Planners, ACEDC wary of proposed budget cuts

MIDDLEBURY — Local planning and economic development officials on Wednesday were lobbying hard against proposed state budget cuts they said could dramatically affect their ability to deliver services in Addison County.
The Legislature and the Douglas administration in January agreed to jointly seek $38 million in budget cuts to help shore up a $154 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2011 budget.
The Douglas administration last week released its proposed menu of $38 million in cuts in a “Challenges for Change” document that has drawn criticism from several local lawmakers. The administration is recommending, among other things, a consolidation of school districts, release of some non-violent offenders from prison, and emphasizing preventative care for health recipients in order to reduce costs on the future.
Also on the Challenges for Change list is a proposal to save $3.4 million over two years by consolidating economic development and regional planning resources into nine “regional service centers.” Those services are currently delivered on a county-by-county basis. Officials at the Addison County Economic Development Corp. (ACEDC) and the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) said they are concerned at the changes could result in their services being shifted to offices based in Rutland or Burlington. This, they reasoned, could affect the quality and timeliness of services available to towns and entrepreneurs seeking planning or economic development resources.
As the Addison Independent went to press, ACEDC and ACRPR officials were working with their colleagues statewide to draft alterative cost cutting proposals. The Independent will update the progress of those efforts in next Monday’s edition.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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