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To The Editor:
A bit of recent history regarding Waitsfield town office voting: Vermont statutes regarding municipal bonding are specific as to process, timing, amount of borrowing permitted, extending even to the wording of article(s) in a bond vote. Requirements regarding wording make it very difficult to offer voters a choice between options. For this reason plus general voter concern with project expenses, the first bond vote addressed only the Farm Stand site, it being the lowest cost option and offering other merits.
Following the bond vote outcome, a limited time is available for reconsideration. During this period, any party may come forth with a petition calling for another vote or presenting other options addressing the original subject.
A question arose, after the Farm Stand proposal vote, why the church option was not offered as “next in line.” The process requires that a potential petitioner step up and do so, and the answer is the church support group did not step up. When the opportunity presented itself, the church group did not act in its own behalf.
In contrast, a group of citizens seeking to resolve the town office relocation issue and concerned with time limits and possible loss of potential major flood recovery assistance, opted to move the project forward. Volunteers – all unpaid – assembled, including architectural design and legal services. Both the Farm Stand and church projects were modified, resulting in cost reduction of $300,000 for each option. Despite difficulties posed by statutory requirements, the group felt voters should have a choice and worded the petition to enable this choice. That wording was challenged and conflicting legal opinions exchanged. An attorney hired by the town ultimately concluded it was not possible to word a petition enabling a choice – only one option can be offered, with a yes or no answer.
The town submitted an application for flood recovery assistance. It anticipates presenting another bond vote. At its Monday meeting, the select board formed a committee to survey community opinion regarding choice of sites and other factors – plans are to mail a questionnaire. Waitsfield voters are urged to respond – let’s work together toward achieving this long-standing goal of relocating our town office.