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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Time to show respect for the wishes of the people of Waitsfield

04/10/2008

Craig and Kerry Keown

On Town Meeting Day, in one of the largest voter turnouts that the town has ever experienced, the bond issue for a municipal water and sewer system was rejected. During the month since then, the select board has continued to support the system and continued to spend tax dollars on a proposal that was clearly turned down. This week, a "post bond vote task force" will hold informational meetings, explore alternatives and seek input from those who voted no.

Our hats are off to board member Roy Hadden who has publicly stated that he thinks that the voters should be respected. To say that those who voted against the measure are misguided, uninformed and mistaken, or that they need to be re-educated is insulting and undemocratic. What part of "no" is it that the board does not understand? When the voters decline, why does the board continue to waste our tax dollars in a rebuke of our voted decision? It's the board that does not understand, not the voters.

For those who want "input" from those who voted against the bond issue, there are many good reasons and combinations of reasons that have been published in the paper prior to the vote. The board has also created sugar-coated pamphlets of explanation that were distributed town-wide. As a result, the vote was made by a well-educated population. For those who still don't understand, here are a few reasons why the issue failed.

•  It's too expensive. The amount is stunning to even non-frugal Vermonters.

•  The timing is wrong. Everyone is tightening their purse strings for obvious reasons.

•  Taxes are too high and, therefore, anything that raises taxes is a non-starter.

•  There is no direct benefit to the majority. There is direct benefit to a certain few.

•  Increasing build-out on thin soils and sensitive wetlands is a poor plan.

•  Even the perception of taking someone's property is to be avoided. Eminent domain has never been exercised by a town in the history of Vermont. We should not be first.

•  The effect of increased infrastructure is to increase taxes in the long run. This is a huge increase in infrastructure that will result in long-term costs to all.

•  The cart's before the horse. This project should have been pre-funded in small steps instead of pie-in-the-sky wishful cost projection prior to grants that have yet to be achieved. Too much money has been wasted already.

•  The project is poorly subscribed even by those it would supposedly benefit. This is because of the high cost of hooking up and the way too high cost of use.

That is not all. The board needs to respect the democratic will of the voters by stopping this poorly conceived project now. Cease throwing good money after bad. It's way past the time for our deplorable roads to be repaired by the state. It's time to stop wasting our tax dollars on litigation and time to build bridges to the voters with compromise and good will. Roy Hadden is right and it's time for the board to show respect for the wishes of the people of the town.

Craig and Kerry Keown live in Waitsfield.
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