of the fact that not only do we have individuals in this town who could easily afford one more item taxed to their taxes - but there are many individuals in this town who neither hike on the Long Trail nor can afford anything else added to the budget that we approve and the additional costs this evening, and I'm concerned about that."

Katie Brooks, who spoke on behalf of The Green Mountain Club, described how the tower would be used by the town, and the challenges the group has faced.

"What you fail to recognize is that East Dorset is a very important part of Dorset, and the tower sanctioned trail to be rebuilt all the way to that tower in Bromley and it's used a lot," Brook said. "We were told as the Green Mountain Club members to stop fundraising because they had two bigger, important other construction projects. Like the one on Winooski Bridge that went over budget and another cabin that had to be funded first."

The Bromley Observation Tower article was passed on a voice vote, with a large majority in favor.

The final article of the night, centered around a non-binding resolution for the town to support a initiative for the State of Vermont to have at least 90 percent of its people to have renewable energy by the year 2050.


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