Sunderland voters set town, highway budgets

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SUNDERLAND — Town meeting voters set aside $151,500 for highway maintenance-related funds, and a sum yet to be determined for a salt shed reserve fund, at Town Meeting on Monday night.

The session, at Sunderland Elementary School, finished up in 45 minutes - and that included 10 minutes of "other business." The town's proposed budget of $250,138 and its highway budget of $369,900 both passed overwhelmingly in Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, according to unofficial results provided by town clerk Rose Keough.

Voters also cast ballots on write-in candidates for Select Board on Tuesday. Town resident Connor Stewart had already expressed his willingness to stand for office, and won election for one of the available seats.

A second potential board member, Robert Zens, voiced his willingness to serve at Town Meeting on Monday night. But voters penciled in Zens second behind Stewart for one of the two seats on the ballot, and Stewart won the second opening as well. That likely leaves it up to the board to appoint Zens when it holds its organizational meeting.

Zens volunteered after outgoing chair Mark Hyde made a pitch for serving on the board to the 35 or so voters who gathered in the school gym.

"Anyone can do it. You don't have to be an expert ... you just have to have a willingness to do it," Hyde said.

Sunderland has had difficulty attracting volunteers for boards, but there were more interest from voters on Monday night. James Ayrey said he'd stand for grand juror and town agent. And new town moderator Cindy Herrmann said she'd stand for auditor as well as for moderator next year, as former moderator Sally Ayrey has stepped down.

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Herrmann appeared to have won election to both, as she was leading vote-getter for two available auditor terms and easily won as moderator.

Among the appropriations meeting with voter approval were $65,000 each for the highway equipment and paving reserve funds; $15,000 for the highway reserve fund; and $1,500 for the guardrail reserve fund.

Town clerk Rose Keough explained to voters that the money is needed up front so that the town can pay its share of grant funding, and then be reimbursed.

The town needs to have the cash on hand in order to take advantage of those grants, she said.

Another new fund, established by voters and to be funded with any leftover money in the highway fund at the end of fiscal 2019, will be put aside for the town to eventually build a larger salt shed.

Select Board member Rick Timmerman said the town currently has enough capacity for two storms' worth of road salt. The idea is to increase capacity so the town can have half a winter's road salt on hand at any given time.

"If we have storms and we can't get delivery, we're out of salt," he said.

Most items passed with no opposition at all. Only a few voters said "nay" to a proposal to grant a five-year tax exemption to Camp Ondawa.


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