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All but one article passes in Bennington

  • After a day at the polls, residents' voting results are in.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • After a day at the polls, residents' voting results are in.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

BENNINGTON — All articles on the Bennington town warrant passed in Tuesday’s ballot voting, except for one: Article 13 would have appropriated $15,000 to the Police Cruiser Capital Reserve Fund. There is currently $25,890 in that Capital Reserve Fund, and town official say a new cruiser would cost $38,000 to $40,000, including equipment.

Voters approved the town’s $1,523,579 operating budget with 225 Yes votes to 165 Nos. The default budget, had the article not passed, would have been $1,510,984.

Had it passed, Article 13 would have allowed the town to purchase a new Ford Expedition police cruiser. Since it did not pass, Town Administrator Dee French said Wednesday morning that officials will have to find money within the budget to pay for repairs to the cruiser that would have been replaced, a 2007 Ford Expedition.

Bennington Police Chief Steve Campbell said in a phone interview Wednesday that the state recommends replacing police vehicles roughly every four years. The current Expedition is six years old, and needs repairs to the body and internal equipment that will total somewhere around $6,500, according to Campbell.

Campbell said he’s disappointed that the town didn’t vote to approve the $15,000 appropriation for a new cruiser.

“I think some people don’t realize the condition that [the current Expedition] is in,” Campbell said. “Now we have to find money to fix it, and I don’t have an answer right now for where to get that money.”

Campbell said the Expedition is at Hillsborough Ford right now for repairs. The Police Department tries not to drive it around too much to conserve its physical state, he said.

“There’s a line item for cruiser gear, like tires,” Campbell said, the Police Department’s budget. “But it doesn’t include these kind of repairs.”

Town Administrator Dee French said in a phone interview Wednesday that the voters in Bennington are very conscious about their financial issues, but she had been confident the article would pass.

“It’s tough out there, and the people made some very conscious decisions,” French said.

Warrant Article 13 was voted down by a slim margin, with a 205 to 188 vote.

Warrant Article 29, which passed with a 237 to 136 margin, alters the manner in which members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment are posted to the position.

Zoning Board members have been appointed to the position by the Bennington Select Board in previous years. With the acceptance of this article, Zoning Board members will now be elected by the town.

“It used to be an elected position probably less than 10 years ago,” French said. “It will go back to an elected position starting next year at town elections.”

The only contested race for an open position in Bennington was for Water and Sewer Commissioner, which has a three-year term. John Spanos defeated Jonathan Charlonne, 170 to 167. Both Steve Osienski and Jeffrey Rose were reelected to the Select Board.

Of the 1,000 registered voters in town, 417 came out to vote.

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