Hartland school budget revote set for Tuesday

By CHRISTINA DOLAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-22-2024 7:01 PM

Modified: 05-31-2024 11:28 AM


HARTLAND — Hartland residents will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote on a proposed $11.1 million school budget for the second time this year.

The operating budget passed, 320-311, on April 2. The School Board did not make any changes to the operating budget for next week’s vote. Voters will be asked to decide on the same budget that was on the ballot last month. 

Following the April election, Hartland residents Randy Shambo, Jr. and Ben Sirois began to circulate a petition for a revote. The petition collected verified signatures from the necessary 5% of the town’s 2,960 registered voters, and the School Board set a new date for a second round of balloting.

Shambo said last month that he opposes the budget because of its potential tax impacts, and he thinks that the low voter turnout and narrow margin of victory merit a revote. 

The proposed budget is expected to result in a tax rate of $2.32 per $100 of property value, for a home assessed at $250,000, would mean a tax rate of $5,800. That’s up from a rate of $1.82 for the current year.

Although the percentages vary from year to year, “on average, 65 to 70% of Hartland residents receive some state payments” that mitigate their tax bills, Hartland lister Stacey Bradley said in an interview Wednesday. Vermonters with incomes under $128,000 qualify for income-based tax adjustments.

The budget is the only article on Tuesday’s ballot. A $10,000 transfer from the capital reserve fund to address safety concerns on the elementary school playground passed, 443-187, on April 2 and will not be revoted. 

Hartland’s school budget is typically voted on Town Meeting Day in March, but this has been an unusual year. Increased health care costs, facilities needs, and the expiration of federal pandemic-related funding drove up spending at schools throughout Vermont, straining the state’s education fund. 

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Hartland’s board in January warned a budget of $11.5 million, then later rescinded it to make spending cuts. 

Hartland Town Clerk John Paulette said he hopes to see more voters at Damon Hall on Tuesday than in April. “I want to drive voter participation up as high as we can,” he said in a telephone interview this week. 

The number of requests for absentee ballots has nearly doubled compared with the April election, which he said he finds encouraging. 

Balloting will take place on Tuesday, May 28 at Damon Hall from 7a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters may drop off absentee ballots in a ballot box located outside the building any time before 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Christina Dolan can be reached at cdolan@vnews.com or 603-727-3208.

CORRECTION: The budget presented to voters in Hartland’s May 28 ballo ting was expected to result in a tax rate of $2.32 per $100 of property value, up from a rate of $1.82 for the current year. A previous version of this story misstated the tax rate for the next year’s proposed school budget.