Town Meeting in Hyde Park

A few sparks flew at an otherwise mellow Hyde Park town meeting on Tuesday.

One contentious proposal would have authorized the select board to research the idea of allowing it to appoint the town clerk and treasurer, now an elected position.

“This is one of the worst articles I think I’ve ever seen in a town report,” Hyde Park resident Deanna Judkins said. “There are 3,000-plus registered voters, and if we can make the decision to have a good town clerk/treasurer, then we don’t need the select board to make that decision for us.”

Resident Jack Anderson agreed, saying the change would take power away from the community.
“Today, I am asking this town meeting to vote ‘hell no’ on Article 6 because it is giving away our rights to vote,” he said.

After many other residents chimed in, select board member Susan Bartlett reminded them that the article was an authorization just to research the idea, and many other Vermont towns are looking at the idea, too.

Even so, the idea was rejected overwhelmingly.

Voters also rejected a proposal to hold the town meeting at the newly renovated Hyde Park Elementary School, rather than Lamoille Union High School. Many people who favored the change said it would be nice to show more interest in a building that Hyde Park taxpayers support.

Others, including select board member David Gagnier, said the elementary school has a limited amount of space and it would be difficult to hold a town meeting there.

Money Issues
With little opposition, residents approved the town budget of $2,643,000, of which $2,184,700 will come from property taxes and $458,300 from revenue from other sources. That’s a 4.46 percent increase from the prior budget.

Voters approved $17,500 for the North Hyde Park Gihon Valley Hall Project, $2,000 to Lamoille County Mental Health Services, and an additional $1,500 to the Lamoille Family Center and Healthy Lamoille Valley, bringing the total annual appropriation to $3,000.

Paul Vesky was elected moderator for one year, Ed French was elected town agent for one year, Nioka Houston was elected cemetery commissioner for five years and Emily Dearborn was elected a library trustee for five years.

Several other local elections were decided in all-day ballot voting at the polls.
Elected without opposition were incumbent Roland Boivin to the select board, newcomer Brian Shackett to the select board and incumbent Patti Hayford to the Lamoille North school board.
Matthew Reed was also elected as a lister; no one ran for a second lister position.