Archive - Apr 15, 2008
BY JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC) will carry a lighter financial load in financing two new building projects thanks to $191,000 in federal money recently secured by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Leahy assistant John Goodrow confirmed the federal earmark at a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, April 10, in Middlebury’s Catamount Park that drew Gov. James Douglas, CSAC staff and board members, representatives of project contractor Naylor and Breen Builders, and other guests.
Thursday’s groundbreaking was for a new, 18,500-square-foot office building that will house the agency’s developmental services programs and its administrative offices, freeing up all of the smaller building for programs serving children and adolescents.
The project will also include a two-story addition of about 2,400 square feet at the back of CSAC’s downtown office at 89 Main St. The addition will provide more accessible offices, a larger group room, and an elevator to improve access to much of the existing building.
Robert Thorn, executive director of CSAC, said the new structures would carry great symbolic, as well as utilitarian, significance.
“To me, these buildings and projects are going to be a memorial to how much people have had to deal with in their lives, their perseverance and courage,” Thorn said. “It’s great we are going to have these buildings, but it means so much more to me.”
It was in 2005 that CSAC launched a fund-raising campaign to generate $680,000 toward the estimated $4 million price tag for the two projects. The agency recently reached its goal. The remaining projects costs will be covered by a 30-year, $2.9 million bond arranged through the state of Vermont and through additional CSAC funds, some derived from the sale of other property the agency will now no longer need.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MONTPELIER — In a venue where the passage of legislation is often measured in months, a bill that would pave the way for Middlebury to adopt local option taxes to help fund a new in-town bridge shot through the Statehouse like a meteor last week.
“We could have hardly asked for a better alignment of the planets,” said Middlebury Town Planner Fred Dunnington, who spent last Wednesday, April 9, testifying on behalf of the town before various legislative committees.
The Middlebury charter change bill was scheduled to hit Gov. James Douglas’s desk by Friday, April 11. Douglas, a Middlebury Republican, has already said he supports the bill and its purpose of allowing Middlebury the option of generating around $7 million toward a new in-town bridge at Cross Street in the downtown.
Douglas’s expected signature on the bill would allow selectmen to proceed with their goal of holding a town meeting vote in late May on implementing local options taxes of 1 percent on sales, rooms, meals and/or alcohol purchases in town to raise revenues for the bridge project.
Middlebury College has already pledged $9 million toward the $16 million undertaking, which will include a roundabout intersection at Main and Cross streets.
Individual towns in Vermont cannot levy their own taxes unless their charter, which is approved by the Legislature, allows it. Middlebury’s charter did not allow local taxes.
Reps. Steve Maier and Betty Nuovo, both Middlebury Democrats, got the legislative ball rolling last month after townspeople voted in favor of the in-town bridge project and to proceed with the charter change.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Around 60 Middlebury voters on April 9 overwhelmingly approved, by voice vote, a 2008-2009 Mary Hogan Elementary School budget of $5,624,785.
Voters asked ID-4 school board members several questions during a roughly hour-long discussion that preceded the vote. Serena Eddy-Moulton, chairwoman of the ID-4 board, said some of the voters’ questions keyed on the impact of the spending plan on the local education property tax.
While the budget reflects a 2.59-percent increase in spending, it results in an 8.4-percent hike in the homestead education property tax rate for Middlebury residents. The rate for Middlebury homeowners will be $1.576 per $100 of property value, up about 12 cents. That represents an increase of $240 on a $200,000 home.
The education tax rate in Middlebury for non-residential property will increase 13.7 cents, or 10.2 percent, to $1.48 per $100 of property.
The hike in the education tax for homeowners is the result of the “common level of appraisal,” or CLA, provision of the state’s education funding law. The CLA compares local property value assessments with the state’s estimation of actual market value. Communities in which property is less than, or more than, market value are required to adjust their tax rates. The goal of the CLA is to equalize property taxes across towns.
In Middlebury’s case, local property was judged to be appraised below market value so the CLA pushed up the education component of the property tax.
“People didn’t understand how the CLA affects the budget,” Eddy-Moulton said of a recurring theme at the April 9 meeting.