Local select boards and other boards are hearing a proposal from a subcommittee of the Mad River Valley Planning District on the merits of the planning district’s three member towns adopting a local option tax to re-invest in the community.
The subcommittee, Mad River Valley - Funding Local Opportunities or MRV-FLO, has met with the steering committee of the Mad River Valley Planning District as well as the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
The MRV-FLO committee also met with the select boards of Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston, the three member towns of the planning district on November 13, and asked that all three boards discuss the proposal and the committee’s plans to begin community outreach.
The Waitsfield Select Board discussed the proposal at its November 19 meeting with the upshot being that the board will ask the MRV-FLO committee to come to a meeting in December.
But prior to that, select board member Darryl Forrest, a member of the MRV-FLO committee, asked the board for the OK to continue outreach on the proposal. One board member opined that the MRV-FLO committee should not be presenting this information to the public until the Waitsfield Select Board had completed its vetting.
The sheer hubris of that statement is astonishing. Does that mean that the Waitsfield Select Board must digest and approve all information presented to its voters from any and all community groups before those groups carry out their own work?
The idea of a local option tax is not new. It’s been raised repeatedly over the past five years via a variety of different initiatives including two Valley economic studies, the Mad River Valley Vision and Vitality workshop series, the Community and Economic Development Committee and the Community Vitality Project. Each member town in the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) has a select board member on the planning district’s steering committee and the MRV-FLO committee.
To suggest this is a new idea is disingenuous at best and alarming at worst. No member town in the MRVPD gets to dictate the work and public outreach of the planning district. Nor does the Waitsfield Select Board have the authority to suggest that any public group or committee needs its permission to conduct public outreach in our community.