Archive - Jul 3, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
RIPTON — Ripton residents, still struggling to secure federal aid to repair local roads, culverts and bridges hammered by last month’s flood, are now finding themselves taking on Washington, D.C., over the loss of yet another public asset: Their local post office.
Like the June 14 storm that swept away portions of North Branch Road and several of its connectors, last week’s post office closing came suddenly, stunning the more than 200 residents and businesses leasing mail boxes in the Ripton Country Store.
“A lot of people in the community are very upset,” said resident Paul Bortz.
So upset, that more than 170 people have signed a petition titled “Save the Ripton Post Office,” and more than 100 people rallied at a meeting on Tuesday evening to see what could be done to save their post office.
First came a sign in the store on Wednesday, June 25, stating closure of the small office was imminent. The next day, each box holder received a letter signed by East Middlebury Postmaster Sean T. Donahue confirming the Ripton Post Office would end what locals believe has been a more than 150-year run on Friday, June 27. The letter indicated that service was being transferred to the East Middlebury Post Office.
Adding to the shock for residents was the fact that the letter gave no explanation for the switch, other than “the Ripton Contract Post Office has provided the USPS with their termination notice effective Friday, June 27, 2008, at 5:30 p.m. As of June 28, 2008, we will no longer be delivering mail to the Ripton Contract Post Office.”
Donahue declined to comment and referred all questions to U.S. Post Service public relations office in New Hampshire.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — Vergennes aldermen on Monday approved municipal spending for the July-to-June fiscal year that, combined with taxes needed to back school spending, required a 3.6 percent increase in the city’s residential property tax rate.
Aldermen set the new overall residential property tax rate at $1.7454 per $100 of property value, up by roughly 6 cents from the 2007-2008 rate of $1.6846.
They said that increase will require about $120 a year more in taxes for a home assessed at $200,000, or $30 per quarterly payment.
Aldermen also set the new city budget at about $1.54 million, an increase of about $102,000, or roughly 7 percent, from a year ago.
Most of the 6-cent hike to the tax rate was driven this year by city spending: more than 3.7 cents of that increase came from the municipal base rate of 60.29 cents, which includes a small amount needed to pay for voter-approved property tax reductions for disabled veterans. Last year’s municipal portion of the overall property tax rate was 56.35 cents.
The school tax portion of the overall rate for homeowners rose by about 2.35 cents to $1.1425 cents. The combination of the school and municipal hikes creating the overall increase.
As is the case statewide, the non-residential tax rate will be higher. In Vergennes, the overall commercial rate will be $1.8379 per $100 of property value, an increase of about 7.1 cents.
That hike will translate to an increase of more than $140 a year per $200,000 of assessed value.
Aldermen said City Manager Renny Perry did well to hold the line on city spending considering rising fuel, energy, salt, paving and insurance costs.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
NEW HAVEN — Residents of New Haven on Tuesday voted to spend almost $600,000 to build a new town hall and rejected a proposal to allow commercial development on a Route 7 parcel.
By Australian ballot, residents were opposed, 192-126, to a proposal to change the New Haven land use map so that a 30-acre parcel on the west side of Route 7 just south of Belden Falls Road would be zoned “Commercial Highway,” rather than “Rural Agricultural-10 acre.”
The southernmost 10 acres of that parcel is already zoned for commercial development and is the site of Ethan Allen Highway Storage. The family of Steve Dupoise owns the storage business and the entire 30 acres.
Dupoise said during informational meetings before the recent vote that if the change was approved he planned to sell a 5-acre piece of the land to Town and Country Homes, a Vergennes business that sells modular homes. He had not announced plans for the remaining 15 acres that would also be opened up for development.
Not surprisingly, Dupoise was disappointed in the outcome of Tuesday’s balloting.
“It’s kind of a sad day when you own a piece of property … and somebody else says what you’re going to do with it,” he said on Wednesday morning.
Dupoise declined to comment in detail on his plans now that the petition failed.
“I’m not sure I want to divulge that at this point in time,” he said.
Dupoise said he might consider an agricultural use of the land, since that is what it’s zoned for, or he might try to get the status of the land changed again in the next renewal of the town plan about three years from now.
TOWN OFFICE BOND