Lamoille in the News
by Andrew Martin
How will I be represented in a merged district? Are we losing local control?
Residents of the Lamoille North Supervisory Union are asking themselves these questions as their school districts study an accelerated merger under Act 46. The question of how a new merged district would be governed has been one of the hot topics at the meetings of the committee studying the merger.
The makeup of the school board in a merged district is decided by a list of rules, called the “articles of agreement,” created by the study committee.
“We haven’t finalized all the draft articles of agreement yet,” Special Consultant Steve Sanborn explained. Sanborn is the principle advisor for the committee studying the merger.
A few more articles need to be finalized at the committee’s next meeting, but the article governing board structure has already been addressed. Sanborn was recommended by the Vermont School Board Association and hired by the district, to walk them through the process.
“The committee decided to go with a traditional model that is based entirely on each town’s population,” Sanborn stated.
This decision by the committee will mean that Cambridge and Johnson would receive five seats each on the merged district board, Hyde Park would be allotted four, Eden would have two, and Belvidere and Waterville would be allotted one seat each for 18 total members on the board.
According to Sanborn this type of board structure was chosen mainly because it is familiar. The current board of Lamoille Union High School is elected in the same way and committee members felt that their communities would have an easier time in the transition to a merged district using this model.
“They committee is trying to make this as clear as possible for everyone in the district,” Sanborn added.
“The committee discussed other options but the majority of our members felt the population option would be best,” Cambridge committee member Laura Miller explained.
A second option that was available is a type of hybrid board structure that would have had each town receive the same number of board seats and for an additional number of at-large seats to be available to anyone from the district.
Using the 18-member board as an example this would mean that each of the six towns in Lamoille North would have received two seats each, with an additional six seats that could be filled by residents of any town in the district. But they chose not to go this route.
Support for either of the options varied among the committee members.
“Were I to look at this strictly through the lens of a Johnson board member, this could appear to benefit the town,” Johnson committee member and vice-chair Pierre Laflamme stated regarding the proportional model that would see Johnson receive five members on the board.
Laflamme also added that it is important for the committee to look at the bigger picture on the topic and to make sure smaller towns in Lamoille North are fairly represented.
“In order for any consolidation to be successful, we have to ensure that the smaller towns such as Waterville are not disenfranchised by this process,” Laflamme continued, “To that end, I am still open as to which option may be best for Lamoille North as a whole.”
“I don’t think either of those two options is great, but we’ve settled on the population option,” committee member Becky Penberthy of Waterville stated on the topic of which option she would prefer.
Penberthy added that her ideal board composition would have allotted two seats to each town in the new merged district. However, this model of school board structure is not permissible according to state statute.
Despite her lack of enthusiasm for either option Penberthy did concede that the model that has been chosen could work, even for towns like Waterville that will only have one representative.
“It could work out fine, but that depends on the quality of the person elected by the community,” she explained, “That’s true for any town though.”
“One board member can really change the structure of a board completely,” Penberthy continued, adding that at some point she hopes members of the merged board will begin thinking of all students in the new district as their own instead of only those from their hometown.
“If all the board members have the best interests of the larger community and all the students at heart then things will go well,” she concluded.
“One of the hopes behind Act 46 is perhaps that individual towns would stop seeing the students as ‘Johnson kids’ or ‘Hyde Park kids’ but rather all of our kids,” Laflamme stated, echoing Penberthy’s thoughts.
“I also do not imagine any one town being allowed to operate in a dictatorial manner regardless of how the new board is composed,” he continued, “While a proportionally represented board makes some logical sense, I am not personally convinced that any one model is better or worse.”
This land is your land, this land is mine.
One of the other hot topics during the study of a merger in Lamoille North has been how the land and property of each individual school district will be transferred to the new merged district. The article governing that topic has not yet been finalized, but according to Steve Sanborn a few options have been eliminated.
One option that doesn’t appear to be a possibility is each school district selling their land and property to their own town and the town then leasing the school building and property back to the new merged district.
“That isn’t an acceptable option by state standards,” Sanborn explained.
One possibility for some of the towns in Lamoille North is only selling the building and enough property to run the school to the new district while the rest of the land is sold back to the town.
Waterville, Belvidere, and Eden could all take advantage of this clause, which has already occurred in another separate Act 46 merger between Westford and Essex.
by Andrew Martin
Elmore residents are headed to the polls for a second time to decide the future of their school district. A revote on the question of whether or not the Elmore School District should merge with Morristown will be held on Tuesday, December 29.
“The biggest factor behind choosing that date was we wanted to get the vote in before the end of the year,” explained Elmore School Board Chair Penny Jones, “In the event of a yes vote that means we can take still advantage of the $150,000 transition grant.”
In order for Elmore and Morristown to receive the transition grant both towns would have to approve the merger before January 1. On November 3 the merger was voted down in Elmore by a count of 197 to 164 while it was approved in Morrisville, 251 to 247.
The petition asking for a reconsideration of the merger question was submitted on November 11 and by state law a revote had to take place within 60 days of the submission. The Elmore School Board chose the December 29 date at their meeting last week.
One of the major issues leading up to the November 3 vote was misinformation and unanswered questions for Elmore residents about the merger. The Elmore School Board is planning several steps to fix those issues before the revote happens.
“We will be having an informational meeting on the merger on Monday, December 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Elmore Town Hall,” Jones explained.
The committee studying the merger also has more meetings planned, and Jones is encouraging Elmore residents to attend the regularly scheduled December 14 Elmore School Board meeting with any questions they have.
“We have asked folks what information they are looking for, and we want to clarify questions about the tax formula, tax impact, and what our options could be in the future in terms of merging with another district while maintaining school choice,” Jones added.
“We want to make it all easier for people to understand before the revote,” she concluded.
Lamoille South Superintendent Tracy Wrend echoed those thoughts.
“We want to be sure that we are ready to give out the information people need to answer their questions,” Wrend stated, “After November 3 one of the major wishes of Elmore voters was more be done to think outside the box and explore other options and school districts for Elmore to merge with.”
“We will be taking this opportunity to review briefly the options that were explored prior to focusing on a merger with Morristown,” Wrend continued, “We eagerly await suggestions for other options from the community. It is important people tell us what those are.”
“Folks are encouraged to call or email the Elmore board members or myself,” she concluded.
A revote on the merger question is also still a possibility in Morristown. Although petitions for a revote have been taken out the Morristown Town Clerk had yet to receive any completed petitions back at press time.
by Kayla Friedrich
House Speaker Shap Smith dropped out of the gubernatorial race to be with his wife as she faces a much more serious fight.
Shap and Melissa from his gubernatorial campaign kickoff in mid August. - Friedrich photo
At a press conference, held on Tuesday, November 17, in Montpelier, Smith announced that his wife, Melissa Volansky, had recently undergone surgery for breast cancer after a diagnosis earlier this fall, and requires further treatment.
“We are partners in everything we do,” Smith said about his wife, “and I intend to be by her side as she gets better.”
He said he made the decision to halt his campaign two weeks ago, after doctors said his wife would require more treatment.
“I just feel it’s the right thing to do,” Smith said. “It’s what I would hope she would do for me if I was in that position, and it’s what I’m going to do for her.”
Smith and Volansky have two children ages 10 and 13. Volansky had been planning to support the children’s sports and other activities during the gubernatorial campaign, but is unable to do so now, said Smith.
“It’s really important to me that the kids have as normal a life as possible, and that Melissa does too,” Smith said. “I’m not ready to think about anything beyond what the next couple of months look like.”
The Morrisville democrat will continue to serve as speaker of the House this session, but said he has no plans to run for the legislature or speaker again. Smith said the campaign is unlikely to resume, and he plans to support the Democratic nominee for governor in the general election.
by Andrew Martin
“It’s a whirling dervish,” said Bill Henchey.
That comment was not made with regards to any religious dance but rather to a piece of equipment recently raising the ire of landowners in Morristown. Brush clearing work on Cote Hill Road using a rented piece of equipment last week caused Henchey and other locals to speak out in protest.
The rotary brush cutter recently rented by the Town of Morristown for roadside clearing work on Cote Hill Road has been causing controversy. Some residents of the road feel the machine, seen above, hacks up brush and trees too much and leaves a path of destruction in its wake. As a result, some residents volunteered to handle the brush cutting on their property themselves, using more benign methods. - Martin photo
“It’s just not the right piece of equipment for the job,” Henchey added, “It’s meant to work under power lines…it’s meant for clear cutting.”
The piece of equipment in question, a rotary brush cutter that attaches to the arm of an excavator, was rented by the Town of Morristown for a week for testing. Town officials wanted to use the cutter during work to clear brush and limbs from the sides of Cote Hill Road in order to decide if it would be a good cost-saving measure for future brush work.
“We wanted to see if this machine was cost effective and how much we could get done with it,” Morrisville Highway Department Foreman Min Cote explained, “We are looking for the best way to do this.”
The rotary brush cutter does not appear to be the answer, at least to many residents of Cote Hill Road. Several upset landowners on the road met with town officials to talk about their concerns last Tuesday morning as the work was going on.
“Some residents told them they weren’t using that piece of equipment on their land,” Bill Henchey stated.
“That machine needs to go away. It’s not the right tool for the job,” he added.
Cote added that the town and village crews have not had time to do a lot of roadside brush clearing in the past few years and are behind on the work at this point.
The clearing of brush and limbs on the side of the road is necessary to help preserve the life of town equipment like trucks and graders according to Cote. Overhanging limbs and bushes scrape and damage the town trucks during plowing and mud season, especially because the bodies of the truck need to be lifted up higher.
“We can’t be tearing up our trucks and graders,” Cote explained. He also added that clearing the brush and overhanging tree limbs using hand saws and chainsaws takes much longer than using some kind of machinery, whether that is a normal brush hog or the piece of equipment used on Cote Hill.
A tow-behind brush hog was recently used by the town and village crew on Randolph Road, and the cutter used on Cote Hill did allow work crews to cover a large amount of ground in a short amount of time.
“It’s a little ragged,” Cote conceded with regards to how the cutter leaves branch stumps behind, “But it gets the job done. We don’t have time to do all this by hand.”
Cote also emphasized the fact that he and his crew have been trying to cut only brush and limbs, not large trees.
“We don’t cut large old trees, like maples, unless the landowner asks us to,” Cote explained.
The raggedness of the cuts made by the rented piece of equipment and how the job looks when it is done are the main issues locals are taking with the work. The machine often leaves jagged stubs of several inches when it removes branches from a tree, and large chunks of branch are sometimes missed by the chipper that is part of the machine.
“It’s not a smooth cut, and a lot of people don’t like that,” Cote acknowledged.
Despite these drawbacks Cote also explained that the residents of Cote Hill Road did understand why the work had to be done. He also explained that he has received a great deal of positive feedback from some residents who feel the brush clearing is long overdue.
That doesn’t change the fact that several landowners are up in arms over the work.
“Because of budget constraints the powers that be decided to rent the equipment instead of using the tried and true method of a work crew with saws and a chipper,” Bill Henchey stated.
“This is not the method you should be using for cleaning people’s property,” he continued, “I’m not debating that the work should have been done, just the method in which it was.
The fact that work crews cut brush and limbs outside the town right of way along one section of Cote Hill Road was also a major point of contention. After the mistake Min Cote went ahead and clearly marked the town right of way for the crews and the clearing since then has remained inside the town right of way.
In order to prevent the cutting and brush clearing adjacent to some of their properties a group of Cote Hill Road residents were planning to clear the brush themselves using hands saws and chainsaws last Friday and Saturday.
“We agreed that they could clear the sections around their houses going forward,” Dan Lindley explained, “We will be continuing to use town equipment and time to clear brush on sections where people don’t mind.”
Several residents of Cote Hill Road and the surrounding area were planning on attending the November 23 meeting of the Morristown Select Board to further voice their complaints. The board already has Cote Hill and the issues surrounding it as an agenda item.
Residents Unsatisfied with Notification ProcessAlong with being unhappy about the job that the rotary cutter does the locals on Cote Hill Road were also upset with how they were notified about the pending work.
In the past flyers have been stuffed into the mailboxes of landowners where such work would take place, but a mix up before the Cote Hill Road project led to the flyers never being sent out.
“There was an issue with the flyers, and they weren’t mailed out,” Morrisville Highway Department Foreman Min Cote conceded, “We need to fix that in the future.”
The issue with the notifications stems from the fact that in the past such flyers were not stamped before being placed into mailboxes. When a postal employee noticed the unstamped flyers this time they were not delivered.
“Only a few residents were notified,” Bill Henchey explained, “The only other notice we had was when a hand-printed sign was put up the Friday before the work started.”
“That’s all the notice we had,” he added, “A legal mailing needs to take place.”
Morristown officials are planning to perform such legal mailings going forward.
“We will be changing the way we do mailings in the future for work like this to solve that problem,” Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley added.
by Kayla Friedrich
Morristown residents are fed up with dilapidated buildings and rundown façades in their downtown area, so a few citizens are trying to call people’s attention to a bill sitting in the House of Representatives’ Commerce and Economic Development committee that may be able to solve the problem.
Morristown resident Ellen Waldman is leading the charge to petition the Vermont State House to pass Bill H.169 in the next legislative session, which begins in January, and is looking for 200 signatures. She has already garnered 159 supporters since it was introduced Monday, Nov. 16.
“This is, to my knowledge, the first time that there has been anything available to even pass that will give small towns like Morrisville some authority to adopt bylaws to regulate commercial building facades,” said Waldman.
Worcester's Avram Patt, one of two representatives from the district that includes Morristown, introduced the bill in question to the House with supporting sponsors Rep. Linda J. Martin, of Wolcott, and Rep. Mark Woodward, of Johnson, in February 2015, but according to Morristown Zoning and Planning Administrator Todd Thomas, this is not the bill’s first incarnation. A similar bill, which Thomas has made minor adjustments to over the years, was put forth nearly 4 years ago, but it hasn’t moved forward to be heard on the House floor.
“Avram Patt said he’s been trying to get the committee to take action on this bill,” said Waldman, “so, I thought well, maybe something can be done to urge these people to move on it, because if they don’t know that the people care, they just might think that the town wants it. If they’ve never been here, and never seen some of our buildings…”
Bill H.169 proposes to allow municipalities to adopt land use bylaws for the purpose of regulating commercial building façades in designated downtowns and villages to ensure the facades are not left in a state of disrepair.
These bylaws would be limited to requiring the maintenance and repair of the façade such that the building’s interior is not open to the elements for longer than six consecutive months, prohibiting it from having broken windows. The bylaws would also prohibit commercial buildings from having boarded up windows or doors for the same period of time.
“We’ve put a lot of money into our downtown,” said Thomas, “and if we had this bill a few years ago, some of the things that have happened with buildings the Nepveu’s building could have been avoided.”
According to Thomas, when the bill was put forth last year, he was told that the town could do an ordinance against the building, but that wouldn’t work as Morrisville does not have building codes. He hasn’t heard from the House as to why they think this bill would be a bad idea.
“We want to regulate the bad apples,” he said. “We don’t want to regulate all the apples. Any attention given to this bill helps, and I’d like to think it will get out of the committee to the floor this session after the issues we’ve had.”
A bylaw under this bill would not apply to residential dwellings, and would only affect problematic commercial properties in any designated downtown or village in the state.
To read the bill visit http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2016/Docs/BILLS/H-0169/H-0169%20As%20Introduced.pdf
A full-color, tabloid-sized (the same size as the current Transcript) News & Citizen will launch in early January.
The revamped weekly newspaper will be a merger of the current broadsheet-format (the larger sized paper) News & Citizen and the free weekly, The Transcript.
Thursday will be publication; the first issue will hit mailboxes and newsstands Jan. 7.
The revamped weekly will serve Morrisville, Hyde Park, Johnson, Cambridge and the rest of Lamoille County, plus neighboring areas that have been regularly receiving The Transcript.
“We think the new tabloid format and merger of the two papers into a single weekly for Morrisville and the county will allow us to build the strongest possible newspaper, from the perspective of both our readers and advertisers,” said Greg Popa, publisher of the News & Citizen and its two sister newspapers, the Stowe Reporter and Waterbury Record.
Stowe Reporter LLC bought the two Morrisville-based publications on Oct. 1 from Bradley Limoge, whose family has owned and operated the News & Citizen since 1923. The newspaper has been continuously published since 1881.
The new News & Citizen will be distributed free, inserted into mailboxes throughout the county. Its initial circulation will be 13,500 copies per week. The paper will be distributed to all towns in Lamoille County except Stowe.
“Change is never easy, but the No. 1 question we’ve been asked since our purchase of the Morrisville paper has been, ‘When are you going to abandon the broadsheet format?’” Popa said. “After taking a good look at the two papers and the markets they serve, we agreed that one great paper for Morrisville and Lamoille County is the way to go.
“We expect to build on the News & Citizen’s venerable reputation and long history of excellence in serving its communities,” he said.
The News & Citizen has covered and carried the news — town business, births, deaths, graduations, school sports — and commented on it, while The Transcript, which is free, was launched more recently, with a focus on advertising, lighter community fare, and advertising inserts. Combining the strengths of the two — and ending the duplication of efforts — made sense, Popa said.
The News & Citizen will move out of its longtime home on Portland Street in January. The new office will be in a historic building at 92 Lower Main St.
“Mickey Smith (editor of the News & Citizen) found the space and it perfectly serves our needs,” Popa said. “A downtown office provides great visibility. We’re looking forward to being in the village.”
The sales and news staff will work from the Morrisville office, while business, circulation and production functions will be consolidated at the Stowe Reporter’s offices in Stowe village.
Advertising combinations are in the works for the Stowe Reporter Company’s trio of newspapers. In January, the News & Citizen will also join the Burlington Area Newspaper Group (BANG). The BANG group of seven newspapers offers advertisers discounted rates in community weeklies in South Burlington, the Mad River Valley, Williston, Shelburne and Charlotte, in addition to the Reporter’s own publications. Through BANG, Lamoille County businesses can reach up to 55,000 households with just one ad buy.
Readers will experience expanded, aggressive news coverage in the new News & Citizen in an easy-to-read tabloid format. The newspaper will feature color photography and color advertising.
“We believe that a great newspaper is at the heart of a great community, which is why we are in this business and why we are dedicated to delivering the kind of news coverage that citizens expect and deserve,” said executive editor Tom Kearney, who oversees news and content at the company.
The Stowe Reporter and Waterbury Record have won numerous state and regional news and design awards under Kearney’s and Popa’s leadership, something they intend to duplicate at the News & Citizen.
by Andrew Martin
We must be involved in this project.
That was the message sent to the Hyde Park Select Board by the Hyde Park Village Board of Trustees on the topic of an ongoing study. Several trustees attended a meeting of the select board on Thursday, November 12 and asked to play a bigger role in the study that is looking into how to better connect Hyde Park Village and the surrounding area for pedestrians and bikers.
“The lack of our involvement is concerning,” Board of Trustee Chair Riki French stated at the meeting, “We have asked to be involved in the planning and decision making and we are still not.”
“There are a lot of good things to talk about with this project,” French added in praise of the study and possible ways to connect different parts of Hyde Park.
However, she again emphasized that the trustees need to be involved in the work moving forward. She explained that they were partners in applying for the grant that is funding the study but since the application was filed they have hardly been involved at all.
“We ask that as you complete the next steps we are involved,” she continued, “We are the elected representatives of the village and we have had nothing to say about this yet.”
“Why have we not been drawn into the project yet?” Tim Yarrow asked at the meeting, “We want to be involved in the scoping study.”
Both French and Yarrow also reiterated that the work done to collect community input thus far for the project has not been sufficient and may not be an accurate picture of what the community wants. One community survey was distributed and both trustees felt more community forums other than the single one that was held should have taken place to gather ideas and input.
“The trustees are here and we need, we must be involved in the project,” Yarrow stressed, “We represent the village residents.”
Yarrow added that the trustees are responsible for the governance and oversight of several different aspects of village life that the project falls under. He also questioned if more time could be added to the December deadline for the study to allow for more community input to be gathered.
“We would definitely like to see the December deadline pushed back…this process has to slow down,” he stated. While he was unsure on a specific timeline Yarrow emphasized that a period of several months would be necessary to gather enough input and comments to be sure what the community really wanted for such a large project.
“We aren’t trying to threaten anyone, we want to work together,” Yarrow concluded at the meeting.
The Hyde Park Select Board did not reply directly to the comments and questions put forth by French and Yarrow at the meeting. A call to Select Board Chair David Gagnier, who was not at the meeting on Thursday, had not been returned at press time.
Moving forward a final report and recommendations for the project will be prepared by the engineering firm hired to conduct the study, the Dufresne Group.
“The final report will be prepared by Dufresne Group and delivered to the Select Board when it is complete sometime in December,” Hyde Park Town Administrator Ron Rodjenski explained, adding that the Board of Trustees will also receive a final report at that time.
“There are no plans to have additional meetings other than the submittal of the final report,” Rodjenski continued on the topic of gathering more community input, “The scoping study will be the starting point for the future decisions on which projects move to construction.”
Rodjenski also emphasized that the Hyde Park community can choose what aspects of the scoping study it wants to make a reality.
“…the community may decide to modify the alternatives from Dufresne Group, defer them indefinitely and focus on maintenance & repair, or accelerate one or more projects,” he added, “As it is a planning document, the community will next need to decide which, if any, project to move forward to construction.”
The purpose of the meeting on November 12 that French and Yarrow raised their objections at was to gather further community input on the possible projects that could take place to improve the pedestrian infrastructure in Hyde Park. The alternatives were developed using the community input and ideas gathered at a previous meeting as well as in the survey that was sent out to residents in August.
Roughly 25 community members turned out for the informational meeting to provide their input.
According to Project Engineer Andrea Day the community input gathered thus far shows that one major priority would be a better and safer crossing of Route 15 somewhere near Hyde Park Village.
Among the options for a crossing is a crosswalk, bridge, or tunnel near Black Farm Road as well as possible crosswalks near Johnson Street Extension or the roundabout at the intersection of Route 15 and Route 100C.
Some community members present at the meeting expressed doubts over why such a crossing of Route 15 was necessary while others felt it would be a benefit to have a safe crossing that connected the Lamoille Union campus with Hyde Park Village and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
“A safe crossing somewhere would be nice,” one community member stated.
Other options that are still possibilities include improvements to the sidewalks on Church Street, new paths or sidewalks on East Main Street or West Main Street, and a few other small improvements in Hyde Park Village itself.
One concern raised by residents was the cost of such projects even if grant funding is used to cover the majority of the costs. Hyde Park would need to provide a local match for any grant funding that was awarded for a project.
Hyde Park officials are still looking for further community input on the proposed alternatives for improving the Hyde Park pedestrian infrastructure. Anyone interested can learn more about those alternatives and offer comments by visiting the site http://www.dufresnegroup.com/hydepark.
The presentation given by Project Engineer Andrea Day from the Dufresne Group listing the alternatives is also available on the Hyde Park town website under the ‘Highway’ tab. Any comments and input should be submitted by December 1.
by Kayla Friedrich
Just one year into a five-year contract, and the Lamoille Regional Solid Waste District’s transfer station in Johnson would like to renegotiate for concessions.
The solid waste district’s district manager Susan Alexander would like to see all Lamoille County town transfer stations consistent in their agreements. If the town of Johnson cannot make it consistent, the district will have to reevaluate whether or not it would like to go ahead with the physical improvements that it is thinking about making on the property.
“My understanding is that the district is planning on putting some sort of roofed structure over the recycling and garbage areas, where the drop-off is,” said Town Administrator Duncan Hastings. “The deal they have with Stowe, is that the town is financially obligated to carry the unamortized [unfinanced] portion of the structures of the buildings down there in the event that the agreement is terminated by Stowe before the full term of the mortgage or financing arrangement.”
Hastings says the Johnson Select Board is very uncomfortable with the notion of doing something like that with this structure, because they don’t feel that the roof would lend anything to the property in terms of value. Therefore, it doesn’t want the town’s taxpayers to be on the hook for paying the balance of the financing for a roof structure.
The other issues presented by the solid waste district were plowing, graveling and maintaining the driveway at the facility.
“That is specifically not included in our agreement,” said Hastings, “and I don’t think the Board is particularly interested in accepting that responsibility either.”
Plowing and maintaining the transfer station’s driveway would be a considerable amount of added work for the town highway department, According to Select Board Member Nat Kinney, the solid waste district said it costs them over $5,000 to plow the transfer station, even though it is only open two days a week. If the town plowed it, they would take up those costs. According to Hastings it would take hours to plow the transfer station, and the town would also have to hire more people to cover it’s town plowing work, which would mean raising taxes.
Johnson’s representative to the district Seth Manchester suggested that maybe the district could find a middle ground with the town of Johnson, where the town covers part of the plowing costs. However, Select Board Member Eric Nuse made the point that the town should not be responsible for maintaining a site that other towns use, so maybe the solid waste district should incorporate maintenance costs into its tipping fees, which are considerably lower than Casella. That would be fair for everyone.
Manchester said that idea had been considered.
Hastings also brought up the point that, while Stowe might pay for some of the maintenance of its transfer station, Stowe does have a much higher tax base than Johnson, and could probably raise taxes a little bit without any issues.
Johnson’s transfer station, according to Hastings, also offers a service that no other transfer stations in the district offers, which is stump dumping. Hastings said that the board feels that the town of Johnson is taking on some of the obligations from other communities, and the concessions the town got in its agreement with the district helps mitigate the fact that it is taking the stump dump materials for the entire district.
“The other piece that we wanted to relay through Seth Manchester to the district,” said Hastings, “is that we don’t think any host town should be performing those services for a transfer stations at the expense of the taxpayer of the host community. Our simple thought on this is that if the district needs more money it should be added to the tipping fees, which are paid for by everybody in every community. Then they could afford to pay for snow removal; et cetera.”
Hastings said that the town believes that the transfer station is a good thing for the district and town, and it doesn’t want to kick them out. The town just doesn’t want to hold the sole responsibility for maintenance.
by Andrew Martin
Let’s try this again.
A group of Elmore residents sent that message last week when they submitted a petition for a revote on the question of whether the Elmore School District should merge with the Morristown School District.
The merger was first voted down by Elmore residents on Tuesday, November 3 by a count of 197 to 164. The question of merging with Elmore was approved by Morristown voters in a separate vote.
The petition for a revote in Elmore bearing the names of 70 Elmore voters was submitted on Wednesday, November 11 and verified by the Elmore Town Clerk. According to Lamoille South Superintendent Tracy Wrend a revote must be held within 60 days of November 11 to resolve the issue, meaning that the revote will likely occur in late December or early January.
The Elmore School Board will meet on Wednesday, November 18 to set the official date for the vote.
An emphasis on getting the right information out to voters will be a priority for the Elmore School Board leading up to the vote.
“We will focus again on providing accurate factual information so that people don’t have the questions they did during the first vote on November 3,” Wrend added.
She also explained that at this point she and her staff will continue working with the school boards in both towns to develop separate individual budgets.
“We are still developing separate budgets,” Wrend explained, “We will have to deal with the question of a merged budget if and when Elmore voters actually make a different decision.”
1-10 of 2171