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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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"Voters entitled to better treatment"

05/22/2008

By Melissa Sun

If the upcoming special vote on a municipal water supply system is any indication of what I can expect from this newly constructed select board, then I think we citizens are in for some disappointing and disturbing times.

As someone who lives and operates a business on Route 100 in the center of Irasville, I think I need to break my silence and mention a couple things that really trouble me. First, on Town Meeting day of 2008, the town voted on this water project. An enormous number of voters cast their ballots and voted this project (as well as the wastewater project) down! There was nothing misleading or confusing about that vote. Yet three months later we are spending extra tax money to have a special election to vote on the water project again. The town has spoken; why isn't the select board listening?

When the water and wastewater project were first proposed, I signed up with the understanding of the costs and benefits. With these utilities, I was hoping that the value of my property will appreciate and may even be redeveloped. After further consideration, talking to people, examination of facts and comparing with neighboring municipal water projects, I have doubts about this project.

Because I speak to a lot of folks in the course of my business I know that folks were concerned about the cost. They either didn't know what this would cost them or didn't have any confidence in the estimates that were provided. Well, I for one am still uncertain about what it will cost and don't know why I should rely on the estimates I am hearing. In this sense nothing has changed...except, of course, that all the costs will be absorbed by the users only. Sounds to me like it will be more expensive for those of us in Irasville.

My greatest concern involves the widespread suspicion that the board may be trying to manipulate the revote. People may already sense that their point of view doesn't matter and that the board will order one revote after another until it gets its way. If their vote doesn't matter, people will simply not vote. Add to that the scheduling of this revote for June when folks are away, vacationing, busy or for other reasons distracted from the importance of this vote. Shame on the board if they considered this combination of factors to overturn the vote.

If the select board thinks the water project needs to be reconsidered by the voters, then they should examine the project even more than they already have, provide us with more reliable cost figures and, out of respect for the voters, schedule any revote for next Town Meeting day. Voters, no matter which way they cast their ballots, are entitled to better treatment than they are currently receiving from our select board.  

Sun lives in Waitsfield.
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