January 7th, 2010
BRISTOL — Scrambling to cobble together an unexpected $475,000 in spending cuts, the Mount Abraham Union High School board of directors Tuesday reviewed preliminary cost savings that include eliminating three staff positions as well as trimming funding for maintenance and technology spending.
The cuts come after the board discovered last month that an accounting mistake would in many ways send administrators back to square one to draft the high school’s 2010-2011 spending plan, all while grappling with an unexpected deficit nearing $500,000.
SHOREHAM — The workday commute between New York state and Addison County got considerably more challenging on Sunday when the Ticonderoga Ferry closed for the winter.
The ferry — which links Shoreham with Ticonderoga, N.Y. — had to close after its 8 p.m. run on Jan. 3 because its owners were unable to extend insurance coverage deeper into the winter.
MIDDLEBURY — John McCardell, Middlebury College professor and president emeritus, will leave Middlebury College after a 34-year stint at the school to accept the position of president of Sewanee: The University of the South, effective July 1.
College President Ronald D. Liebowitz shared the news with the college in an e-mail on Wednesday.
Politics is nothing more than understanding ambition and the conditions that produce it, and there is a surfeit of both as the Vermont Legislature begins its work.
It will be a session unlike any other. Legislators will be faced with a $150 million hole in the budget that needs to be plugged. It has an unemployment trust fund that is about to run bone dry. And it is dealing with a state economy that is anemic, at best.
The general conclusion is that we must learn how to do more with less, or, as the governor suggests, to do less with less.
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents on Jan. 26 will be able to weigh in on a proposed fiscal year 2011 municipal budget that is $50,468 less than the current spending plan and that would maintain the same municipal tax rate as this year.
The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday officially OK’d, for public hearing, a proposed municipal spending plan of $8,127,649 — of which $1,250,000 is associated with debt service on the new Cross Street Bridge. That expense is being covered by a bond issue, with the debt retired through local option taxes and a substantial gift from Middlebury College.
The coincidence of having two of my three post-college-age daughters home over the holiday and it being the end of the first decade of the 21st century prompted this observation: While New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning economist Paul Krugman called the decade past “The Big Zero” for the economic stagnation that pervaded the Bush years, my daughters’ view of the decade was one of excitement and optimism.
Consider their perspective.
MIDDLEBURY — It was way too frigid to pause for a view of the Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury last week, but a work crew braved the elements to rough out the contours of a new park area in the Marble Works that will really start to take shape next spring.
The legislative session that began this week will be one of the most important in years. Key budget policy issues — for the state and for school districts — are on the agenda. Vermont Yankee’s license expires in just over two years, and the Legislature must take positive action if the plant is to continue operating. Much of the session will be driven by the politics of the first open-seat gubernatorial campaign in eight years.