Wilmington voters offer input on capital reserve fund

Wednesday January 16, 2013

WILMINGTON -- Voters gathered for another night to give the Selectboard input on setting up a capital reserve fund for the use of the 1 percent local option tax revenue stream, which will begin to come in this year.

Selectboard member Susie Haughwout said that funds will be "an important part of rebuilding infrastructure and promoting efforts for economic stability."

Voters have been vocal on their opposition for using those funds to offset taxes in the future. Most want to see the board set up a capital reserve fund to promote efforts for economic development.

At the special Selectboard meeting on Monday, Haughwout mentioned that the talk over the option tax funds has been a "passionate discussion," and recommended that the board put together a "basic map or plan to show voters before Town Meeting."

"I think what we need is a business plan," Selectboard Chairman Tom Consolino said.

The aim would be to clarify for voters what projects would be funded by the capital reserve fund if approved.

"The town attorney (Bob Fisher) suggested coming up with examples for economic and community development," said Consolino.

"(Bob) called it a purpose statement," Town Manager Scott Murphy added.

The board then voted on how the articles should read, determined to make sure offsetting taxes wouldn't be a result of the capital reserve fund it is attempting to set up for residents to vote on.

It is the job of the Selectboard to present voters with articles that set up an account for these funds, but it is ultimately up to voters to decide what the local option tax revenues will be used for.

The board voted to keep Article 10, which sets up and establishes the fund, but the motion to approve Article 11 was not carried out. One issue with Article 11 had been with wording the use of the reserve fund. The board discussed whether it should include the phrase community development along with economic development.

The other issue with Article 11 that some voters and board members have been tackling is the recommendation from Fisher that Article 11 come up annually for voters to decide on at Town Meeting. Some believe that this could lead to instability in regards to momentum for the economic development plans.

"I'd like to highlight that whatever language is passed becomes reality for the future," said Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold.

One voter was concerned with another piece of the language in the proposed Article 11.

"It doesn't say ‘all' monies collected," she told the board. "There's probably going to be $100,000 collected next year."

"We can add that," Murphy told her, meaning the word "all" to include money taken in starting in 2013 and continuing through 2014.

The board will meet again on Wednesday to discuss the two articles. Murphy and board members were concerned with correctly phrasing the language for the articles. They were seeking guidance from Fisher.

"We've been talking to him today," Murphy said. "We're hoping to have the warning finally be approved at Wednesday's meeting."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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