Things started pretty much on time. I was there on time but lingered outside for a few. I found a seat as the moderator was reading the warning for the meeting. I didn’t miss anything I already knew.
The first two articles were to be voted on the following day at the town hall. The first was the school budget, the second was a vote to remove the position of town auditor. We are supposed to have three auditors but no one has run for it since 2004. Not a critical position, apparently. Or a desired one.
I was curious about what discussion might ensue regarding the budget. There was some discussion about salary increases for town employees. The budget called for a 5% increase in all salaries and a few people expressed concern that this was too high. It does seen high. Who gets 5% when most people have a freeze on their salaries? The general budget passed anyway.
Other discussion points were why we need a new dumptruck after only ten years (they get worked hard and repairs begin to outpace the value of just paying for a new one), why the police budget included funds for a new car when it did the last two years as well (it is a regular part of that budget to plan for a new purchase every other year) and the wind turbine at the library. This last started producing power last year but the electric line in that budget goes up every year. “Is this thing getting us anything?” someone asked. It provides 10% of the library’s power even as more use of the library means more electricity use. That was installed at no cost to the town, so it is all essentially a gain.
The biggest discussion item was a petitioned article to vote to close the Yankee Nuclear Power Plant when it is scheduled to close in 2012. There were some strong feelings on both sides, including discussion of how to replace the power that the state would lose and how much electricity costs might rise without the plant. Ultimately it got a yes voice vote. Many other towns voted on the same article and passed it. I voted yes on this one. What would we say if there were an accident down the line with this oldest (in the world) of active power plants? This sure is bad to have all this radioactivity all over the place, but it sure was worth it to save a few cents per kilowatt hour?
And that was about it. We voted to support local charities and the land trust and to set aside funds for conservation. And it was good to see at least a sampling of fellow Hinesburgers. Not enough people were there, of course, given the town’s population, but at the auditorium at Champlain Valley Union High School was mostly full. It didn’t run all that late but, nonetheless, the voice vote to adjourn was the loudest of all.cy