Springfield voters approve fiscal 2022 school and town budgets

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Town Meeting Day looked a little different across Vermont as many towns opted for virtual informational meetings and voting on budgets by Australian ballot on Tuesday.

Springfield While Springfield votes by Australian ballot every year, even the town felt the impact of the Covid-19 related virtual meeting. Town moderator Larry Kraft led the meeting from Springfield Town Hall while members of the Selectboard, School Board, and area organization representatives spoke over Zoom from their homes.

Springfield residents could participate in the meeting over Zoom or by phone. They could also watch it live on the SAPA TV channels or online stream, courtesy of Lawrence and Wheeler who underwrote the production.

An added bonus to the online meeting was the ability for presenters to share their screen so that the public could see a PowerPoint presentation for the town and school budget. While there were few moments of technical difficulties, the meeting went along seamlessly; however, there were no public comments about either budget this year.

On Tuesday, March 2, voting took place as usual at the Riverside Middle School gymnasium. Around 1,315 Springfield residents voted, including 670 absentee ballots this year.

The voters approved Larry Kraft as town and school district moderator. Everett Hammond (739 votes) and incumbent Walter Martone (701) were voted to three-year seats on the Springfield Selectboard. Troy Palmer (642) and Stephen Karaffa (591) were reelected to three-year terms on the Springfield School Board. Several elected officer positions ran unopposed, including Suzette Chivers for a Library Trustee three-year term, Claire Trask for Library Trustee one-year term, Marc Aube for Trustee of Public Funds three-year term, Beth Gray for Cemetery Commissioner five-year term, Terry Perkins for Lister three-year term, and Paul Stagner for First Constable one-year term.

Springfield voters also voted 832 “yes” to 445 “no” for a fiscal year 2022 budget of $12,845,413. The budget is a 0.5% increase from last year. The voters also approved an additional $700,000 for repaving and road construction and $100,000 for sidewalk reconstruction.

In a break from the previous two years, Springfield voted 734 to 548 to approve the fiscal 2022 Springfield School District budget of $32,431,509 with educational spending of $18,324 per pupil. On Monday, Troy Palmer reported that this budget was level-funded with only $7.6 million to be raised by taxes.

The School Board also anticipates that the school district will be fully back to in-school learning in the fall. Regarding the music, art, and physical education positions that were cut to half-time, Palmer noted that the School Board would reconsider moving those positions back to full-time if or when the enrollment of those programs goes up.

Springfield also voted on and approved the creation of an operating expense reserve fund – with an initial transfer of $400,000 from a fiscal 2020 surplus – for the School Board to use pay operating expenses that were not anticipated during budget preparation.

Articles 12 through 26 regarding appropriating funds to area social services organizations were all approved as well.

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