Plenty of Vermonters say yes to everything on their Town Meeting Day agendas, even if it takes them a while to get there.
On Tuesday, Hyde Park residents took it beyond the agenda, and just said yes to everything they could.
A $2.4 million base operating budget? The ayes had it without a peep of discussion.
A homeless shelter right in the middle of the village? Nothing but applause for the proposal.
How about a diner in a town that doesn’t have anywhere to eat? “Bring it,” came a voice in chorus of ayes.
Hyde Park’s annual meeting was straightforward and short, ringing in at 1 hour and 28 minutes, and about a third of that took place in the “other business” overtime period.
First, the big-ticket items. Note, since Hyde Park is part of the larger Lamoille North school district, no school business was discussed at town meeting, which may explain the meeting’s short duration and light attendance — right around 100 people.
Voters approved the $2.4 million town budget with no explanation from any town officials and no discussion, with a single “nay” that drifted to the ceiling of Lamoille Union High School’s auditorium.
The town budget is up 2.76 percent. The proposal had been higher before town officials trimmed some pay raises to keep all town employees at a flat 2 percent increase.
A handful of separate money items also passed without dissent.
The most scrutiny for a spending measure came on a $165,000 loan toward a new fire truck, shared with the North Hyde Park and Eden fire departments. Eden voters also approved their $165,000 share of the $330,000 truck.
Brent Lanpher, a captain with the combined department, said the truck will replace the department’s main “attack” truck, a 1996 model with 21,402 miles— 1,460 hours’ worth of use — that was starting to rust out on its undercarriage.
Paul Trudell asked that very Vermont question: Can you get another couple years out of it?
Lanpher’s answer: Maybe.
“We’re using it every time the tone goes off,” he said.
But, he said, one of the last times the town replaced a truck, it was so old the department had to replace the brakes just to be able to get it down the road to get rid of it.
Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux fielded a question about why the sheriff’s department receives less money for dispatch service, per capita, from Barre than it does from the smaller Lamoille County towns. His answer: The dispatch contracts have always included the 10 local towns, and anything else is bonus revenue, which pays expenses and helps keep Lamoille County towns’ dispatch bills lower than they would be otherwise.
Elsewhere, voters breezed through spending measures, much of which will come from one-time draws from the town’s general fund, while still leaving a 15 percent fund balance, according to Lucy Hankinson, the select board co-chair.
The fire truck loan would come from that, and also includes:
• $40,000 for continued renovations at the town garage.
• $25,000 to help pay for restorations of countless town documents, some dating as far back as 1904. According to Town Clerk Kim Moulton, that would help revive old documents detailing all stages of Hyde Parkers’ lives — birth, marriage, death and land records.
• $30,000 to set up a stormwater capital reserve fund to help with future erosion controls and local highway projects.
• $10,000 to create an economic development reserve fund to help attract new business. According to board member Sue Bartlett, the year-old McMahon’s Chevrolet dealership in town is a good example of people setting up shop in Hyde Park.
Voters also approved $1,000 for River Arts, with Pixie Loomis noting that 3,000 people had used the organization’s services, and River Arts had provided about $550 in scholarships for Hyde Park children.
In local elections, everyone was elected without opposition.
In fact, the most noteworthy election might be that of Christine Hallquist, who recently resigned as CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative to run for governor. She got a taste of victory Tuesday, as voters selected her as the town moderator again.
She noted that former governor Jim Douglas is Middlebury’s town moderator, and served thus during his time in office.
Elsewhere, Roland Boivin and Roger Audet were unopposed for the select board, Chasity Fagnant was elected to the Lamoille North school board and Gary Anderson was elected lister.
Hyde Park residents’ penchant for saying yes to things extended to nonbinding business at the tail end of Tuesday’s meeting. That was something of a relief to Sheriff Marcoux.
Inspired by church-led initiatives in Stowe and neighboring towns to provide shelters for homeless people, he decided to open one of his department’s buildings, a yellow house near its garage that provides a central location for a shelter.
It could have been a risky political move; after all, Morrisville resisted a homeless shelter in its downtown a couple years ago.
“My job is to protect the community, and if I felt this was a danger to the community, I wouldn’t do it,” Marcoux said to hearty applause.
Two other cheer-worthy measures also came up in the overtime portion of the meeting.
Ruth Roy suggested moving town meeting back to the Hyde Park Elementary School next year. The building is undergoing a yearlong renovation, which could wrap up in the next few months.
And, how about some food? Hyde Park is a shire town with a courthouse, schools, several social-service agencies and a few businesses. But there’s no restaurant, and Theodore Koch proposed changing that.
“Raise your hands if you want a diner in town,” he said.
More applause, and loud above the clapping: “Bring it!”
Updated March 8 to clarify information related to document restoration.