Elodie Reed, St. Albans Messenger
ST. ALBANS — Voters in Franklin County go to the polls today to determine some unusual races and to decide some issues of important local consequence.
In St. Albans City and Enosburgh, municipal boards’ incumbents are being challenged by their predecessors while Richford and Georgia each have three-way contests for their selectboards.
St. Albans Town residents are voting on a one percent sales tax while Highgate voters consider a $1.3 million ice arena bond
Incumbents in Richford, Enosburgh, Georgia, St. Albans City and Town face challengers. In Richford, selectboard members Linda Collins and Harold Foote, Jr., are facing two challengers each. James Guilmette and Carl Wetherby are challenging current chair Collins for her three-year seat, while Tim Green and Robert St. Pierre are looking to unseat Foote.
In St. Albans City, Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Young is being challenged in his quest for a second term by his city council predecessor Scott Corrigan. In Ward 3, political newcomer Tammi DiFranco is challenging incumbent Aaron O’Grady.
In St. Albans Town, incumbent selectmen Bill Nihan and Steve Coon also face challengers. Coon is up against Bruce Cheeseman for the two-year seat, and Nihan, the board’s vice chair, is going head to head with Stanley Dukas for the three year seat. All four candidates have said improving town-city relations through better communication is a key goal.
Georgia incumbent Ric Nye will face Suzanna Brown and Matt Crepault in a bid to keep his three-year seat on the selectboard. The two top vote getters in a second three-way contest will secure one year terms on the board. Matt Crawford and David Vincent, Sr., are joining incumbent Tara Wright in the contest over the one year terms.
Former Enosburgh Selectboard chair Craig Snow stepped down from the board last fall, and Larry Fisk was elected to his seat in a special election. Now Fisk is running for re-election and facing a single challenger – Craig Snow.
In Fairfax, former town office assistant Fran Conlon is challenging former selectboard member Peter King.
A hot topic on this year’s St. Albans Town ballot is Article 4, which proposes to implement a one percent local option tax on all sales already taxed by the state. Voters said no to the tax last year, but the wording of the article has been changed on this year’s ballot. It specifies that the revenue collected from the tax would be put towards town infrastructure projects that will become more necessary as commercial and local development continues. The article is simply an approval of the tax – any projects the collected money would fund would have to be presented to and voted on by residents.
Highgate voters are being asked to approve a $1.3 million bond to refurbish the Highgate arena, but the bond will only be taken out if the town is able to raise $1.5 million in private funds. Last year, a plan for a tri-town arena jointly owned by Highgate, Franklin and Swanton was nixed by Swanton voters.
Voters in Highgate are voting on whether to join the Northwest Solid Waste District, while in Alburgh voters are considering exiting the district.
In Richford, voters will have the option to approve $25,000 in funding for town police services. The funding would go toward fulfilling a recently signed contract between the Franklin County Sheriff Department, the town selectboard and the school board, which proposes a community police officer to be split between the town and school. If voters approve the funding, the contract goes in effect July 1, 2014. Without the funding, the contract can be terminated within a 90-day period that ends April 14.
A nonbinding resolution in support of a public bank is on the ballot in Enosburgh as Article 4. If approved, the town would join many others in Vermont asking state legislature to create a publicly owned bank to keep loans, interest, and funds local.
Looking ahead to Enosburg Falls’ Town Meeting next week, voters will decide on a $160,000 renovation of the conference center at 16 Village Drive. Funds are proposed to come from the village’s general, electric, water and wastewater funds.
Australian ballot voting in area towns continues until 7 tonight.