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Salisbury’s future in BLSG debated

Through the grant, the BLSG would have to continue to serve Salisbury. (Salisbury) was not expecting to receive free services.
—Paul Vaczy

BRANDON — At an Aug. 19 meeting held on Zoom and at the Stephen A. Douglas House, the Brandon Leicester Salisbury Goshen Pittsford Insect Control District board members were conflicted about Salisbury’s future with the district.

The BLSG bug district voted in July to resume the insect control services to Salisbury, overturning a June 24 vote to cancel servicing the town. This initial cancellation was in reaction to the Salisbury residents voting not to fund the BLSG on Town Meeting Day.

“I think this frustration on both sides,” said Paul Vaczy, who is a member of both the BLSG and the Salisbury selectboard.

“I think there’s also (a) lack of concrete method to move this forward,” he added. “And there’s also a number of residents of Salisbury and the selectboard (who feel) that there is a lack of trust with regards to the operations of the BLSG.”

SALISBURY SUSPENDED

In March the town’s citizens voted to suspend their annual funding of the BLSG, withholding $25,411. A main reason for the vote’s outcome was local concerns about the BLSG’s use of adulticide to kill mosquitoes.

There are two types of mosquito control. Adulticide is where pesticides sprayed from a truck kill fully grown mosquitoes. Larvicide is where pesticides are dropped onto aquatic areas where newborn mosquitoes live, killing them before they mature enough to fly.

The BLSG uses both methods of mosquito control. The neighboring Lemon Fair District — which services Cornwall, Bridport and Weybridge — only uses larvicide.

Salisbury’s vote was partly in response to the objections to adulticide mosquito control expressed by environmental groups, including the Vermont Endangered Species Committee.

The committee recommended that the state require BLSG apply for a special permit to continue its adulticide program, which could be potentially harmful to endangered bats. The state ruled in July that the BLSG was not required to apply for a special permit.

Although Salisbury voted to suspend funding of the BLSG, the town did not vote to leave the district.

In a June meeting, the BLSG board voted to suspend all services to the town of Salisbury.

SALISBURY REDUX

But within one month of freezing services to Salisbury, the insect control district rescinded that suspension on July 21.

An annual state grant gives the BLSG and the neighboring Lemon Fair District $70,000 each. The grant requires that the funds be spent on only larvicide costs.

Another string attached to the grant is that all towns in each district must be serviced.

Vaczy said that he and some BLSG members learned about the grant’s requirements at a July 20 BLSG special meeting with Patti Casey, the environment surveillance program director at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

“Through the grant, the BLSG would have to continue to serve Salisbury,” Vaczy said. “(Salisbury) was not expecting to receive free services.”

Since July 21, the BLSG has continued servicing Salisbury — but only with larvicide.

At the Aug. 19 meeting, some BLSG board members expressed frustration over Salisbury being required to receive services despite the town’s vote to not pay its dues.

“The words that were stated at the (July 21) meeting pinpointed an issue with the town of Salisbury,” Vaczy said at one point during the Aug. 19 meeting.

A board member shot back: “There is an issue with the town of Salisbury — with regards to their being a member of the BLSG.”

Several times during the meeting, Vaczy characterized a growing discord between Salisbury and the BLSG.

“I don’t think we’re going to necessarily come to an agreement this evening,” Vaczy said after an exchange with members. “To be perfectly honest, if the Department of Agriculture had not let it be know that in order for the BLSG to receive their grant (they had to service Salisbury), I think a good number of residents were prepared (to not receive BLSG services).”

The meeting concluded with a discussion of budget proposals for the fiscal year. Some members floated the idea of drafting two budgets in the case of the possibility that Salisbury votes to leave the insect control district next March.

Board member Doug Perkins said the district only needed to draft one budget. He also estimated that Salisbury’s service costs would be covered primarily by the state’s larvicide grant.

“It’s not skin off our backs,” Perkins said. “At the same time, until Salisbury votes to withdraw from the district, we have to prepare our budget like we normally do.”

“We should prepare a five town budget and submit it, and see what happens in March,” he said. “A budget is only a budget. It’s an estimate of what our expenses are going to be for next year. It’s not carved in stone.”

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