It was all “ayes” at Waterbury’s town meeting on Tuesday, as voters approved all articles and expenditures as proposed.
Most passed with little discussion, some with none.
Town Moderator Jeff Kilgore, who was elected to another one-year term at the beginning of the meeting, asked the audience politely to “not show approval or disapproval after someone speaks.” The remark drew friendly laughter and compliance for the rest of the morning.
The most-discussed topic involved Waterbury’s Energy Plan, which the select board adopted in 2019.
Several voters urged the town to appoint a committee to “assist elected municipal officials and staff to implement the Energy Plan.”
“This is a proactive way to implement this plan,” said Steve Lotspeich, Waterbury’s community planner, “and bring our community into the future.”
Select board Chair Chris Viens agreed, offering insights from a recent NOVA documentary called “Polar Extremes.” The film, he said, had a lot of relevant information about climate change.
“It’s difficult to deny we’re faced with the issues,” he said. “We’re not in a bubble here.”
Voters approved forming the committee.
In face, environmentalism was a theme through the whole meeting. John Malter of Waterbury, administrator of the Mad River Resource Management Alliance, commended Waterbury on its commitment to recycling and waste management.
As he hobbled up to the stage, using on a crutch, he joked, “Nobody said it was easy working in solid waste!”
Malter also commended the community for its Green Up Day efforts. “It ain’t cheap to do the right thing,” he said. Regardless, 15.5 tons of tires were collected for recycling during the event, enough tires for more than 300 vehicles.
$5.5 million budget
The new budget totals $5,513,075, with $4,199,900 coming from property taxes, $1,254,720 from sources other than property taxes, and $58,450 from a previous budget surplus.
Of the total, $2,281,230 is going into funds earmarked to pay for paving, infrastructure, vehicles and recreation.
The budget will boost the municipal property-tax rate by four cents, to 55 cents per $100 of property value. That adds $80 to the tax bill for a $200,000 house.
Town Manager William Shepeluk said the town government is running a $96,255 deficit this budget year, a result of unpaid taxes the year before.
Because of the deficit, “2020 will be our most difficult year,” he said.
A century of service
Every year, Waterbury residents present the Community Service Award to honor the memory of Keith A. Wallace, a beloved public servant and town moderator.
This year, the 25th year of the award, the recipients are a husband and wife pair, Annie and Everett Coffey.
Neither was able to attend the meeting for health reasons, so their daughter Sally Dillon accepted the award on their behalf.
Since arriving in Waterbury in October 1962, the Coffeys have spent more than 100 years combined in service to the town and village of Waterbury, working through many different organizations.
Among them have been the Waterbury Ambulance Service, the former village trustees, the select board and Central Vermont Crime Stoppers.