GUILFORD -- At this year's Town Meeting in Guilford, "other business" is much more than a footnote.
With a relatively uneventful slate of articles for voter consideration, town officials will take time at the end of their portion of the meeting to discuss important upcoming issues including a possible townwide reappraisal and a merger with Algiers Fire District No. 1.
"Because we have a pretty straightforward series of articles, it's a good time," Selectboard member Anne Rider said.
Added Town Administrator Katie Buckley: "It's a good opportunity to educate a captive audience."
This year, there are no divisive Guilford issues comparable to last year's vote on closing the town's middle school. After much debate, a majority of voters decided to tuition Guilford's seventh- and eighth-graders to Brattleboro Area Middle School.
The 2014 Town Meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Guilford Central School. Australian Ballot voting on town and school offices is scheduled between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, also at the school gymnasium.
There are no contested races for any of those offices. And the Town Meeting warning consists mostly of standard articles. So on Monday, Selectboard members decided to tackle several weighty issues under the "other business" portion at meeting's end.
That includes talk of a possible reappraisal, with officials noting that they've already heard some concerns from residents.
"The more we keep talking about that, it may soften the blow for some people," Selectboard member Troy Revis said.
In their annual report, Selectboard members wrote that the last townwide reappraisal was completed in 2005.
"While not at the point that the state will require a new reappraisal of Guilford, enough time has elapsed since 2005 that the listers and Selectboard agree it would be in the town's best interest to start to think about this process once again," officials wrote. "No date has been set to formally begin this project, but we wanted to give all taxpayers a 'heads-up' well in advance. Please expect talk about this topic to continue and grow."
The discontinuance of Algiers Fire District is another "other business" topic. Formed in the early 1990s to administer a sewer system in Algiers Village, the district is no longer needed and might be merged with the town, officials say.
The district was the victim of embezzlement a few years ago, and its former treasurer has been sentenced to federal prison for that crime.
Since that incident, "the town of Guilford has been the primary entity managing both the finances and administration of the Algiers Fire District," the Selectboard report says. "While the (fire district's) prudential committee is intact, they have struggled with no participation from the district's membership, and they are tired. During their 2012 annual meeting, they unanimously voted to move ahead with measures to merge the district with the town of Guilford if the town will support it."
Selectboard members added that "we agree with the district's desire for a merger between AFD #1 and the town because the sewer system is a self-supporting enterprise, meaning all of the fees collected (from) the users fund its operation. There would be no additional burden on the town's budget if it were to absorb AFD's operations; in fact, it will reduce the workload already being done by town office staff."
If the merger moves forward, Rider said, there will be public meetings and eventually a town vote on the matter.
Also up for discussion is the possibility of forming a volunteer commission to oversee and advance recreational opportunities in Guilford.
Rider has said the idea might make sense, given the interest in recreation expressed during a recent community-visioning process in the town.
Regarding formation of a recreation commission, "there would be no motion because it's not a warned article" at Town Meeting, Rider said.
"We would just see if there's interest," she added.
Selectboard members said other topics that may be addressed at the end of town meeting are the pending closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon and the upcoming mandates of Act 148, a state law aimed at increasing recycling rates.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.