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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673
802-496-3928
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"Only two bites out of the apple"

07/03/2008

To The Editor:

I refer to Lisa Loomis' article of June 26, 2008, "Citizens prepare petition for voter revote." There seems to be considerable confusion on the part of The Valley Reporter about the legitimacy of the proposed petition to again present the bond proposal to the voters of Waitsfield.

As the statutes provide, and as your paper confirmed, there can only be two bites out of the apple and legally the bond proposal can only be presented twice to the voters of Waitsfield. Thus, the petition to present the bond proposal to the voters of Waitsfield for a third time is a petition to undertake an illegal action, and since a third proposal to the voters would be illegal, the Waitsfield Select Board has no authority to entertain such illegal action.

Obviously then, the select board must reject this petition to bring this bond proposal before the voters a third time. There is a limitation of two bites of the apple and the Waitsfield Select Board cannot entertain an illegal third bite by the way of this petition. It simply has no power to do so.

It looks like someone is pulling the voters' chains. If such a twice only limitation is valid, and it obviously is, this attempt to circumvent the effect of the rule is likewise prohibited and the select board has no power to entertain any illegal action, regardless of what it involves, and regardless of how well intentioned such illegal action might be.

The Committee for Fiscal Responsibility

Arno Noack, chair

Waitsfield

Editor's Note:

Paul Giuliani, Waitsfield's attorney, was queried about the "second bite" of the apple to which Noack refers in this letter. Giuliani explained that under Vermont statute, a "municipal corporation may not submit to the voters more than twice in any twelve month period a proposition for incurring bonded indebtedness for the same or a similar capital improvement."

Regarding a petition from voters calling for reconsideration of the action taken at the June 10 vote, Giuliani said.

(1) Reconsideration is not a "second submission" under the statute. Reconsideration is a procedural motion that depends on the main motion (the June 2008 vote) for its existence. The "submission" process stays open for 30 days following the June 2008 vote. If a decision to reconsider is made by the Board on its own motion or as a result of a proper petition, the act of reconsideration is part of the original submission. Reconsideration is not a second submission of the same proposition.
 
(2) The statute talks about a municipal corporation submitting the proposition. Even if reconsideration is counted as a second submission under the statute, in this instance it did not come about by any action of the municipal corporation, that is, by action of the Board of Selectmen. To the contrary, reconsideration is the result of a petition signed by the requisite number of voters.
 
The Board does not have the opportunity to modify or adjust the text of the Article being petitioned for reconsideration. The exact proposition voted on in June is what is up for reconsideration.

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