I’d like to respond to Lori Houghton’s letter. She is right: “Unfortunately, Vermont is not immune to the tactics that are often employed at the national level -- lies and omissions.”
Our elected officials are no exception, and they take full advantage of their positions to exercise these tactics. For example they have full access to all Front Porch Forums in their district, but individuals do not.
Flier, official statement, radio interview, or what you hear mask to mask, voters have the task of evaluating and then deciding.
One of the issues Lori addressed in her letter:
Question: Do We Retain Our Assets?
Answer: As a new combined community, we bring our assets together.
Sounds simple. Pool our assets. But is that really what’s happening? Let’s think it through.
First, Town (townwide) assets are “together” now. Merger or no merger, Indian Brook Park / Reservoir remains a property of the Town, controlled and managed by the Town Selectboard. All Town residents, with or without merger, have the same access, including those who live in the Village.
Next, let’s consider a Village asset, say, the Super Sucker 5000. This is a vehicle that is 100% Village owned, bought and paid for by Village-only taxes, controlled and managed by the Village Trustees serving only the Village. With merger the Super Sucker becomes a Town vehicle, controlled and managed by the Selectboard serving the entire Town.
So yes, with merger all assets do come together, but only Village assets’ value transfers to the entire town, diluting that value among twice the population and eight times the area.
This may be just fine with some folks who believe the slogan, ”We’ll be stronger together!”
But I have to ask, if the value of all the Village assets (Fire Station, Maple Street Park, Village Hall, Brownell library, etc.) become assets of the Town, why isn’t that true for Village debt too?
Imagine you have a house with a mortgage. You get married and the prenup requires adding your spouse to the deed of the house, but not to your mortgage. You now share the house, but you remain 100% liable for the mortgage.
Does that make sense?
Voters must apply a strong dose of critical thinking. To make it even more challenging, Merger has many dimensions.
One such dimension is how will planning/zoning (currently separate departments) be merged? Here is a critical question - shouldn’t planning and zoning have been settled before voting on merger rather then wait till October 20th to even start that conversation?