323% increase proposed for Goshen roads

GOSHEN – Residents who only take a cursory look at Goshen’s town meeting warning will likely be shocked to see that the selectboard proposes spending $747,150 on roads this year, which is a 323% increase over the amount approved for roads last year.

A closer look at the town report shows that a vast majority of the budget money for roads is earmarked for a $552,000 paving project on Town Hill Road. A budgeted $352,000 would come from town money market and investment funds that have been building up for this day. The other $200,000 would come from a state grant.

In their report, selectboard members note that the proposed amount raised by taxes — $155,150 — represents an increase of $11,850, or about 8.3%.

Goshen residents will be asked to approve municipal spending of $269,761, which is an increase of $21,598, or 8.7%, over last year.

Goshen’s in-person town meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday evening at the Goshen Town Hall, 50 Carlisle Hill Road.

After the above-mentioned articles are voted on, town meeting will recess and then Australian ballot voting takes place the next day, Tuesday, March 5, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at the same locale.

Residents will entertain the following:

The selectboard asks townspeople if they want to make major changes to some town offices. First, should the elected position of town treasurer become one that is appointed by the selectboard and could hired from out of town. The thinking is that Goshen is a small town and at some point it will have to look out of town for expertise. By the way, Treasurer Vickee Whiting has retired.

A second major change is to do away with the two town constables and depend on state police and the county sheriff. The reasoning here is that there is a town expense in training and insuring constables, and their official authority is limited. An animal control officer would be appointed to take care of dogs in town.

A third change would move from elected local auditors to hiring an outside professional auditor, as many Vermont towns have done.

Plus, Goshen folks will elect a member of the selectboard to a three-year term (incumbent Bill Mathis’s term is up), and elect a town clerk for one year (Martin Fjeld, who was appointed to the position this past summer, is willing to continue).

Goshen residents on Tuesday will vote on the Otter Valley Unified Union (OVUU) school district budget, which proposes 2024-2025 spending $27,247,823. That budget represents a 12.71% increase over the current year’s spending, but on an equalized pupil basis, it is a 9.74% increase.

Calculations in January showed that this level of spending would drive up education property taxes in the six town district between 17% and 28% for those who paid based on their income (two-thirds of Vermonters pay less for their school taxes because of state support).

Goshen residents may cast ballots on the board representing the OVUU, but this year there will be not many names to choose from. There are no contested races, and only two board members are seeking re-election: Fernanda Canales of Goshen and Natalie Steen of Brandon. But several board members are not running, and a couple are stepping down mid-term. On the ballot with no candidates are a Brandon seat with one year remailing on a three-year term, a Leicester seat with two years remaining on a three-year term, and three-year terms for seats in Whiting, Pittsford and At-Large.

It’s too late to get your name on the ballot, but anyone who wishes to fill one of these school board seats may run a write-in campaign.

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