Newport Voters Turn Down Funds for New Rec Center
Updated: May 16
By ARCHIE MOUNTAIN
NEWPORT -- A bid to construct a new Recreation Center in Newport fell short by 134 votes at the annual Town Meeting voting session Tuesday.
It even failed to receive a majority support, ending up on the losing side by 10 votes, 642 Yes to 652 No. It required a three-fifths positive majority to pass.
Article 6 sought voter support to raise and appropriate $8,651,000 to pay for the design, construction and equipping of a proposed new recreation center on Meadow Road at the location of the current Newport Little League field.
Of that amount, $4,651,000 was earmarked to come from private donations, public and/or private grants and other sources aside from municipal taxation and the remaining $4,000,000 to come from the issuance of bonds or notes.
All other articles on the Town Meeting warrant passed including one that was Not Recommended by the Board of Selectmen and Budget Advisory Committee and two others that were Not Recommended by the Board of Selectmen but Recommended by the Budget Advisory Committee.
In the race for Selectman, newcomer James C. Burroughs, Newport's former Chief of Police, led the way with 957 votes. Veteran Selectman Jeffrey Kessler was re-elected to a three-year term with 478 votes. Trailing was Douglas Ring with 420 votes.
There were 1,298 ballots cast, a 37 percent voter turnout, with 42 absentee votes and 60 voters who registered at the polls. Voting was held at the Newport Middle High School Gymnasium.
Others on the ballot included Virginia O'Brien Irwin, Moderator, 1,072 votes; Karen J. Doucette, Supervisor of the Checklist, 1,106 votes and David McCriills, Trustee of Trust Funds, 1,157.
The final article on the ballot that was not recommended by the Selectmen or Budget Advisory Committee passed by one vote, 630-629. That Article was submitted by petition and requested $85,000 to modify the current shift schedule at the Newport Fire Department and would allow for two career firefighters per shift. That appropriation was projected to impact the tax rate by 19 cents.
Aticle14, submitted by petition, also got the Recommendation of the Budget Advisory Committee but not the Selectmen and passed, 789-463. That request sought $4,000 to help support the home health, maternal and child health and hospice care provided in patients' homes and in community settings by Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire. The tax impact was 1 cent.
Also passing, 665-581, was Article 16, backed by the Budget Advisory Committee but not the Selectmen, that appropriated $10,000 to support the federal match requirements for the Sullivan County Transportation Program operated by Southwest Community Services. The tax impact was 2 cents.
Voters approved Article 8 by a 908-331 margin calling for Newport's operating budget of $10,200,969. The tax rate for the operating budget is anticipated to be $12, according to the Warrant article.
Article 9 also won overwhelming support from voters, 963-298. That Article approved the cost items of the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Town and the Police Union for the four-year period July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2025, which calls for the following increases in salaries and benefits for the Year 2021-2022, $0; 2022-2023, (Second year tax impact, 9 cents) $41,865; 2023-2024, $37,859; 2024-2025, $40,937.
Article 5, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, adding a section regarding sheds in all zones gained voter support, 640-592.
Four other articles were approved that appropriated additional money for Capital Reserve Funds. They included Communications, $5,000, 817-427 (Tax impact, 1 cent); Recreation Facilities, $10,000, 763-490 (Tax impact, 2 cents); Ambulance, $60,000, 845-463 (Tax impact, 14 cents) and District Court, $10,000, 663-558 (Tax impact, 2 cents).