Members of the Mad River Valley Funding Local Opportunities (MRV-FLO) subcommittee, who have been on a listening tour talking about adopting a local option tax, are taking some time to determine next steps.
The subcommittee has been working for a year on a proposal to have voters enact a 1 percent local option tax on rooms, meals, alcohol and retail sales. Such a proposal would raise an estimated $700,000 annually that would be invested in housing, transportation, recreation and destination marketing.
The working group is a subcommittee of the Mad River Valley Planning District’s steering committee.
“We’ve taken this proposal on a listening tour and heard your questions and your concerns. We’re synthesizing that information now and will come back to the community with a targeted public outreach plan,” said Jared Cadwell, chair of the Fayston Select Board and chair of the subcommittee as well as a member of the steering committee.
“We learned a lot and got great feedback in each town and changed a few details of the proposal thanks to that great feedback. We’ll incorporate that feedback and get back to voters after Town Meeting,” said Bob Ackland, a member of the subcommittee, the steering committee and the Warren Select Board.
Both said they had been impressed by people’s interest and passion as well as their attention to details regarding the proposal.
“These are questions and comments from people who care about the future of their community and who care about investing in it and who care about how we do that,” Cadwell said.
Over the course of four months members of the subcommittee met with people in Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston as well as the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce and other community groups.
At each venue, they were peppered with questions on how the LOT would be created and administered, the types of projects the funds would cover, how it would be governed and the reason The Valley towns would voluntarily adopt a 1 percent LOT. They heard concerns about new taxes and concerns about issues as complex as direct democratic representation versus elected.
“Our community members are paying careful attention and that’s why we want to get this right. We see this as an opportunity to take charge of our own future and start working to create economic vibrancy and resilience for the next 50 to 100 years,” Cadwell added.
The LOT proposal involves the member towns in the MRVPD voting to adopt a charter and enact the 1 percent tax. The funds would be managed by a commission made up of one elected and one person appointed by each select board.
Community groups, towns and others would apply for grants that the commission would release after holding a public hearing.