How vigorously should select board members who favor one position represent the minority opposing position during negotiations following a split vote?
That matter was the subject of some heated exchanges at the Waitsfield Select Board this week.
Since three members of the Waitsfield Select Board voted to proceed with negotiations with Fayston and Warren on creating the legal framework to bring a local option tax (LOT) proposal to voters, two dissenting members have consistently sought to discount that April vote.
After that April vote, board members Darryl Forrest and Kellee Mazer were appointed to the Tri-Town Negotiating Committee to work with two members of the Warren and Fayston Select Boards on a memorandum of understanding and bylaws to bring a local option tax before voters next year.
During negotiations, Forrest and Mazer brought concerns to the tri-town committee at the behest of fellow board members Sal Spinosa and chair Paul Hartshorn.
Hartshorn and Spinosa asked Forrest and Mazer to approach the tri-town group about splitting some portion of the LOT proceeds with Waitsfield keeping a percentage. The negotiators took that request to the tri-town committee where it was shot down.
The discussion of whether there should be a split was part of the April discussion and vote that led Waitsfield to join Warren and Fayston at the negotiating table. Three members of the Waitsfield Select Board voted to proceed. Two did not and seem unwilling to accept that they lost that vote.
Spinosa and Hartshorn asked Mazer and Forrest for a three-year exit clause allowing towns to leave the agreement, and when the tri-town committee rejected that for a seven-year exit clause, Spinosa and Hartshorn expressed indignation that their minority position was not being considered. The tri-town committee heard the request and rejected it.
And the issue of a split and an exit clause are still not resolved for the Waitsfield Select Board, despite the implications of that April vote. Those issues along with others are still on a memo detailing “policy questions” that the board must address as part of its review of the legal documents.
The vote in April was significant and it signaled the will of the elected officials to move in a particular direction with all that that implied – specifically, that all funds collected via an LOT would be invested collectively in The Valley.
A vote has consequences and must be respected.