The Warren Select Board has weighed in with support for taking the discussion about a proposed three-town local option tax forward for full community discussion.
The first public hearing designed specifically for hearing from community members about a local option tax proposal is slated for tonight, December 13, at the Waitsfield UCC Village Meeting House at 7 p.m.
A subcommittee of the Mad River Valley Planning District is recommending the three member towns of Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston consider asking voters to approve a Mad River Valley – Funding Local Opportunities (MRV-FLO) plan which includes a 1 percent local option tax (LOT) on rooms, meals, alcohol and retail sales. To adopt such a tax, voters in each of the three towns would need to vote for a charter change for the planning district.
Such a tax would raise about $1 million of which the three towns would retain $700,000. The funds raised would be earmarked for local projects and initiatives such as affordable housing, transportation, recreation and destination marketing.
The fund would be administered via grant application process by a commission made up of one elected and one appointed person from each town, plus one member of the Mad River Valley Planning District steering committee.
At the Warren Select Board meeting last week, board chair Andy Cunningham opened the meeting with comments about the MRV-FLO committee’s request to each member town for support for taking the proposal to the general public.
“We’ve been reading a lot in the paper about the MRV-FLO LOT discussion and have seen that other select boards have been in favor of continuing the conversation and I guess that’s what we’d all agree, that we don’t know if we’re for or against it, but we want to hear more and want to hear it flushed out better. Let’s see where this goes and let’s not shoot the messenger. Let’s be there and ask questions. Bring it on,” he said, referring to tonight’s meeting in Waitsfield.
The Fayston Select Board last month expressed its support for the members of the MRV-FLO committee to take their board to the public. The Waitsfield Select Board, during a November discussion of the MRV-FLO committee for approval to take the idea to the public, was less than supportive, with board member Sal Spinosa stating that the proposal should not go forward for public outreach until it had been vetted by the Waitsfield Select Board. Ultimately the board voted to ask the MRV-FLO committee to come to its December 17 meeting for further discussions.
When the Waitsfield Select Board met again on December 3, Spinosa told the group that he had his own set of questions to submit to the MRV-FLO committee, some of which, he said, mirrored the 30 questions presented by board member Kari Dolan.
The MRV-FLO committee responded to Dolan’s questions in writing.
“You will gather from the responses that in almost all cases we have considered these points in the work of the sub-committee over the last 8 months in reaching the recommendations we have made. As we have emphasized, our current proposal is a draft, which we look forward to refining through continued public feedback. However, we strongly believe that the overall approach remains the best way to ensure the sustainable vitality of the Mad River Valley Community for the future,” committee members wrote to Dolan before delving into the specifics of her questions.
The MRV-FLO committee has created a website where the proposed bylaws, case statement and other details about the LOT proposal can be found. That information can be found here: https://mrvpd.org/flo/.