Monday, March 3, 2008

Town Meeting Well-Attended, Uncontroversial

Ripton residents passed school and town budgets on unanimous voice votes Monday night, at a meeting that saw no real controversy.

Lured in part by a pre-meeting dessert social, a crowd filled the community house, and eleven students from the North Branch School watched from the balcony. Five students from the elementary school, led by Nola Kevra, opened the meeting with a rendition of "Swinging on a Star."

The school meeting was first this year, and besides the regular budget, which increased 2.56 percent, residents approved $2,700 from the capital projects fund to help pay for regrading and improving the athletic field adjoining the school. Private donations and contributions from the Friends of the Ripton School will help cover the balance of the $11,000 cost.

When the meeting turned to the town budget, residents approved the $409,000 spending plan without serious debate. A few meeting-goers voted no on a proposal to create an as-yet unfunded reserve fund--the selectboard promised more details next year before money is actually allocated, saying such a fund could come in handy for unforeseen expenses.

The fire budget was passed unanimously, and fire chief Erik Eriksen reported a dramatic decrease in the number of fire and ambulance calls in the past year.

State Rep. Willem Jewett offered a few words on debate so far in the State Legislature, describing a session dominated by the difficulty of dealing with flat revenues and rapidly rising costs. In particular, he said, twenty percent annual increases in the cost of road construction was constraining the state's ability to complete projects.

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