By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
ALBURGH – The longtime political phrase is: “Vote early, Vote often.”
Next week Alburgh plans a new slogan: “Vote by Driving In. Vote by Driving Out.”
In the crazy world of COVID-19, voters are going to see a whole new way of voting and one special ballot item is leaving people scratching their heads.
Alburgh voters will consider a proposed $6,680,217 school budget from the School Board and a $75,000 question from the town Selectboard.
The $75,000 ballot item is the question confusing voters, Alburgh Volunteer Fire Chief Ron Kumetz said.
Voters in 2019 agreed to add $75,000 to the town budget every year to help fund the capital budget for replacement of vehicles and equipment for the Alburgh Volunteer Fire Department.
Officials said a glitch surfaced when the 2020-21 budget was compiled this year and Town Clerk and Treasurer Donna Bohannon did not include the $75,000 line item in the final budget that the Selectboard approved and sent on to voters in March. The mistake was discovered a few days before Town Meeting Day and the bottom line could not be amended, the Selectboard told voters.
Now a ballot item asks residents if the town should include the $75,000 previously approved in March 2019 into the 2020-21 fiscal budget.
The $75,000 is not new money to be added. It is designed actually to ensure that when Alburgh tax bills are distributed that the previously approved $75,000 is covered.
Kumetz said he hopes that voters will support the ballot item. He said the fire department believes a rejection will mean the Selectboard will still need to find the previously approved $75,000 somewhere else in the approved town budget for next year.
There will be an informational meeting Monday at 6 p.m. on June 22 at the Alburgh Community Education Center. The plan is to keep people socially distant in light of COVID-19 and the meeting may be moved outside if a large crowd attends.
Balloting is planned from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23 at the Town Offices, but will actually be conducted outside.
Voters will drive up and remain in their vehicle while handed a ballot. They will drive forward and mark their ballot. They will then drive to the checkout point, provide their name again, and deposit the ballot in a ballot box.
This is designed to keep both voters and election workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early voting also is available for those calling the town offices.
The proposed $6,680,217 school budget is the same amount residents were expected to consider in April before COVID-19 spiked the election.
Alburgh’s initial school budget proposal of $6,784,186 went down, 334-268, on Town Meeting Day March 3.
The School Board has cut more than $100,000 for the new proposal.