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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Water and sewer boarding

02/28/2008

By Olin Potter

The meeting held Wednesday, February 20, at the Waitsfield movie theater by the select board produced a few very interesting bits of information about the funding for the planned water and wastewater systems. These multi-million-dollar projects are up for votes (three to be precise) at the Town Meeting on March 4, 2008.

The three votes concern funding for: A) water supply from Tremblay Road, along Route 100 to Fiddlers Green; B) a partial sewer system for Irasville along Route 100 to Fiddlers Green; and C) a capacity increase to the sewer system of B. As an afterthought, there is to be a water line extension to cover Old County Road for fire protection.

As was explained at the meeting, funding for the water system by itself is to be self-supporting -- that is it will be paid for by the users; no town-wide tax increase is anticipated for this.

Not so for Parts B and C above. The select board is saying a 1.5 cent/$100 of R.E. value is needed for the sewer system(s) project.

Now, these are all very worthy projects and I think that because of the financial self-paying water supply project, it should obtain a positive vote. Not so for the other phases, however.

The question has been asked repeatedly, why should those in the town who derive no benefit from the project be forced to pay for others enjoyment? Answers at the meeting last week varied from "shopping and services will expand" to "it will increase your civic pride to contribute," all of which falls on deaf ears when all of us have recently been oppressed by the recent evaluation tax increase.
 
Some will say, "Well, it's only 1.5 cents; surely that isn't too much to ask." This is a donation they are asking for. The low amount is the "camel's nose under the tent." Once you've voted for this, you're stuck with the increases that are certain to follow and my understanding is that this amount is not yet determined for the phase three sewer.

Personally, I would like to see all three of these worthwhile developments proceed, but not by those out of the service area footing the bill. I would vote for funding of B and C only if there is no tax rate increase. One thing about the last minute addition of the Old County Road fire protection proposal: The people affected will be forced to pay a fee if their dwelling is within 1,000 feet of a proposed hydrant.

I've been told also that if these projects are defeated and discontinued, the tax rate could go up to perhaps 48 cents/$100 due to the necessity of paying off short-term loans generated by money's already spent on the project, which almost smacks of blackmail.

My answer to the funding question for B and C is to divert a necessary part of the taxes paid by those whose property values go up due to the sewer and water service, and eliminate the proposed town-wide tax.

Olin E. Potter is a Waitsfield resident.
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