April 9th, 2015
SHOREHAM — Local lawmakers at Monday’s Legislative Breakfast at the Shoreham Congregational Church shared details the fiscal year 2016 state budget of $1.46 billion.
Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, a member of the House Appropriations Committee explained what was a difficult process of closing a $113 million revenue shortfall. The committee ultimately recommended $52.8 million in long-term cuts, $23.8 million in one-time cuts and revenues, $35 million in new fees and taxes, and $1.7 million in earnings from renting prison beds to the federal government.
MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will come up with funding for an environmental assessment of the historic powerhouse site just below and to the north of Middlebury’s Otter Creek Falls. This comes in the wake of concerns the property might harbor some contamination as a result of industries that operated there during the 19th century.
Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay said the town would be able to apply for additional state and federal funds to clean up any contamination that might be found on the property.
BRISTOL — A divided Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School board on Tuesday evening warned a new budget proposal to put before voters next week.
The vote in the five-town area will take place on Tuesday, April 14, the same day residents in Bristol and Monkton will weigh in on new spending plans for their elementary schools. Voters in all three school districts rejected fiscal year 2016 spending proposals on Town Meeting Day.
Addison Northeast Supervisory Union voters on Town Meeting Day rejected the Mount Abe budget proposal by a tally of 1,241 to 1,088.
MONKTON — Vermont Gas Systems on Monday announced it had begun eminent domain proceedings against two Monkton landowners along the route for Phase I of the company’s Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project pipeline.
The push is part of an effort by the company to secure all the land rights it needs to complete the 41-mile pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes. The company said it now has secured rights from 85 percent of the 200 landowners along the route.
SHOREHAM — The Education finance reform bill approved by the Vermont House last Thursday would accomplish three things, according to Rep. David Sharpe: set a statewide education property tax rate, cap school spending for three years and create larger school districts.
The Bristol Democrat, who chairs the House Education Committee, described the bill at a Legislative Breakfast in Shoreham on Monday, where local lawmakers also shared details of what has already been a busy April in the Statehouse.
Bill H.361, as described by Sharpe on Monday, would:
NEW HAVEN — Judith Irven of Goshen, a landscape designer, garden writer and Vermont Certified Horticulturist, will talk about garden decoration in a presentation titled “From Classic to Whimsy” at the New Haven Community Library on Wednesday, April 15, at 7 p.m.
MIDDLEBURY — Betty Hampel makes it very clear that it’s not about the money. Just like her cat Cricket thrives on “sunshine and love,” she’s taken a similar approach to her writing.
“Artists are this way,” the Middlebury author said. “As long as they’ve got somewhere warm to sleep, food to eat, something to write on, they’re fine. You really don’t need much else.”
As the Senate takes up the House passed education bill, H.361, the goal in the legislation is to take small steps toward progress, allow for local control and not threaten schools or communities with repercussions that cause undue hardship. The legislation does this, ironically, by being purposely imprecise. But it’s that imprecision that critics have attacked.