Debt and transparency

When the 2013-1014 town budget vote occurs on March 5 it is helpful to know where the debt level per tax dollar currently resides. The latest audit states that 13 cents per tax dollar is for debt retirement in the general fund while water and wastewater is 18 and 31 cents per dollar. This is a high cost to taxpayers. Guidelines suggest three cents and in short extraordinary cases no greater than 10 cents per dollar.

All three accounts have been well above the 10 cent level for the past five years. It was encouraging to see a 91 percent voter turnout in November reject a town request for $70,000 for a Form Based Code consultant study. This rapidly turned to discouragement when the Town Manger resubmitted the $70,000 into the present budget. While there is now some grant money the voters said no to the spending.

In an op-ed piece published on Feb. 7 in the Shelburne News local businessperson, Kevin Clayton, brought to the towns attention the need for transparency in the proposed redesign of the town center roads and traffic patterns as it directly affects several businesses and residents who were not contacted. Chittenden County Planners provided the plan and the Shelburne’s Planning Commission was not involved.

Then there is the issue of street light removal. The Town Manger sent a card stating that the then current street light bulbs would be replaced with diode bulbs. This was a smart move as it afforded greater light and conserved energy. However, again disappointment ensued as between 100 and 200 street lights were removed with entire neighborhoods plunged into darkness. All that one hears from the Town Manager and Selectboard is that a Street Light Policy is continually under review and requests for lights are continually denied.

This manner of debt and non-transparency is unwarranted, and needs to cease. New Selectboard members are needed. Ideally they should come from a varied experience base, and have served the town in voluntary service which would enable them to quickly and effectively act.

There are two candidates who measure up to these criteria. Toni Supple, a native Vermont, who is a co-founder of Picket Fence Preview and a member of the Shelburne Planning Commission. The second, also a native Vermonter, is Bob Lake. He has been in law enforcement, is the current Chairperson of the Board of the Green Mountain Credit Union as well as Shelburne’s Health Officer. Both have the requisite budget knowledge.

Your support for these two candidates would be a positive step for Shelburne which needs an election rather than a re-election.

Norm Silcox, Shelburne

 

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