Hartford Defeats Local Option Tax, Passes Cooperative Recreational Spending

2012.AnnualReport.Cover.ColorBy Amy Kolb Noyes

Hartford voters get together for their annual town and school district meetings on Saturday, April 6. However a number of questions were decided last Tuesday – Vermont’s traditional Town Meeting Day – via the polls. Hartford ballot voters approved a slate of spending items, but decided against a local option tax that might have helped pay for the projects.

The proposed town charter change to allow for a local one cent tax was defeated by a vote of 606 to 980. However voters approved a $4.9 million bond to renovate the town offices by a vote of 860 to 714. And through questions on both the town and school district ballots, voters approved a total of $8,990,000 in spending to improve existing recreational facilities throughout the town.

The recreational bond vote was split between a $5,740,000 question on the town ballot and a $3,259,000 question on the school ballot. To secure the bond, both questions needed to pass. The following article passed on both ballots:

Shall the Town of Hartford and the Hartford School District each issue general obligation bonds in an aggregate amount not to exceed $8,990,000, subject to reduction from the receipt of any state or federal funds, for the purpose of funding the construction of new and/or the renovation of existing recreational facilities including but not limited to; athletic fields and appurtenances thereto at the so-called Maxfield property ($3,100,000), renovations to the Wendell A. Barwood Arena ($2,500,000), construction of a new pump house and children’s pool ($140,000) adjacent to the Sherman Manning pool, renovation of the Middle School gym ($900,000), construction of a new track with an all-weather turf infield ($800,000) and a new Field House ($1,550,000) adjacent to the existing High School, such aggregate amount of bonded indebtedness to be apportioned as follows: Town of Hartford $5,740,000, Hartford Town School District $3,250,000. This bonding authority shall be subject to and require approval by both the Town of Hartford and the Hartford School District Meetings.

Both town and school officials, in Hartford’s annual report, lauded the joint effort. The select board’s report stated:

For many years there has been little in the way of a cooperative relationship between the Board of Selectmen and the Hartford School Directors. Projects and opportunities that could have been done jointly were given little consideration until 2012 when each board, in its respective way, realized there are opportunities to work together for the benefit of the community worthy or being explored.

And school district Superintendent Tom DeBalsi wrote in his report:

The joint bond proposal on this year’s ballot stands out as one of my proudest accomplishments since beginning here in July of 2011. Not that I am solely responsible for it, I am not, but that I had a part in it even being on the ballot! The incentive for the town and school to work together on items of mutual importance and benefit has been one of my goals since I began as Superintendent.

The select board also noted funds have been included in the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget for the Superintendent and the Town Manager “to examine ways to combine common functions or departments with an eye towards increased efficiency and cost saving.”