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Tri-town select board hears reports and requests

On Wednesday, November 14, the select boards from Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston came together to field budget requests from several Valley organizations. “Let’s talk trash amongst the tri-towns,” John Malter of the Mad River Resource Management Alliance said.

Malter, who was the first to appear before the boards, gave a condensed report of the Resource Management Alliance’s work over the past year. One of the organization’s biggest accomplishments in 2011-12 was Green Up Day, during which volunteers collected over 50 tons of tires as well as a considerable amount of scrap metal throughout the three towns. The Valley is still cleaning up after Tropical Storm Irene, Malter explained, and the organization’s next focus will be on properly disposing of paint.

For next year, the Resource Management Alliance is asking for $1,719 from Waitsfield, $1,705 from Warren and $1,353 from Fayston—the same amount that they asked for from each town the previous year.

In closing, however, Malter brought up what “could be a game changer for our community,” he said, and that is the closing of Moretown Landfill. If the landfill does not secure the permits it needs to re-open Cell 2 and construct a fourth trash cell on site, it will have to reduce its trash intake to about 100 tons a day starting this winter.

While this reduction is troubling for the state—Moretown Landfill is one of Vermont’s two facilities—luckily for The Valley, Moretown Landfill has said that they’ll “prioritize local waste,” Malter reported.

Next up, Ken Felderman said that the Mad River Valley Recreation District is asking for $16,000 from each town for next year. Looking at how this figure breaks down, the budget for the Mad River Path Association has been doubled for 2013—from $10,000 to $20,000—“because we’re feeling like towns all favor extending the path,” he explained.

Currently, about one-third of the Path Association’s budget comes from the recreation district, which makes it possible for the association to hire a full-time executive director. While various members of the select board expressed their support for the path and for its executive director Will Flender, they also requested a broken-down budget plan to help explain the increase in funding.

Representatives from the Mad River Valley Health Center then came before the board to give their annual update. This year they’re asking for $5,000 from each town—the same as last year—even though, according to Duncan Brines, “there’s never enough money.” Each year, the Health Center has to make up for its budget deficit through fundraising, Brines said.

This year, the Health Center hopes to explore new ways to save money and increase its revenue, but Fayston Select Board member Jared Cadwell said he would continue to support the organization either way. “It’s a huge benefit to have a medical center right here in The Valley,” Cadwell said. “We can’t expect it to be a profit-making enterprise.… That’s the nature of health care.”

Green Mountain Transit Agency was up next before the boards, with a request of $923 from Waitsfield, $943 from Warren and $588 from Fayston—the same as last years.

“I’m always impressed by the amount of transportation you do for the elderly and the disabled,” Waitsfield Select Board member Charlie Hosford said, and other board members nodded in agreement.

Next up, Martha Englert of the Central Vermont Community Land Trust gave a brief overview of the care they provide to disabled and elderly populations in The Valley, including regular check-ins so patients don’t wait so long to go to the emergency room, which ends up saving money and sometimes lives.

This year, in keeping with their request that 1 percent of costs be covered by the communities they work in, the land trust is asking for $1,000 from Waitsfield, $750 from Warren and $250 from Fayston.

Next up, Mad River Valley Seniors’ president Carole Crossman introduced Kathie Friedman, who will be taking her place as president. For next year, the MRV Seniors are asking for $7,000 from each town—the same as last year.

“We’ve saved a lot of money over the last four years by not having a site manager,” Friedman said. This year, however, the board has decided to lift some of the strain put on them and has hired someone to work as site manager for 10 hours a week.

“I think this is going to bring the whole thing together,” Crossman said.

Central Vemont Home Health and Hospice then put in their request for $3,350 from Waitsfield, $4,000 from Warren and $2,500 from Fayston. The budget for Waitsfield and Fayston has increased since the previous year, but only slightly.

Due to its quiet constituency, it could be easy to overlook the work that the organization does for the elderly in The Valley, representatives explained, but Home Health And Hospice’s employees currently number around 250—and that doesn’t include its over 100 volunteers.

And lastly, the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD)—which organized the tri-town meeting—explained its request for $23,764 from each town and from Sugarbush Resort. This year’s request has increased 13.1 percent from last year’s $21,010, but “this is only the second increase the planning district has asked for in 12 years,” MRVPD director Joshua Schwartz said.

Schwartz outlined several of the planning district’s current projects, including working with the Environmental Protection Agency to build flood resiliency in The Valley, working with the University of Vermont on a local community initiatives course and much more.

In fact, there are so many projects that the planning district has “maxed out,” MRVPD member Bob Ackland said, as the district is currently operating at 38 percent above capacity. This year, the district faces a budget deficit of $6,800, but a surplus from last year will make up for all but $1,000 of the shortage.

That being said, “there’s some real soul searching that has to be done, in terms of who should be contributing [to the district’s funding],” Ackland said.

In the upcoming months, Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston will discuss whether they can fulfill each organization’s request, but at the end of the night, Waitsfield Select Board member and meeting moderator Sal Spinosa praised the effective format of the tri-town meeting.

“I think this thing works every year,” Spinosa said. “We have a lot of fun, and we get things done.”

 

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