Morristown voters will decide two races for select board and consider a town budget increase on Town Meeting Day March 3.
The overall town budget — including a base budget and special articles — is proposed at $6,088,905, up $253,102 from current spending.
Voters will decide on the budget at the floor of town meeting, but three of the five select board members will be elected in all-day ballot voting.
Incumbent Eric Dodge is unopposed for re-election, but Judy Bickford is being challenged by Ryan Farrell. Three people —Travis Douglass, Gary Nolan and Laura Streets — will compete for the other seat, which became vacant when Chris Towne resigned from the board this month.
Longtime board members Bob Beeman and Brian Kellogg aren’t up for re-election this year.
This is the third straight year Douglass has run for the select board; he lost to Bickford in 2018 and Kellogg in 2019.
Nolan, a former state legislator, is chair of the Morristown Development Review Board. Streets, a former planning council member, is also on the development board.
Voters will also fill three seats on the seven-member Lamoille South school board, which oversees schools in Elmore, Morristown and Stowe. Two of the open seats are designated for Stowe residents; Norm Williams and Erica Loomis, who were appointed to the board late in 2019, are running for re-election. The other open seat is designated for a Morristown resident; incumbent Karen Cleary is not running, and Morristown Town Clerk Sara Haskins said no one turned in a candidate petition before the Jan. 27 deadline. So, the seat could be filled through write-in votes; a minimum of 30 write-ins is required for election. If no one qualifies, then the rest of the school board can appoint a new member.
Other Morristown offices will be filled by votes from the floor at town meeting. Haskins is running for another three-year term as town clerk and town treasurer. Single-year positions that will be filled include first and second constable, two library trustees, two listers, a trustee of public finds, grand juror, and town agents to convey real estate and prosecute and defend cases.
Voters will consider the Morristown budget proposal in pieces.
The biggest item will be the base budget of $5.8 million, and an additional $200,000 or so will be considered separately.
The base budget is 4.5 percent higher than current spending. The select board trimmed sidewalk construction from $50,000 to $39,000, but will use reserve funds to complete the work this year. The board also decided against increasing the police budget, since it anticipates hiring another full-time officer in the near future, and decided not to add $20,000 to the reserve fund to replace bridges. Typically, the town budgets $30,000 a year for that fund, but the Halloween storm that caused washouts and closed roads all over town severely depleted the fund, and the board briefly considered a $50,000 allocation, but axed the idea.
The board also rejected adding an extra 1 cent to the property-tax rate for the highway equipment reserve fund — it typically adds 1 cent per year — and a half-cent for the Morristown Conservation Commission’s land-conservation efforts. Each of those possible increases would have been voted on as a special article at town meeting.
Voters will decide whether to add 1 cent to the tax rate for a fire department reserve fund, 1 cent for a highway reserve fund, and half a cent to continue repairs to the Noyes House Museum.
A separate money article requests $113,969 to help support nonprofits and service agencies in the Lamoille County area.
Morristown does not calculate the budget’s impact on the property-tax rate, but Finance Director Tina Sweet indicated late last year that the value of Morristown’s taxable property has risen significantly in the last year, which means property taxes will be spread out over a broader tax base.
Other items for town meeting:
• A nonbinding resolution would “strongly support the completion of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail,” and urge the state government to develop a plan to do so. Similar articles are proposed in other towns.
• The select board is asking voters to establish a new reserve fund; if the town has a surplus, the money would go into the fund to help defray future expenses.
Morristown’s town business meeting starts at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 3, in the gymnasium at Peoples Academy.
Election polls will be open March 3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Morristown municipal building on Portland Street.