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Town Meeting
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Vernon To Meet Again For Town Meeting, Part Three

Susan Keese
The town of Vernon is cutting the police force in an effort to trim the municipal budget.

In a surprise move, voters in Vernon slashed the town’s police force from the budget Tuesday night.

In the second night of their town meeting, Vernon approved a municipal budget of $1.8 million. That’s almost $300,000 less than the budget drafted by the town’s select board.

At the end of an evening marked by points of order, paper ballots and heavy debate, voters agreed to meet again for a third installment of town meeting Wednesday night.

The town’s $4.4 million school budget was also narrowly defeated in a vote by Australian Ballot.

Vernon State Representative Mike Hebert is a member of the Vernon School Board.

Hebert chalks it all up to uncertainty over what will happen when Entergy Vermont Yankee, Vernon’s biggest taxpayer, closes in December.

“We don’t know how much value’s going to be left while the plant’s in safestor. We don’t know what that’s going to do to our grand list. People are trying to be prudent, but I think the lack of knowledge about the future is really the reason people cut the police department and things like that,” Hebert said.

Hebert said the school budget is going to be hard to cut. The only expenditures within the town’s control are in the elementary school.  Hebert doesn’t know whether staff positions will be eliminated. But he said the board will have to send out reduction in force notices to school staff in case layoffs are necessary.

“Which is never a good thing because it creates uncertainty in the school. But certainly you do have to notify them of the potential,” Hebert said.

Voters who return for the third part of the meeting will consider the town’s library budget, social service funding and purchasing a new fire truck.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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