By Larissa Ursprung

Exciting news, neighbors! Waitsfield voters have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue funding to promote Mad River Valley housing, public health, and environmental and historical conservation -- all it costs us is the time to educate ourselves, and to vote. 





The Waitsfield Community Wastewater Project’s incredible team has been working tirelessly to line up funding applications for a municipal wastewater system, which USDA Rural Development Community program director Misty Sinsigalli called a “…project that is necessary and inevitable.” The future funding of this project is in the voters’ hands with the bond resolution vote (by mail, or in person) on June 11.

Don’t let the sober tone of the ballot language distract from the optimism for our community. After cohabitating with a lawyer for 10-plus years I’m mostly immune to the harmful effects of legalese, but if you looked at the bond resolution language and felt confused or anxious or frustrated, you weren’t alone. The statutory requirement for this language manages to both bury the lead and cause understandable distress. The exciting part comes after the project price tag: this is a unique opportunity to reduce project costs by utilizing” . . . state and federal funds including . . . grants-in-aid.” 

This is an amazing and fleeting opportunity for Waitsfield and the Mad River Valley as a whole: if the bond vote passes, the project team can take the next steps needed to pursue 100% project funding through federal and state grants and loans (with no change to the property tax rate). If the bond vote fails, much of the identified potential funding will no longer be available to the town. As Ms. Sinsigalli put it, “Those monies are here, they are now!” So, I hope my neighbors will join me in maintaining a joyful sense of ‘carpe diem!’ (not to mention carpe pecuniam!) even while wading through the solemn legal language on their ballots. 




At the public community meeting on May 8, Ms. Sinsigalli provided additional context about funding opportunities for this project, and the bond resolution language:

“I’ve worked on many a project in my 10 years . . you couldn’t ask for a better group. They’ve worked really well with all of us funders to make sure we are on the same page. We base our underwriting on the fact that [future wastewater system] users will be paying for this, that there is nothing on the taxpayers . .  We want to see the users on this system have an affordable user rate. . .  As someone who’s worked in financing a lot of different projects throughout VT and NH . . I will say this with certainty -- you will never see a funding stack like you see on that page.”

When asked about why the full project amount has to be included on the ballot, Ms. Sinsigalli explained: “We do require as part of our funding, the full project amount [be included on the ballot]… For our program, our grant, our loan, it’s a requirement . . . in all honesty it’s about community buy-in, showing there is community behind the project.”

Although I am the newest member of the Waitsfield Select Board, I write here not in any official capacity but rather as an individual community member who enthusiastically buys in and is behind this project. I’m your neighbor who dreams of growing both her family and business in this remarkable place, as part of a community dedicated to the sustainable health and happiness of future generations. 

Larissa Ursprung lives in Waitsfield.