Friday March 1, 2013

PUTNEY -- At Town Meeting this year, Putney voters will decide if they want to spend an extra $40,000 to support a full-time Windham County Sheriff deputy in 2013.

For the past four years the town has had a full-time deputy thanks to a federal Department of Justice grant, which is expiring in September, and now the Selectboard wants voters to decide if the town should come up with the extra money next year to continue the service.

A "yes" vote would add about 2 cents to the tax rate.

The Selectboard has included $20,000 in the general fund budget to cover part-time coverage, and if the full-time service is rejected, the town would receive about 15 hours police protection through fiscal year 2014.

Westminster voters, on Saturday, will consider increasing their Windham County Sheriff contract and entering into a partnership with Putney to bring more service to both towns. Putney's financial obligation could be less next year if Westminster voters approves their contract expansion Saturday. Details on the two-town contract would be worked out after Town Meeting.

Putney's decision to come up with the extra money to cover the police service comes during an already tight economic year, as the tax rate is projected to jump by about 8 percent under the proposed budget.

Operating expenses are only up about 1 percent, but after spending down surplus funds over the past few years to help defray expenses, there is no extra money left this year to help control the tax rate.

Voting on the extra police service will come from the floor of Town Meeting.

Town Meeting voters also will be asked to consider spending $100,000 to replace the sidewalk tractor, a loan which would be repaid over a five-year period.

The town also will consider a resolution opposing the transportation of tar sands oil in Vermont.

There are no contested races in Putney this year, though Selectboard member Brad King, who was first elected to the board in 2007, is not running.

Stephen Hed is running unopposed for a three-year seat on the board.

Ben Cragin, who was first elected to the school board in 2006, also has decided not to run.

Dylan Devlin and Alice Laughlin are running unopposed for the school board, and there is another open seat without a candidate.

A write-in candidate could be elected for that position, or the school board could appoint a member later in the year if the position is not filled.

Putney's Town Meeting will be held Tuesday, March 5, starting at 10 a.m. at the Putney Central School gym.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.