WEATHERSFIELD, Vt. — The Weathersfield Selectboard voted unanimously last night to accept the terms to absorb Perkinsville under its budget, paving the way for Perkinsville Village Trustees to dissolve its corporation.
Perkinsville trustees and residents attended the Weathersfield Selectboard meeting to seek the board’s interest in taking back Perkinsville under conditions requested by the village. In exchange for dissolving the village, the town of Weathersfield will/would take over the annual cost to keep the village street lights on and allocate any remaining funds in the Village account to the schoolhouse restoration. According to the village treasurer’s report, Perkinsville had a bank balance of $3,520 on May 31, most of that coming from the village’s general fund balance.
Town Manager Ed Morris said that Perkinsville resident Rep. Annmarie Christensen (Windsor-2, D) discussed the idea after a conversation at the annual Perkinsville Village meeting on June 12, where attendees expressed being in favor of dissolution.
“I thought that before going to work on looking at that process, let’s see that the selectboard would be interested,” Morris said.
The Village of Perkinsville
Perkinsville is an incorporated village in the town of Weathersfield, formed in 1946. The village is home to 74 registered town voters and comprises about 1.59 miles of roadway. It has an annual operating budget of around $3,400, most of which funds its streetlights, with an expense budget of $2,528.60 in fiscal year 2019. The villagers also contribute a small donation through their taxes to fund the restoration of the 140-year-old Perkinsville School.
Though there are at least four village-communities in Weathersfield (five if one counts Ascutney, though Morris said Ascutney is only a village in name) Perkinsville is the only incorporated village in the town. According to Christensen, the term “village” is mostly limited to town planning purposes and refers to a geographical sector with its own hub. When the town of Weathersfield formed, it did not develop its own town center, but adopted several villages that each had its own town center.
However, as an incorporated village, Perkinsville has more governing formalities than those that are villages only in name. The town of Weathersfield incorporated Perkinsville in 1928, which according to historical accounts, centered heavily around being able to control the street lights.
In a story titled “The Birth and Subsequent Hibernation of the Village of Perkinsville” by Barbara Norton Woodbury (The Weathersfield Vermont Weekly: Friday, January 25, 1985 and Friday, February 1, 1985) electricity rate hikes during the late 1920s and early 1930s drove up the cost to operate the village street lights to the point that some residents, confusing their portion of the electric bill for a tax, refused to pay. Some villagers wanted to shut off the street lights after midnight, but the lights had to be manually shut on and off then and nobody in the village wanted to take responsibility to shut them off. By 1936 villagers voted not to keep the lights off and send the corporation into hibernation.
Without delving into the details of the story’s second part, Perkinsville voters revived the corporation in 1946.
In present day the only attendees at Perkinsville’s governing meetings are the five trustees and village treasurer. At the village’s annual meeting on July 12, only 10 of the village’s registered 74 voters attended, which included the officials.
Village Clerk Dottie Richardson said that the members worry about the long-term challenge to find new trusted servants, given so few villagers take any part in the meetings.
According to the trustees, the only function of the village corporation is to collect taxes and pay the electric bill to keep the street lights operating. Though at one time the village had its own property lister and tax collector, today Weathersfield provides all those services, as well as help to save the Perkinsville school and form a committee to oversee the school’s restoration and repurposing.
Most of the renovation of the schoolhouse is complete or in progress and will be available for public use once it has an ADA-compliant ramp and receives its Certificate of Occupancy. Currently the schoolhouse houses the Weathersfield Foodshelf on a conditional use permit.