The dark side
of Vernon

Editor of the Reformer:

Let’s examine the Defined Benefit Retirement Plan:

1. The Selectboard arbitrarily terminated the defined benefit retirement plan as of 12/31/2013. The Selectboard claims this is a money saving idea; they are "converting" to a 457(b) plan. This is simply not true: They are establishing a 457(b) plan not "converting" the defined benefit plan to it. What does this mean?

2. The taxpayers have covered huge market losses (more than $176,000) and plan fees (since 2003) in excess of $106,000 for the defined benefit plan: the town voted to move (at Town Meeting in 2013) $459,054 from our "Emergency Capital Reserve Fund" (originally moved from the "Water and Sewer Fund") to bring the retirement plan to full funding. The town also appropriated $43,357 in 2010 for this plan (grand total in excess of $502,411.00) Š Now, the Selectboard is going to actually disburse it in real dollars, to everyone in the plan, to folks much younger than retirement age.

3. In addition, the board now wants at least another $200,000 to fund the retirement plan for termination expenses. Once every town employee is paid out in full in June of 2014, there is no obligation for these folks to put any money in the 457(b) plan. This payout is a "hand out" for anyone in the plan as of 12/31/2013.

4. As of June 30, 2012, the plan was valued at $712,130. The plan is currently valued at more than $1,200,000. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to fund this plan fully with the sole intention of depleting every penny of it.

5. The plan’s normal form of retirement benefit is a monthly annuity check to retirees. By terminating the plan, everyone gets a distribution now, even those folks well under retirement age, to do as they want to with the money. The intention of this plan was to give a defined benefit to retiring town workers to help in their retirement, not to give everyone a payout prematurely.

6. I can understand freezing the plan and not contributing to it, but to fully fund it, then terminate it and pay out everyone is a huge burden to this town (or any town) and unnecessary.

7. I also question the "quorum" who did this under "conflict of interest" rules.

The Town meeting (March 3 and 4) promises to be volatile -- everyone with something to lose (or gain) will bring their relatives, friends and a cheering squad so they will be well represented -- to vote for their own self-serving interest. For those of us who question these things, and who stand up to complain, we will be tagged as the troublemakers and not loyal to the town employees/Selectboard: the folks who have managed to take our tax dollars for their own benefit and self-interest, and look good doing it will be applauded. This is the real dark side of Vernon.

Susan Cobb,

Vernon, Feb. 7

Wright on her candidacy

Editor of the Reformer:

As most people know, there is a vast difference between telling the truth and telling people what they want to hear. In that space many suppositions lie. For some, hidden agendas are acted out and untruths are spoken. A lack of diligence to the elected position is taken while sitting in the seat, a lack of action and of purpose. This is the pablum of bureaucracy, of making that sour taste of higher taxes and poor administration go down just a little bit easier, if you care to swallow it.

For others, like myself, an opportunity appears. To learn the 21st century needs required of the position, to seek out how best to do that in the time allotted. Facing challenges met by years of inattention to the tasks, correcting the course of municipal responsibility run aground. To take action where necessary, not to wait on others to do so. To stand in that place once firmly substantiated, no matter how unpleasant. Not come to lightly, it is a stance which must be, and can be, easily defended, despite the false shoutings of a few misled others. To tell the truth behind my actions and sleep well at night with those decisions is what I feel is needed, no, absolutely demanded, of filling an elected seat in this time and this place. Please vote for me on March 4.

Deborah Wright,

Bellows Falls, Feb. 10

Consider this ...

Editor of the Reformer:

The Los Angeles Times has adopted a policy that it doesn’t print letters that deny human-induced climate change because they have "an untrue basis."

Tim Stevenson,

Athens, Feb. 11