DOVER -- Residents gathered in Dover Hall on Tuesday to find out what's behind the 24 articles being posed to voters this year.
Voters were told by School Board Chairman Rich Werner that Article 3 had been approved last year, which would add Burr and Burton School to the list of high schools that Dover students could attend and receive financial assistance from the town. The other high schools include Twin Valley High School, Brattleboro Union High School and Leland & Gray Union High School.
"It was petitioned last year," said Werner. "If it's a successful petition, we don't make (them) petition again. We put it back into the warning and it has to be voted on each year by state statute."
Selectboard member Randy Terk asked, "Was there a good reason why the other three schools were unacceptable or is it because there was enough people who wanted it at Town Meeting?"
Werner said that a group of parents came in to petition the article. It was approved 84-60 last year.
"If I think it (the tuition) should be paid by the parents, I would vote this down?" asked a voter. Werner said yes.
It is difficult to show the impact of Article 4, which asks voters to help pay the tuition for other independent and private schools, he said.
"This is less than (we pay for) Twin Valley," said Selectboard member Victoria Capitani. "For independent or private schools, the tuition is lower than Twin Valley. It's all kind of relative,
On Town Meeting Day, Werner said the cost on property tax for the particular articles would be available.
"If we vote (Article) 4 in, we're going to ask you to increase the budget in Article 8 with whatever amount," said Werner.
About 19 to 20 students will be going to another school besides the 17 going to the approved private school Burr and Burton and another 40 going to the public schools.
"The numbers will always be the same," said Werner. "The names will always change."
Burr and Burton allows any Dover student to attend its school and Stratton Mountain School most likely has the same acceptance policy when it comes to Dover residents, said town officials.
The Capital Vehicle Fund in Article 7 was also discussed. Werner said the school system currently owns two large buses and it would be "seven or eight years until we need to do a bus replacement."
Members of the Dover School Board mentioned that they had looked into forming a new supervisory union to better fit its needs, but had been unsuccessful for a variety of reasons.
Article 9 addresses the homestead tax rate, which is meant to offset the tax rate, "so there is no huge increase in any one year," Werner said.
Building renovations at Dover School was another item of interest at Pre-Town Meeting.
"We thought we could leverage some money into enlarging the gym," Werner said. He mentioned that the board was looking to turn it into a place for the community to gather for special events, such as Town Meeting, which used to be held at the school.
Improved and faster Internet service will be coming to Dover School, too. Werner said the gym could be used as a business center or a place to work on economic development in the future.
The Dover Selectboard then took over and discussed each article. The public wanted to hear what improvements were being done in town, which was in reference to Article 17. It asks voters to raise and appropriate $100,000 for the Capital Building Improvement Fund.
"We're re-paving the (Town Offices) parking lot in. There's cracks around the edges," said Selectboard member Tom Baltrus. "We want to purchase a dish washer for Town Hall kitchen operation, do roof work at the West Dover Fire House and pave the parking lot there."
He also said that at the Dover Police Department building, a ceiling needs to be fixed and a water pump may need to be replaced.
"It's mostly paving and infrastructure," said Baltrus.
Selectboard Chairwoman Linda Holland said the funds were being used to raise money to spread costs over several years and create stability in the tax rate.
Article 18 asks voters to support a Legal Defense Fund, which the board credits Selectboard member Buzzy Buswell with creating and with a certain purpose in mind. The fund is to be able to fight legal battles in the future, such as when the state increases property taxes for educational purposes, but doesn't follow through on a quality of education study that it was supposed to address.
"We just keep hitting our heads against the wall in Montpelier," said Buswell. "The lobbyists are doing their job, but nothing's getting done. Enough is enough."
"To get anything to change, it is my feeling that you got to get your issue in front of the legislators," said Baltrus.
Colby Dix, who had served on the Dover Selectboard in the past, came to present the public with information on Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies, or SeVEDS. He has been part of the organization for about two years. Article 19 addresses funding assistance for SeVEDS.
Dix said the organization's biggest goal has been to get a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy document together. SeVEDS has already received major funding from the state for the CEDS document.
"It shows comprehensively what is and isn't going on," said Dix. "We approached Brattleboro for funding back in August. They approved $50,000 to our organization, but it was quid pro quo to match funding from all other towns in the gave. They gave us $25,000 up front and would give us the other after similar amounts of money came in."
SeVEDS representatives have approached Selectboards from around the region with a plan to petition voters and receive $3 from each resident's taxes.
"We had a really good response throughout the region," said Dix. Residents will meet again on Town Meeting to vote. It will be held at Dover Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.