Waitsfield Town Meeting 2024. Photo: Lisa Loomis

Waitsfield voters adopted the town’s proposed budget of $2.752 million budget with $2.292 million to be raised from property taxes and approved two articles creating reserve funds for the planning commission and for gravel. 




By Australian ballot voters reelected Fred Messer to the select board for three years and Chach Curtis to the board for two years.

The meeting opened shortly after 9 a.m. on March 5 with moderator Kari Dolan leading voters through the warned items and town reports. 

During that discussion of reports Waitsfield firefighter and longtime former fire chief and select board member Paul Hartshorn said firefighters are waiting on engineering and logistics for a system to launder their turnout gear after interior firefighting. Having that gear cleaned by a contractor costs $3,300 per fire. Select board chair Christine Sullivan explained the process of getting that cleaning setup organized. 


Turning to the Conservation Commission, commission chair Curt Lindberg said that the highlight of 2023 was the gift of the 110-acre Fairground Parcel that abuts Wu Ledges and includes riparian frontage. Another highlight, he said, was the creation of new trails in the Scrag Mountain town forest. 

Jean Joslin from the Joslin Memorial Library board recognized Carol Hosford for many years as a library trustee.  

Larissa Ursprung, former member of Wait House committee asks if there's been decisions on whether uses of the historic building would be expanded or stay the same. Board member Brian Shupe says the committee is working on it and Sullivan later reported that the town received an anonymous donation of $40,000 for the General Wait House and then another $1,000 donation. 

When state representative Dara Torre, D-Moretown, took the floor, she said “this session has been challenging,” referencing the education funding crisis and the decades overdue discussion that needs to happen at the state level on how schools are funded. 

“Hopefully, we will make some real cuts to the budget,” she said.  





Town resident Matt Lillard, asked Torre what the Legislature and she are doing to fix education funding.  

"What is the Legislature doing to fundamentally fix a broken system," he asked, to applause from the crowd.

Torre said studies have been done and that there are other funding models to refer to.  

“The chickens have come home to roost on this. We're all seeing what an unsustainable funding model looks like,” she said.  


Hartshorn was back at the microphone to ask why a proposed town wastewater system would allow more infill development in Irasville and Waitsfield Village areas when municipal water was supposed to do that and did not.  

Board member Chach Curtis took the opportunity to explain the town’s process so far on municipal wastewater as well as the current funding landscape in terms of state and federal grants.  

Curtis explained that municipal wastewater would replace private leach fields in the two village areas and pointed out that the town needs it to protect the Mad River, protect public health/drinking water and build housing. Many village systems are in the flood plain and next to wells which is a public health risk.

Curtis said that the town water system did alleviate some well shields but town zoning needed to be changed to foster housing in those two village areas. He noted that existing septic systems take up a lot of developable room on village lots.

The projected cost of the system, which will serve Irasville and Waitsfield Village areas, is $15 million and the town expects to receive $13.5 million in state and federal grants if the town can show an affirmative bond vote this summer. Some of the state and federal funding is ARPA money which had to be allocated before November. The balance of the cost would be secured through low interest long-term loans that users would pay back.  

Paul Hartshorn came back at the microphone to ask how much development can happen in the wastewater service area which includes a lot of wetlands. He also said that building more than two-story buildings would require new firefighting equipment and a new fire station. 

Robert Gamache and Emily Rodin, reporters from the UVM Community News Service contributed to this reporting.