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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Why Waitsfield residents tax bills will be lower by having town sewer and water

02/14/2008

By Robin Morris

As both a Waitsfield resident and business owner I support the Town water and wastewater proposal to be voted on Town Meeting day.

As a resident, the additional cost to our taxes will be 1.5 cents which is equivalent to $30 on a $200,000 house. What should be factored in is the town has spent approx $1.4 million on this proposed system to date and will have to repay at least $645,000 in loans if we do not proceed with both the water and wastewater proposal. According to town officials, the tax increase for this repayment would be $48 on a $200,000 house.
 
As a co-business owner with real estate in Irasville, we desperately need municipal water and wastewater systems.  In the last five years we have turned down enquiries from multiple businesses that wanted to be located in The Valley because we could not meet their water and septic needs. Some of these businesses are now located in Waterbury, a town with a municipal sewer and water system. Over the last five years the town has diligently worked to reduce and limit the economic impact of this proposal on the taxpayers of Waitsfield by:

a. Securing $2.9 million in federal funds;
b. Seeking additional state grants of at least $1.8 million for water and low interest loans;  
c. Currently applying to become a TIF district that will allow the town to keep all the taxes from future development in Irasville and Waitsfield Village -- yes, we can keep the money back from the state to invest in Waitsfield;
d. Worked on increasing zoning density in Irasville that will encourage lower cost residential development for people in our community who have to leave The Valley because they cannot afford to live here;
e. Coordinating with VTrans so that Route 100 will be repaved and have sidewalks in 2010; this significantly reduces costs to the town, as the state is going to effectively pay the cost of repairing the road after the piping is laid.
 
The current economy while looking bleak has had a silver lining for this proposal. Interest rates have come down and will make the cost of borrowing for the bond the lowest in many years.

My belief is this is our best opportunity for many years to move forward with this water and wastewater proposal. The town has a good plan, a water source, the grants, access to low interest rates, the state repaving, and a minimal cost increase on the real estate taxes; plus monies not sent to the State when the Town is approved as a TIF district.
The alternative, if the proposal is voted down, will be higher real estate taxes in Waitsfield, continued exodus of working people from The Valley due to housing costs, loss of state and federal grants, repayment of planning grants, and a downtown that continues to suffer.

I urge every Waitsfield voter to learn more about this proposal and to vote on March 4.
 
Robin Morris lives in Waitsfield.
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