This week's news includes several stories about local towns receiving grants from a variety of state and federal agencies.
Waitsfield and Warren each applied for and received an $80,000 Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund that will go to defray the costs of each town building a solar array to provide all or most of the electricity for each town's municipal buildings and schools.
Waitsfield is completing a sidewalk project that was years in the making for which the town had 90 percent state/federal funding. The town's share of the $1.2 million project was $120,000 which left Waitsfield with a beautiful sidewalk running from the school to the south end of Irasville.
After the flood of 1998, Warren received a multi-million-dollar federal grant to create a water and wastewater system for the town. Waitsfield has received similar funding for its water project and is now able to turn wastewater loan debt into a revolving loan fund for decentralized wastewater projects.
Waitsfield has a Safe Routes to School grant that will pay $250,000 for a sidewalk on the west side of Route 100 from Old County Road to Valley Players Theater. That project is currently out to bid. Waitsfield has another grant to continue that sidewalk all the way to Bridge Street.
This week the Moretown Select Board interviewed candidates to be the project manager for a village sidewalk, for which the town has a $375,000 grant from the VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian Program.
Both Waitsfield and Warren are building new town offices thanks to Community Development Block Grants. Waitsfield received a $750,000 grant and Moretown received a $700,000 grant.
This is not a complete list, but it does demonstrate that local towns have harnessed the ability to write winning grant proposals and that there is a significant payback for local taxpayers. That payback represents taxpayer support of skilled professionals to write the grants as well as Valley support of the Mad River Valley Planning District from which local towns receive support.
If raising the tax rate by 1 cent raises approximately $35,000 in taxes, imagine the collective tax savings for just the few projects mentioned above.
The money spent on the people and organizations that are bringing in these grants is money well spent.