Some 30-plus people were Zoomed into Fayston’s pre-Town Meeting this week, to hear from select board members and others about the items on the warning for Town Meeting.
Prior to the informational meeting, the select board had its regular meeting and voted to drop the town’s mask rule for this week’s meeting and to let the current mask rule lapse on February 26.
Board chair Jared Cadwell opened the meeting with a historical anecdote, explaining that in 1804 a vote was taken on whether Fayston should merge with the town of Waitsfield.
“The vote was resounding no and 218 years later, Fayston is thriving and doing well,” Cadwell said.
Cadwell took a moment to acknowledge Faystonians who died in the past year, reading a short list of names.
State representative Kari Dolan, D-Waitsfield, who represents Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston, Moretown and Duxbury along with representative Maxine Grad, D-Moretown took the floor next.
Dolan, in her first of four informational meetings on Tuesday night updated the board on the work she and Grad have been doing on budgeting, workforce development, housing, child care, climate change, infrastructure resilience and more.
Cadwell explained the town offices to be voted on and board member Chuck Martel explained Article 13 which sets the date for property taxes to be due and to become delinquent. If the article passes by Australian ballot next week, taxes are due 30 days after the bills are generated and taxes are late on November 1.
On behalf of the select board Cadwell thanked town employees for their hard work over the past year and also complimented the road crew, whose members worked throughout the pandemic with no days off and had a very productive year.
Cadwell praised local efforts to respond to a legislative apportionment board plan to split Fayston between two new single representative districts as part of the state’s reapportionment plan. He said the town Board of Civil Authority’s strong response was critical to keeping Fayston whole.
He explained the board’s efforts to work with Waitsfield and Tripp Johnson, the Waitsfield-Fayston Fire Department fire chief, on equipment and capital budgeting for the fire department.
He warned people to expect to a town-wide reappraisal sooner versus later due to the fact that properties in Fayston have been selling well above the town’s appraised value – some 15-30% higher, he said. That means the town’s common level of appraisal is now at 89%.
“And that 89% is without including the end of 2021 sales and those that have taken place in 2022. It’s a reflection of how intense the housing market is here in The Valley in general,” Cadwell said.
Board member Mike Jordan detailed specifics of this year’s budget and pointed out that there is an $8,000 error in the budget where a cost that should be attributed to the road department is included twice, once for the road department and once in the planning and zoning department.
Because the total town budget of $1,440,458 is being voted by Australian ballot that mistake cannot be corrected from the floor of Town Meeting as it would be in a normal year.
Jordan explained that road department materials are less this year and said that Fayston, like other Vermont towns, is purposefully using less salt on town roads this year.
“We’re reducing the amount of salt that we buy. We’re keeping the asphalt roads as clear as we can. Salt does a fair amount of environmental damage,” Jordan said.
The board and those present then heard from Peter Colgan and Corrie Miller of the town conservation commission about the commission’s outreach around the Boyce Hill Town Forest and ongoing fundraising efforts. Not surprisingly, recreational access is a priority for most people who participated in the public engagement process. And interestingly, more people than expected were concerned about accessibility on the property, Colgan said.
The board heard from members of the Mad River Valley Recreation District board who spoke in favor of the town adding $10,000 to its regular payment of $30,000 for the district and then heard from Eric Friedman of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce regarding $5,000 for the stewardMRV program and zoning administrator Hanna Neill who detailed how Articles 17 and 18 (authorizing cannabis retailers and authorizing cannabis licensees) would work.