Skip Navigation
Regional News
Town meeting day, home of democracy and pie. Treats baked by Tim Wolfe of Tunbridge, VT. Photo: Rick Scully, used by permission
Town meeting day, home of democracy and pie. Treats baked by Tim Wolfe of Tunbridge, VT. Photo: Rick Scully, used by permission

Small VT towns grapple with big issues on Town Meeting Day

Listen to this story
On the first Tuesday in March, Vermonters come together for town meeting day. They gather in town halls and school auditoriums to hash out budgets and elect local officials. Every year, small towns grapple with big issues. This year was no exception, as Burlington voters approved gun control rules; many communities rejected a school tax increase; and three Addison County towns voted against the second phase of the proposed Vermont gas pipeline.

Hear this

Download audio

Share this


Explore this

Reported by

Sarah Harris
Reporter and Producer

Kathryn Flagg is a reporter with 7 Days, the Burlington weekly newspaper. She says one of the most interesting items on the ballot this month asked voters in 20 towns whether they would support a state bank.

At the end of the day, the way the majority goes, that's the beauty of democracy.
"Supporters are saying that a state bank would be a way for Vermont to generate revenue that we could use state funds to finance energy, transportation, other infrastructure projects," says Flagg. "Opponents say it's not necessarily clear this would be a winning proposition.

Burlington voters approved three gun control ordinances within in the city. The rules would allow police to seize guns if they suspect domestic violence, ban firearms on the property of institutions that serve liquor, and require that guns be locked up when they aren't in their owner's possession. But they have to be approved by the legislature first.

Flagg says the vote reflects a cultural difference between urban Burlington and more rural parts of the state. "Not everyone within city limits," she explains, "has the same direct connection sometimes to the firearm culture in the rest of the state among hunters and sportsman."

The Burlington school budget, which would've increased school taxes by about 10 percent, didn't pass. Neither did school budgets in Colchester, Milton, Rutland, Montpelier, and several other communities.

Flagg says that school budgets and taxes across the state have risen significantly over the past few years: "The voters are watching these budgets with alarm and I think we're at a point where voters are at a breaking point in a lot of places."

The majority of voters in three Addison County towns, Monkton, Shoreham, and Cornwall, voted against the second phase of the proposed Vermont gas pipeline. It would deliver natural gas from Middlebury, through Shoreham and Cornwall, underneath Lake Champlain to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga.

Voters in Lowell, VT, also reasserted their support of a 21-turbine industrial wind power project.

Flagg says ultimately, town meeting day is about community. "You get to stand up and argue about the issues that are really most immediate and pressing for your community," Flagg says, "and at the end of the day, the way the majority goes, that's the beauty of democracy."

Visitor comments

on:

NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.