By Gregory J. Lamoureux
Polls are open for voters in six towns today to elect board members, and for some, approve a school budget.
The towns of Berkshire, Bakersfield, Montgomery and Sheldon (the Northern Mountain Valley Unified Union School District) will be voting on a $16.3 million school budget, as well as electing eight members to their newly expanded board.
If the budget passes and all the variables set by the state stay the same as last year, taxpayers in Bakersfield will see a slight decrease in their school taxes, while taxpayers in Berkshire, Montgomery, and Sheldon are expected to pay more.
The increase is due to a 2.2% increase in spending over the budgets from all four districts last year, and according to Morgan Daybell of Franklin North East Supervisory Union, the budget could have been a lot higher.
Daybell said the districts were up against health care costs that increased about 10% over last year, as well as teacher contracts that saw an increase of about 3.4%.
Voters in Enosburg and Richford are voting to elect four members to their newly formed board, two from each town.
The Enosburg/Richford Unified Union School District will vote on their budget at a later date, once the newly elected board members are able to finalize a budget.
Three of the six towns involved in the voting today are also involved in a lawsuit to fight the forced mergers, but the court declined to impose an injunction in March, allowing the forced merger process to continue despite the case not being settled.
We’ll have the results of the votes, as well as a report on why some voters are questioning the legality of the vote in the Northern Mountain Valley District, in this week’s County Courier.