Lamoille in the News


  • Error Makes Eden Budget Look Higher     by Mickey Smith    On paper, the Eden Highway Department budget is up 15.67% but that includes a line item inadvertently left off last year's budget. Without the money to make-up this mistake, the budget would only be up about 2.51%.    Two years ago Eden voters agreed to spend $200,000 over five years to replace a bridge on Whitney Lane. The first installment of $40,000 was included in the 2013-14 budget, but last year that payment appropriation was inadvertently left out of the budget, so the second installment could not be spent.  Now, the town is faced with $160,000 left to pay on the loan with three years left to pay it.  So ...
    Posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:08 AM by Staff News & Citizen
  • Jeffersonville Water Main     by Andrew Martin     Residents of Jeffersonville are being asked to boil their water for the next few weeks after a leak in the main village waterline caused water levels in the reservoir to drop to critically low levels. The leak in the main waterline was discovered on Thursday, February 19, when it became apparent that water levels in the reservoir were dangerously low and no water was flowing in. The leak in the main line was discovered soon after and repaired on the same day.     According to a press release issued by Cambridge Emergency Management Director Doug Babcock the break in the main waterline occurred in the vicinity of Pleasant Valley Road near Jeff Heights. Along with disrupting the water ...
    Posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:07 AM by Staff News & Citizen
  • Belvidere Up $6,500     by Mickey Smith    The Belvidere Selectboard has presented a budget up $6,500 (about 4%) over last year's budget.    The largest contributor to the proposed budget increase is a request for an additional $5,000 for winter road maintenance. The additional money better reflects the amount actually spent last year.    Most of the adjustments made to the budget put the proposed expenses in line with actual funds spent last year. Listers’ salaries are proposed to be up $250 for that purpose, while auditors’ salaries are being reduced by $500.    Fire protection and ambulance services are also up slightly. Johnson Fire Department, with whom Belvidere contracts for fire protection, is asking for $250 more and NEMS ambulance coverage is up ...
    Posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:05 AM by Staff News & Citizen
  • Stowe Town Budget     by Andrew Martin     Town Meeting Day is now just a week away and residents of Lamoille County will soon be voting on their proposed town and school budgets. Voters in Stowe will be presented with a proposed town budget which calls for a General Fund Budget in the amount of $11,083,075 for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16).     While the proposed General Fund Budget is $11,083,075, the actual amount that would be raised by taxes in Stowe if voters approve the budget would be $8,352,254 while a total of $2,503,147 would be raised by non-tax revenues.     In total the proposed budget and articles in Stowe will result in a town tax rate for ...
    Posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:04 AM by Staff News & Citizen
  • Quiet LNSU Budget Year     by Mickey Smith    HYDE PARK – District wide, Lamoille North Supervisory Union Business Manager Marilyn Frederick  said the Lamoille North Supervisory Union is looking at less than a 1% aggregate budget increase for the upcoming year.    With many town budgets down, the largest additional chunk of money being requested is a $665,000, 20-year  bond in Eden for a new heating system, as well as other projects. If approved, the bond will replace a 26 or 27 year old boiler, replace windows that the state says are too small to be used for egress, replace the gym floor, fix some paving/sidewalk issues and provide upgrades to the fire panel and alarms. They also need to replace a freezer and ...
    Posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:03 AM by Staff News & Citizen
  • Elmore Holds Firm     by Mickey Smith    The overall 2015-16 Elmore Town budget is up about $6,000 over last year, with the general operating account coming in about $140 less than the budget approved by voters last year.  The $6,000 increase comes from the Highway Department budget.    The biggest increases to the general budget come from a raise in their share of the Lamoille County Dispatch services and their County Tax responsibility. The Dispatch bill is up about $4,500.    These increases were largely offset by reductions in the zoning and planning commission budgets, but the largest reduction comes from a $10,000 reduction in the municipal water reserve fund. The general operating budget of $295,608.84 is up $140 ...
    Posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:02 AM by Staff News & Citizen
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Error Makes Eden Budget Look Higher

posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:08 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Mickey Smith

    On paper, the Eden Highway Department budget is up 15.67% but that includes a line item inadvertently left off last year's budget. Without the money to make-up this mistake, the budget would only be up about 2.51%.
    Two years ago Eden voters agreed to spend $200,000 over five years to replace a bridge on Whitney Lane. The first installment of $40,000 was included in the 2013-14 budget, but last year that payment appropriation was inadvertently left out of the budget, so the second installment could not be spent.  Now, the town is faced with $160,000 left to pay on the loan with three years left to pay it.  So they are asking the voters to split that payment into thirds and pay an installment of $54,000 this year.
    Without the changes necessary to get the town back on track to pay for the bridge, the highway department is only up about $11,500, for a total of $480,442.
    The Selectboard budget is down a similar amount, $12,000, for a total of $357,718.
    Other significant changes to the warning include a request to add the Lake Eden Association Greeter Program back into their local appropriations, and the Lamoille County Special Investigations Unit and Lamoille Economic Development Council have resubmitted requests after being denied last year.
    The Selectboard is also looking for input from the community on a couple of pending issues. They are asking voters if they should explore leasing Lake Eden Recreation Area and are also asking voters their thoughts on dealing handling properties that are not sold at tax sale.

Jeffersonville Water Main

posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:07 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Andrew Martin

   
Residents of Jeffersonville are being asked to boil their water for the next few weeks after a leak in the main village waterline caused water levels in the reservoir to drop to critically low levels. The leak in the main waterline was discovered on Thursday, February 19, when it became apparent that water levels in the reservoir were dangerously low and no water was flowing in. The leak in the main line was discovered soon after and repaired on the same day.
    According to a press release issued by Cambridge Emergency Management Director Doug Babcock the break in the main waterline occurred in the vicinity of Pleasant Valley Road near Jeff Heights. Along with disrupting the water supply, the leak also caused some damage to Pleasant Valley Road, which crews worked to repair at the same time that work to repair the waterline was conducted. Work to repair the village sewer line in the area was also required as a result of the damage.
    While the leak in the main waterline has been repaired and water pressure began returning to Jeffersonville residents soon after, officials are asking the customers of the 259 accounts served by the water utility to continue to conserve water as they expect it will take days or possibly even weeks for the reservoir to refill. The fire hydrants in Jeffersonville Village are also on the water system, meaning that until the reservoir is replenished the fire protection capacity is diminished.
    The low levels reached in the reservoir have also caused concerns that the drinking water for the village became contaminated.
    “This situation presents a significant health risk to users of the Jeffersonville water system,” the Boil Water Notice issued by the village stated. The release went on to explain that residents should not drink the water before boiling it for at least one minute. Tasks that the boiled water should be used for include drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until the village issues a notice that the water is safe to drink again. Once the water passes state and federal drinking standard again the village plans to notify customers.
    While no direct cause of the leak was listed, the press release explained that the deep frost and prolonged low temperatures are causing many water lines to break. If anyone in Jeffersonville notices water leaking or pooling in unusual areas they are asked to notify the Jeffersonville Village Offices during normal business hours at 644-5534 or by calling Cambridge Emergency Management at 1-802-644-6601. Anyone with questions regarding the water boil notice can contact Jeffersonville Trustee Bill Sander at 1-802-644-5487.

Belvidere Up $6,500

posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:05 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Mickey Smith

    The Belvidere Selectboard has presented a budget up $6,500 (about 4%) over last year's budget.
    The largest contributor to the proposed budget increase is a request for an additional $5,000 for winter road maintenance. The additional money better reflects the amount actually spent last year.
    Most of the adjustments made to the budget put the proposed expenses in line with actual funds spent last year. Listers’ salaries are proposed to be up $250 for that purpose, while auditors’ salaries are being reduced by $500.
    Fire protection and ambulance services are also up slightly. Johnson Fire Department, with whom Belvidere contracts for fire protection, is asking for $250 more and NEMS ambulance coverage is up almost $900.  The County budget assessment is also up, about $400.
    The budget also includes an annual request from the Belvidere Central School Board for $15,057 for the use of the Belvidere school building for things like, an emergency shelter and community building for general use.
    The warning does not include any additional articles, other than the traditional articles needed to run the town for the upcoming year.
    The seat currently held by Kenneth Adams Jr. is up on the Selectboard.

Stowe Town Budget

posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:04 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Andrew Martin

    Town Meeting Day is now just a week away and residents of Lamoille County will soon be voting on their proposed town and school budgets. Voters in Stowe will be presented with a proposed town budget which calls for a General Fund Budget in the amount of $11,083,075 for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16).
    While the proposed General Fund Budget is $11,083,075, the actual amount that would be raised by taxes in Stowe if voters approve the budget would be $8,352,254 while a total of $2,503,147 would be raised by non-tax revenues.
    In total the proposed budget and articles in Stowe will result in a town tax rate for FY16 of $.4070, a figure that is $.0120 higher than the FY15 figure of $.3950. That $.0120 figure represents a 3.04 percent increase in the tax rate.
    Along with the proposed budget in Stowe, voters will also be voting on Article 2 from the floor during the town portion of Town Meeting. That article asks the voters if they will approve the Stowe Selectboard allocating $460,000 of the accumulated Capital Fund for a total of eight capital projects.
    Voters in Stowe will also be casting their ballots in several Australian Ballot items on Town Meeting Day. Article 2 of the warning asks the town to elect one selectboard member for a term of three years, one member for a term of two years, and one lister for a term of three years. Article 3 of the warning asks voters to elect one school board member for a term of three years and one member for a term of two years.
    Article 4 on the ballot in Stowe will ask voters to approve the proposed Stowe School District budget of $12,217,575 for the upcoming year. The final item on the ballot, Article 5, asks voters to approve general obligation bonds for the town in an amount not to exceed $800,000 that will be issued for the purpose “of acquiring, replacing and/or constructing municipal electric plant improvements, namely substation transformers, CIS billing system & IT improvements and vehicle replacements…”
    The polls in Stowe will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Stowe High School Gym.

Quiet LNSU Budget Year

posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:03 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Mickey Smith

    HYDE PARK – District wide, Lamoille North Supervisory Union Business Manager Marilyn Frederick  said the Lamoille North Supervisory Union is looking at less than a 1% aggregate budget increase for the upcoming year.
    With many town budgets down, the largest additional chunk of money being requested is a $665,000, 20-year  bond in Eden for a new heating system, as well as other projects. If approved, the bond will replace a 26 or 27 year old boiler, replace windows that the state says are too small to be used for egress, replace the gym floor, fix some paving/sidewalk issues and provide upgrades to the fire panel and alarms. They also need to replace a freezer and will provide some additional storage space, through a partnership with the Green Mountain Technology and Career Center (GMTCC) building students.  Frederick said the new boiler and windows will be much more energy efficient.
    In the first year, the bond payment only covers interest and will add 0.6 cents on the tax rate. Frederick said year two sees the highest increase to the tax rate at about two cents, roughly a $51,000 payment.
    Frederick said the rest of the Eden Central School budget has seen a 1.34% decrease, at $2,826,403, if approved, this would result in a homestead tax rate, after CLA modifications, of $1.599 (up eight cents).
    In Belvidere, the only town in the district that tuitions all of their students, the budget is down 5.3% at $624,140. This results in a tax rate of $1.662, down a tenth of a cent from last year. Frederick said the Schoolboard tackled their budget with the intent of a flat tax rate, but sharpened their pencils a little more and actually brought it down under last year's tax rate.
    Cambridge's budget of $5,801,345 is up less than 1% (.99%). Frederick said they were able to reduce a teacher through attrition.  Frederick said this gives them classroom sizes of 23-25 in the fifth and sixth grade, something they are able to handle because of their bigger classrooms. This will create an adjusted homestead tax rate of $1.418 up three-tenths of a cent.
    At 2.99%, Hyde Park sees the highest increase in the district with their budget of $4,391,734.  Frederick said this increase is largely driven by special education costs. She said with this upcoming year's budgets, the state has set up a way for districts to take over special education costs, to help share the costs. In Lamoille North, they have been able to move the licensed staff to the district level, which resulted in a slightly more than $30,000 for Hyde Park. The district is in the process of renegotiating contracts, so in the future purchased services and paraeducators could be included as well. This could result in further savings.
    Despite the increase, Hyde Park adjusted tax rate is scheduled to go down by about two cents.
    In Johnson, the school budget is up only 0.63% at $4,325,365.  Frederick said they reduced a classroom teacher and reconstructed their preK program to also make a slight reduction. This results in an adjusted tax rate of $1.407 – up about 3.8 cents.
    Waterville's budget is up about 2.8% at $1,552,650.  Last year they were able to absorb a lot of their increase by applying a $100,000 fund balance. This year, they do not have that available so it will result in a nearly 20 cent increase to the adjusted tax rate.
    Lamoille Union's budget is up 1.254% and they are able to return a $200,000 fund balance to help defray the assessments to each community.
    At the GMTCC, the budget is down 0.03%. They are returning about $57,000  to lessen the impact on sending schools. They are also asking voters at their annual meeting on Tuesday, February 24, to create two reserve funds. One will be used for capital needs at the tech center, Frederick said they have a higher than expected surplus because they received the final installment from the state from the construction project about 9 years ago.
    One of the two reserve funds will be created for capital projects at the main GMTCC campus, Frederick said she knew one section of roof that was not replaced during the big construction project will need work soon.  The second will create a capital fund for program specific projects, as an example, the new agriculture program being created on land leased in Cambridge is going to need a building constructed.

Elmore Holds Firm

posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:02 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Mickey Smith

    The overall 2015-16 Elmore Town budget is up about $6,000 over last year, with the general operating account coming in about $140 less than the budget approved by voters last year.  The $6,000 increase comes from the Highway Department budget.
    The biggest increases to the general budget come from a raise in their share of the Lamoille County Dispatch services and their County Tax responsibility. The Dispatch bill is up about $4,500.
    These increases were largely offset by reductions in the zoning and planning commission budgets, but the largest reduction comes from a $10,000 reduction in the municipal water reserve fund. The general operating budget of $295,608.84 is up $140.66 over last year.
    In the highway account, the health insurance line item sees the biggest jump, increasing $8,000. Workers compensation insurance is also up, $3,000. Equipment insurance, though, went down $1,000. The selectboard is also asking for more money for sand and gravel – the two combined are up $8,000.
    An equipment loan for truck #3 coming off the books offsets much of the increases, leaving the highway budget of $430,350 up $6,325 over last year.
    The Elmore Fire Department and Fast Squad are requesting the same $37,850 budget they asked for last year.
    The total budget of $743,217.73  reflects about a 1.5% increase over last year.

GMP Makes Payments

posted Feb 27, 2015, 5:00 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Andrew Martin

    The Town of Eden is one of five that have received payments from Green Mountain Power (GMP) as part of the power company’s Good Neighbor Fund. 2015 marks the third year that GMP has made payments from the fund to towns neighboring the Kingdom Community Wind Farm in Lowell. Along with Eden, other towns receiving yearly payments are Craftsbury, Albany, Irasburg, and Westfield.
    The Good Neighbor Fun was developed by GMP as a way to share the direct value of the Kingdom Community Wind Farm with neighboring towns. Each year the five towns mentioned above receive a payment based upon how much power is generated by the wind farm. 2015 marks the first year that the power project has been running at full strength all year long and for that reason a total of $188,000 will be paid out to the five towns. That figure represents a $62,000 increase over what was paid out in 2014 from the fund.
    This year Eden received a payment of $72,061 from the Good Neighbor Fund. In 2014 the town received $45,711.53 from the fund and in 2013 a total of $5,638 was given to the town by GMP.
    “It’s nice to see GMP follow through on its promise and deliver a benefit to towns around Kingdom Community Wind,” stated Eden Town Clerk and Treasurer Candace Vear in the press release issued by GMP on the donations, “Our town plan is supportive of the project because of the clean energy it produces and the value we see as a neighboring town. This money will support important priorities of our town.”  
    In an interview with the News & Citizen, Vear explained that all the funds that the town receives each year from the Good Neighbor Fund are placed in special account. The funds will remain in that account until the Eden Selectboard decides how to best use them, although a small amount of the total was used last year to help cover Eden’s portion of the cost necessary to repave the parking lot at the North Hyde Park/Eden Fire Department.
    While Eden is the town receiving the most money this year from the Good Neighbor Fund, the other four towns have also received substantial amounts of money. Albany received $65,048; Craftsbury received $31,057; and Westfield and Irasburg received $10,000 each. Each town decides how the money it receives is used once they receive them.
    “When we invest in energy projects like KCW, it is important that we have the support of neighboring towns. We are so pleased to be able to deliver on our promise to benefit surrounding communities,” said GMP Corporate Spokesperson Dorothy Schnure in the press release on the payments, “The strong performance at the wind plant benefited the local community directly by increasing the amount we distribute through the Good Neighbor Fund.”
    According to Schnure, the amount a town receives from the Good Neighbor Fund is determined by how much of that particular town lays within a five mile radius of the wind farm. There is also a minimum payment that each town receives no matter how much of that town lies within five miles of the project, which is the reason why Irasburg and Westfield each receive $10,000.
    The amount paid to each town is based upon the amount of energy generated by the farm the year before. The wind farm began generating power in November of 2012, which is why Eden and the other towns received small payments in 2013. The farm nearly reached full production in 2013, which led the payment amounts to rise a great deal. However, a few small kinks had to be worked out during the beginning of 2013, which kept the farm from operating at full capacity. The farm did operate at full capacity throughout 2014, which led to the slightly higher payments received this year.
    According to Schnure when GMP established the Good Neighbor Fund, the intention was that the neighboring towns would receive payments for the first 10 years of the wind farm’s operation. She expects the payments that Eden and the other towns receive to continue for the next seven years at levels similar to what they received this year since the plant should continue to operate at close to full capacity for that time period.
    “We are right in line with where we expected to be,” Schnure explained with regards to how much power the wind farm is now generating, “The amount we generate moving forward will vary slightly depending on weather each year, but what was generated in 2014 is what we expect to generate every year, meaning that payments to the towns should be similar.”
    Along with the payments made from the Good Neighbor Fund to the five towns neighboring the project GMP also helps to pay the property taxes of residents of Lowell, the town where the plant is actually located.

Finances of Morristown/Elmore Schools Merger

posted Feb 27, 2015, 4:59 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Andrew Martin

    Officials at the Lamoille South Supervisory Union have completed an investigation and study of what the financial impact of a merger between the Morristown and Elmore school districts would be. Staff at the supervisory union level modeled a unified union tax rate calculation based upon the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 (FY16) proposed budget information that voters are being asked to approve this year, meaning that the figures that follow would be the budget being presented at Town Meeting next week – if voters had already approved a merger prior to this year’s budgets being formulated. 
    The budgeted expenditures for the merged district for FY16 would have been $15,359,781. Budgeted expenditures in the Morristown School District in the actual proposed budget for the upcoming year are $14,299,950 while budgeted expenditures in Elmore are $2,442,700. These two figures combined means that the actual proposed budgeted expenditures for FY16 are $16,742,650, a figure that is $1,382,869 more than the $15,359,781 proposed expenditures that would have been in a merged district.
    The budgeted available revenues in this hypothetical merger would have been $3,036,800, which would result in an education spending total for the combined district of $12,322,981. When coupled with the figure of 885.04 equalized pupils in this hypothetical merged district, the equalized spending per pupil that would have resulted is $13,924. These figures would translate to a local homestead tax rate of $1.422 for Elmore and $1.401 for Morristown in the proposed budget for the merged district for FY16. The $1.422 figure for Elmore would represent a decrease from the actual proposed local homestead tax rate for the upcoming year of $.279 while the figure of $1.401 for Morristown would represent an increase of $.020 from the actual proposed local homestead tax rate for FY16.
    “This suggests a 27.9 cent homestead property tax rate reduction in Elmore and a 2 cent property tax rate increase in Morristown,” Lamoille South Supervisory Union Superintendent Tracy Wrend explained with regards to what a merged budget would have looked like for the upcoming financial year for the two towns versus what is actually being proposed at Town Meeting.
    “This [merged] budget model includes grandfathering students who are already accessing school choice to schools other than PA and PAML for grades 7-12,” Wrend explained, adding that the cost of tuitioning those 15 students outside the proposed district is roughly $225,000. In order to better model the long term impact of the merger once school choice is phased out the estimated local homestead tax rate if those 15 students attended PA and PAML was also calculated. The end result of those calculations was that the local homestead rate for Elmore would decrease $.311 (a decrease of 31.1 cents) and decrease for Morristown in the amount of $.013 (decrease of 1.2 cents).
    These figures point to the fact that it would be in Elmore’s favor to approve a merger if the goal is a lower tax rate. However, Wrend also explained that even though the tax rate in Morristown would have been projected to increase slightly if the merger was already in effect there are other reasons Morrisville residents should consider the merger.
    “The obvious question is why should Morristown merge with Elmore if tax rates might go up?” Wrend stated, “First, these calculations do not include the merger incentives, which we would apply strategically to reduce the negative impact on Morristown's homestead taxpayers.”
    According to Wrend if a merger were approved the new combined district would receive a minimum of a $150,000 merger incentive grant from the state government. The Vermont Legislature is also considering other merger incentives that could be awarded to the new merged district. Wrend also explained that the funds from the incentive grants would also have a positive impact on Elmore as well.
    “Second, Morristown has to think about what might be lost if they don't continue the partnership with Elmore,” Wrend continued with regards to a second reason Morrisville residents should consider the merger, “If Elmore ultimately merged with a different district, taking its revenue and students with them, Morristown would face some difficult choices.”
    “Without Elmore's tuition revenue, Morristown would be faced with a $0.201 increase above the projected FY16 rates (20.1 cent increase),” Wrend added, “Alternatively, Morristown would need to reduce the budget $1,200,000, or 8.5%. This would be extremely difficult to do.” Wrend followed this up by using the example of the five percent reduction in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget for Morristown, which resulted in a reduction of $750,000 and eliminated over 26 positions in the district. 
    “The long history of cooperation between Elmore and Morristown has always made good sense in terms of cost effectiveness, quality and outcomes for students,” Wrend stated, “Morristown would benefit financially from stable, predictable enrollment and would cement the benefits of the historical, less formal partnership between the two communities.”
    “Elmore would also benefit from significant reductions in local homestead tax rates and would gain a voice regarding the PK-12 education of Elmore students,” she added regarding Elmore’s reasons for considering the merger, “The strong financial structure and larger number of students would also provide the best structure for preserving the Elmore School, if Morristown students could elect to attend the Elmore school if enrollment declines there.”
    Wrend also explained that while there are many reasons for Elmore to consider the merger, the potential loss of school choice for the town must be weighed and considered before a vote takes place. However, she further explained that the sting of the loss of school choice for all Elmore residents is lessoned somewhat by the new statewide program that allows students to apply for school choice. The new law allows up to 40 students or 10 percent of a school’s student population in grades 9-12 to apply for statewide school choice to any public school in Vermont. Students hoping to be awarded school choice go through an application process, and if more students apply than the school can send out, a lottery system is used. Any student who is not selected in such a lottery one year receives priority if they apply again the next year, and once a student is awarded school choice they have it throughout their high school career. As part of this new process each receiving school can calculate a figure of how many students they can offer school choice.
    Wrend emphasized at the end of her comments that both the Elmore and Morristown School Boards are looking forward to receiving input and comments from the community regarding the possible merger at both the informational meetings for the school budgets and at Town Meeting as well. The informational meeting in Morristown will be held Tuesday, February 24, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Morristown Elementary School Library. The Elmore informational meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 25, at the Elmore Town Hall beginning at 6 p.m.

Special Tax Assessment District

posted Feb 27, 2015, 4:41 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    By Andrew Martin

    Voters in Morristown who go to the polls on Town Meeting Day will be asked to consider a special article that would raise taxes in one specific portion of their town if approved. The taxes raised by property owners in this Special Assessment Tax District (SATD) would be used to fund the extension of municipal water to 19 residences in Cadys Falls.
    The private water system operated by the Cady’s Falls Co-Operative Water Supply System has a large Source Protection Area (SPA) extending from the Cadys Falls area across Route 15 into Hyde Park. Development in that SPA is made extremely difficult and expensive due to potential hazards that any development could create to the water supply of the homes in Cadys Falls. It is the owners of property located in the SPA for the Cadys Falls water system that would receive additional taxation in order to fund the extension of town water, thereby freeing their properties from the restrains currently in place on development on properties in the SPA.
    “There is a lot of land on the north end of town, near the Sunset Motor Inn, that is impaired in terms of development due to the restrictions being located in the SPA entails,” explained Morristown Planning Director Todd Thomas.
    “If the homes in Cadys Falls are hooked up to village water that encumbrance goes away,” Thomas added.
    The creation of a SATD requires the approval of the town voters. For that reason Morristown residents at the polls on March 3 will be asked to vote on Article 2 of the warning for the Australian Ballot portion of Town Meeting, which asks “Shall the Town vote to authorize the creation of a Special Assessment Tax District and authorize the Selectboard to levy an assessment to those properties receiving a benefit…” The article goes on to explain that the funds raised will be used to construct a waterline to serve the residents of the Cadys Falls area. In addition to Article 2 on the warning, Article 3 also asks voters to approve Morristown town officials borrowing bonds or notes not to exceed $250,000 for a term not longer than 10 years that will be used to pay for the construction of the new waterline. That $250,000 would then be repaid by the funds raised in the SATD.
    According to Morristown Planning Director Todd Thomas, the new waterline that would serve the Cadys Falls area would be extended from the waterline already serving Pinewood Estates. This new eight-inch waterline would be extended roughly 1,100 feet from Pinewood Estates to the vicinity of the homes in Cadys Falls. In addition, a smaller 4-inch service line would be extended 1,000 feet in another direction to service a small number of homes in Cadys Falls that would not be serviced by the main line.
    Thomas also explained that the main restriction that is placed on properties located in the SPA is the need to deal with any stormwater runoff that development could affect or increase. If stormwater runoff from any project could affect the water supply for the Cadys Falls system, the developer must spend thousands of dollars rectifying that situation. Thomas added that this restriction is relatively new. In years past the main concern when any development was taking place dealt with the septic of the project. However, in recent years the impact of a project’s stormwater runoff has been moving to the forefront and state regulations have begun to tighten with regards to how a project’s stormwater runoff impacts local water supply.
    Thomas used the example of the recently completed Maplefields on Route 15 to show just how regulations restrict development in the SPA for the Cadys Falls system. The Maplefields actually sits just outside the SPA, but construction was still delayed for months as the builder sought to remedy any stormwater runoff issues. In total, Maplefields spent tens of thousands of dollars in order to meet regulations despite the fact that the lot does not even sit inside the SPA.
    “Developing any of the property in the SPA would be very costly if municipal water is not extended and the current Cadys Falls system continues to be used,” Thomas added.
    It is for this reason that the landowners located in the SPA who own commercial properties will be the ones to fund the extension of the municipal waterline to the Cadys Falls homes. Thomas emphasized the fact that only 10 landowners in the SPA will be paying the new taxes to fund the project. No one outside the SATD will pay any additional taxes as a result of the creation of the district, and residential properties less than two acres located inside the SATD will also be exempted. Thomas explained that the commercial properties located in the SPA are the ones that will receive the benefit of the restrictions being lifted, so the owners of those lots are the ones who will be taxed to fund the project.
    “The residential properties inside the SPA will not be affected,” Thomas stated, “Those receiving the extra tax are commercial properties, businesses, and one property with multiple rentals.” He added that while no individuals like to see their taxes go up, the landowners inside the SPA who will be taxed more if the SATD is created have already been notified and understand why their taxes will increase.
    “Removing the developmental restraints associated with the SPA is important,” Thomas continued, “It could lead to new development.”
    “I do think that this will be a benefit to all parties involved,” stated Ari Souliotis, the CEO of Vermont Donut Enterprises, LLC, which owns land inside the proposed SATD.
    “The residents of Cadys Falls all support this project,” stated Brian Audet, the head of the Cadys Falls Co-Operative Water Supply System.
    “We’ve been looking forward to this for quite awhile,” Audet added when discussing the fact that residents of his village will no longer have to run their own water supply system. This will mean that the residents will no longer have to meet the stringent and costly standards that larger utilities have to meet as well concerning water quality. A second benefit that the residents will receive is the fact that the village waterline in Cadys Falls will also allow for the installation of a fire hydrant in the area.
    Planning Director Thomas also added that while the Cadys Falls community and the owners of the commercial properties inside the SPA are the main beneficiaries of the project, it will also have a positive outcome for other customers of Morrisville Water & Light. Village water rates will not be affected by the addition of the new waterline due to the fact that the residents of Cadys Falls will be paying for the hookups and plumbing changes necessary for them to receive village water. Once the new waterline is in place the residents of Cadys Falls will also continue paying monthly water bills at the same level that they currently are. The monthly bill for these individuals is currently higher than the average bill for a MW&L customer. According to Thomas, the residents of Cadys Falls will continue paying the higher rate for a time until the costs of infrastructure on their new line, such as water meters, is paid off. Once the project has been completed, the customer base at MW&L will have also grown, helping to lessen future increases in rates for the utility. The potential for new businesses in the SPA once the restrictions are lifted also would increase the tax base in Morristown.
    “The project will not affect taxpayers outside the SATD,” Thomas emphasized again, “This is the only way to make this project happen. We’ve looked at a number of other ways to hook Cadys Falls onto village water, and this is the only realistic way to accomplish it.”
    “Over the last few decades there has been a lot more money spent avoiding this problem rather than fixing it,” he continued.
    While the plan for the extension of the waterline to Cadys Falls is scheduled to cost $250,000 and be paid back over 10 years, Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley is hopeful that the project can be completed under budget.
    “We believe the estimates we have received for the project are slightly high,” Lindley added, “We have been good at bringing projects like this under budget in the past.”
    Lindley went on to explain that if the project does come in under budget, then the SATD will be lifted early. AT&T is also planning to build a cell tower on a portion of the SPA in the near future and is contributing a total of $3,500 to the project to help build the new waterline and lessen the restrictions on the SPA.
    According to Planning Director Thomas the fact that the cell tower could be built soon makes it even more important for the new waterline to Cadys Falls be built as soon as possible. If the creation of the SATD is approved by voters in March, then construction of the new waterline should take place this year. The town has received $30,000 from the state to cover the costs of the engineering for the project, and the actual construction of the line could start as soon as the new financial year begins on July 1.
    “It’s a pretty straightforward project,” Town Administrator Lindley added, “It shouldn’t take more than a month.” He added that once the waterline is built it will only be a few days before the residents of Cadys Falls are hooked up to the line.
    “Everyone has the same goal, and that is to get the Cadys Falls residents onto village water,” Thomas stated, “The state wants smaller water systems like theirs to merge with larger utilities, the residents of Cadys Falls don’t want to run their own system anymore, the village will receive more customers, and the town frees up a commercial district.”
    Anyone seeking to learn more about the proposed project to create the SATD and build a waterline to Cadys Falls can do so by attending the public information meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on February 24 at Morristown Elementary School.


This Week's Photos

POLAR SPLASH 2015! Tom Moog (above) tries his hand at walking across the water last Saturday in Elmore. Below, Vermont State Police Detective Sergeant Todd Baxter jumps in for the second time as part of Team Shock and Thaw, comprised of members of the Morristown Police Department and Vermont State Police.  Temperatures hovering around zero and winds whipping across the lake might have chilled those in attendance, but it didn’t cool the enthusiasm as a record 95 jumpers braved the elements. As of last count over $20,000 has been raised for the Morrisville Rotary’s Lake Elmore Polar Splash.  The Rotary will share the proceeds from the event with the Lamoille Restorative Center.
- Smith photo


Morristown Rescue

posted Feb 19, 2015, 11:58 AM by Staff News & Citizen

    by Andrew Martin

    Controversy continues to swirl around the Morristown Rescue Department and recent efforts by town officials and rescue squad members to cover shifts for the squad, which for the past several months has been understaffed. Members of the squad are protesting the recent contract initiated between town officials and Northern EMS. The contract calls for NEMS to cover shifts on Wednesday and Thursday nights until Morristown Rescue has recruited and trained enough volunteers to cover all its shifts. As part of the protest Morristown Rescue Board President Ryan Hannon recently took to Morrisville’s Front Porch Forum to raise awareness of the situation.
    “I want to start by saying my post was not meant to be slander or to market the selectboard as bad people, but rather to raise public awareness, let them know what's going on and that yes, there have been a few headaches between boards,” Hannon explained in an email interview with the News & Citizen in reference to his posts.
    “The long and short of it is, I'm new to the board and since being elected, and now having to work with Dan and the selectboard, there always seems to be... tension… I guess is the best way to put it.”
    “My post had two agendas,” Hannon explained, “First, every Morrisville and Elmore citizen has a right to know what’s going on with the ambulance service they rely on. Second, I hoped forcing it into public eye would put a little pressure on the board for some answers that we were not otherwise getting and encourage a positive change between the two boards.”
    In his posts on Front Porch Forum Hannon protested a number of recent events and actions by the selectboard, including a recent meeting to which Morristown Rescue was not invited. It was at that meeting that the board decided to contract with NEMS to cover the Wednesday and Thursday night shifts. He also stated that those shifts had actually been covered by current Morristown Rescue Squad members taking on extra shifts. According to Hannon, Morristown Rescue has also seen between 12 and 14 new members join the volunteer squad, with eight of those individuals already having taken the EMR course and who have now become, or are becoming, certified. Four of those individuals are also planning to continue their training by taking the EMT course starting in March.
    Hannon also pointed out in his posts that NEMS squads would have to travel much longer distances to cover Morristown. Hannon further claimed that contrary to what town officials have previously stated the new paid employees who are covering weekend shifts for Morristown Rescue can in fact volunteer to cover shifts on Wednesday and Thursday nights and that in fact some of those individuals are willing to do so. Hannon also pointed out that the town has not yet filled a paid training position that has been open on the Rescue Squad for several months.
    “I've been told we have a place in the budget to replace a part-time weekday employee we used to have (the position has been open for a LONG time), but that position has yet to be hired for,” Hannon explained in his interview, “That person would be a huge help… during the week on a couple of the days that we have a limited crew and I'm not sure why the position has been vacant for so long.”
    The Morristown Selectboard has stated that they are waiting for the newly created department head position for Morristown Rescue to be filled in order for that individual to take part in the hiring of the position Hannon refers to. The part-time training position will also be upped to full-time as part of the selectboard’s plan.
    Hannon also claimed in his Front Porch Forum posts that any contract with NEMS could not be terminated as quickly as Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley has previously claimed. In a second post on Front Porch Forum Hannon also pointed out that the $1,500 per week needed to pay for the coverage by NEMS could prove very costly to the town if the contract continues over a period of several months.
    “I sent Dan and the selectboard an e-mail after I made the post letting them know it wasn't meant to be slander or anything like that,” Hannon stated in his email interview, “…it was simply a public awareness piece to rally support. I also told them that of course I have no poor feelings about the selectboard but that things do need to change. There is no place for personal agendas or vendettas between boards…” 
    “We need to communicate and be working towards the same goals to function properly,” Hannon added. 
    Morristown Selectboard Chair Bob Beeman, who has served on Morristown Rescue for over 30 years and is currently on a leave of absence from the squad, responded to many of Hannon’s claims with a post of his own on Front Porch Forum.
    “I have loved and truly still love our Rescue squad but over the past several years it has been harder and harder to have full crews to respond to calls,” Beeman stated in his post, “…many towns across the country are seeing the same situation and have declining members in their volunteer organizations.”
    Beeman went on to explain that serving on the Morristown Selectboard has allowed him to see the other side of things when it comes to rescue.
    “As a town we have to make sure there is 24/7 coverage of emergency services or the town not only has a liability which could be severe but also faces the possibility of having someone dial 911 and have no one to respond,” Beeman stated, “The current schedule of Morristown Rescue has shifts that are not covered. That means we as a town have to make sure someone responds when an emergency happens. There have also been several calls where other Rescue squads have had to be called because we have not had a crew.”
    “We, (meaning the Selectboard), have made the decision to contract with NEMS… to cover some shifts until Morristown Rescue can have enough trained personnel to cover the shifts themselves,” Beeman continued, “There has been no intent to try to railroad or force Morristown Rescue out in any way.”
    At the time the board made the decision to contract with NEMS, the last schedule they had seen from Morristown Rescue had uncovered shifts. Since that time the shifts have been covered by the volunteers mentioned by Hannon who are taking on extra shifts.
    “Our Town Administrator Dan Lindley doesn’t do anything that we don’t as a board authorize him to do…” he continued in reference to Hannon’s posts regarding Lindley, “We are all hoping that our Rescue membership will rebound again and Morristown will be able to cover all of their shifts themselves. But until that happens we have to take steps to make sure that when someone in Morristown dials 911 an ambulance is rolling.”
    “Feel free to contact myself or any of the other board members or attend a selectboard meeting to get the exact account of the situation,” Beeman concluded.
    In his interview with the News & Citizen, Morristown Rescue President Hannon also addressed one other issue he and the squad were concerned with. Hannon pointed out that Article 13 of the Town Meeting Day warning asked for $75,000 be used to fund ‘additional ambulance services.’ Hannon explained that he and the squad would like the wording of the article to be changed to read ‘$75,000 to be used for additional Morristown Rescue ambulance services.’
    “Through all this we of course thank Stowe Rescue and Northern EMS (NEMS) for their tremendous support via mutual aid through our slump by making sure an ambulance made it to every call,” Hannon concluded, “Even in our slump we have been proud to support both of them through mutual aid calls as well and continue to do so. We also of course congratulate, thank, and welcome all our new members.”

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