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Letter to the editor: Panton board blamed for mistake

In August (Addison Independent, 8/30/2018), Howard Hall, chair of the Panton selectboard, bragged that they had significantly reduced the tax rate by using surplus funds. Then it was pointed out that those surplus funds had already been designated for the town hall restoration fund and the highway equipment fund.
In other words, using them to lower the tax rate was a no go. A new tax rate would have to be adopted and new tax bills prepared. Now (Addison Independent, 10/4/2018) he claims the error was due to a flawed spreadsheet prepared by the town clerk/treasurer.
His two statements cannot both be true. How can you brag about doing something and then say it was a mistake, but not your fault? The Panton selectboard made a mistake and is now trying to unfairly shift the blame to another town employee.
This is not the first instance of fiscal incompetence, and probably won’t be the last. They should have known in July when they set the tax rate that something was wrong. The first clue should have been that the budget went up modestly and the tax rate went down precipitously. Unless there was a significant increase in non-tax revenue (NO!) or a significant increase in the grand list (no, again), a tax rate reduction would not have been impossible.
Doug Dows
Panton

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