Wednesday March 11, 2015
On a cold and windy Tuesday, March 3, 2015, just under a quarter of South Burlington’s registered voters took to the polls to decide the future of their tax budgets and their council and school board representation.
Of the 11,669 registered voters in one of Vermont’s most populous cities, 2,701 ballots were cast (23.15 percent). The turnout was not as high as 2013’s 28 percent, but hovered around average participation in recent years. Last year, the turnout was 24.38 percent.
The small number of individuals who cast their votes were apparently feeling good about the budgets presented, as both the city and school budgets passed. The city budget passed by 62.81 percent (1,662 votes for, 984 against), thus adopting the city’s FY2016 total budget of $35,651,415 ($13,272,284 of which will be raised by local property taxes). The city budget will incur a tax rate increase of 3.15 cents. Increase for the average condominium valued at $226,000 for tax and utility combined will be $77.06 annually or $6.42 monthly. The total increase for the average home valued at $330,000 for tax and utility combined will be $125.39 annually or $10.45 per month.
The school budget passed with a smaller margin of approval. The budget was supported by the approval of 53.92 percent of those who voted, with 1,432 ballots in favor, and 1,224 opposed. Last year, the school budget passed by just 133 votes compared to this year’s 208. The approval of the budget triggers the South Burlington School District to appropriate $45,747,228 for its schools. The school budget represents a tax rate increase of 0.0261 cents. The average condominium owner will see a $59 increase or $4.90 monthly and the average homeowner will see an $86 increase or $7.19 monthly prior to income sensitivity.
District 7-4, which encompasses the Chamberlin School neighborhood, was the only area that had a majority vote against the school budget. This district narrowly voted the budget down with a 52 vote distance between those who voted yes (292) and those who voted no (344).
In the city council election Tom Chittenden secured the remaining two years of a three year city council seat with 1,512 votes. Chittenden defeated his opponent, Tracey Harrington by 435 votes (1077). Incumbents Helen Riehle and Pat Nowak sought three and two year terms respectively. They ran unopposed and will both keep their seats.
In school board elections, incumbent Elizabeth Fitzgerald, who will return for another three-year term as board chair, and Patrick Leduc was elected for a two year term. Both Fitzgerald and Leduc ran unopposed.
Also unopposed was Donna Kinville who was re-elected for a three year term for City Clerk.
This year, there were 452 absentee ballots cast and the total number of active voters for 2015 was 11,069.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent