When a select board takes a vote and a motion passes, that motion or the action it calls for becomes the will of the town as expressed via the votes of its duly elected representatives.
It’s rather surprising then to find that some members of the Waitsfield Select Board seem to feel there should be some sort of a do-over on a vote that the board took on April 22. That vote was a 3-2 vote for the board to appoint two of its members to join select board members from Warren and Fayston in negotiating a tri-town memorandum of understanding to create a 1 percent local option tax (LOT) on rooms, meals, alcohol and retail sales.
The negotiations are aimed at coming up with a tri-town agreement to enact the LOT and use the $700,000 it will yield to invest in Valleywide issues such as housing, transportation, recreation and marketing. The issue will come before voters at Town Meeting.
Now the two members of the board who were on the losing end of that vote are intent on some sort of revisiting of the town’s “policy” in terms of local option taxes. That’s not how it works. As one select board member said, “Voting has consequences,” and the consequences of losing are such that the minority should not be dictating proposed changes or “policy.”
The proposal to bring a vote to all three towns on creating a local option tax has been under consideration by a subcommittee of the Mad River Valley Planning District for almost 18 months. Waitsfield, like Warren and Fayston, has representation on the subcommittee as well as the steering committee of the planning district.
The time for “policy” discussion is past and it might be argued that Waitsfield did have a “policy discussion” on April 22 when the board voted to sit at the negotiating table with Warren and Fayston.
The call for more time to discuss policy amounts to a thinly veiled effort to change the outcome of that vote in an effort to allow Waitsfield to keep some or all of the LOT funds raised in Waitsfield for its own municipal uses.
Any effort to relegislate that vote or its consequences is inappropriate and disrespects the democratic process.