Stop Spending Money We Don’t HaveTo the Editor: The city of Montpelier needs to start using some common sense with the city’s spending. In the Oct. 4–17 edition of The Bridge, the city manager is explaining the financial challenges that the city faces post July flood. Then in the Dec. 6–19 issue of The Bridge, the city is talking about spending $44 million on a new recreation center, plus (The Bridge reported on) the possibility of the school property tax increasing by 19.4% next year. We can’t and shouldn’t be spending what we don’t have. We need to:
- Be done with parks or walking paths that we really don’t need.
- Cap school spending, especially for senior residents. Montpelier doesn’t have the property tax base to support any more increases, especially after just going through a reassessment this past year. It might be time to consider merging with U-32.
- Cancel the new recreation center idea. Most Montpelier residents will not be able to afford to use it, especially if we have to pay to use the center in addition to paying for it in the property tax bill (that’s double dipping).
- Consider selling the Elk’s Club property and use the money for more important and needed projects or make up the deficit caused by the flood.
- Have all nonprofits listed in Montpelier start paying their portion of property taxes. Nobody is paying through the PILOT program, but these organizations all benefit from the services that all other property taxpayers must pay for. If we are all in this together, then it’s time for the nonprofits to support their community by paying property taxes.
Worcester Range Plan Needs AmendingTo the Editor: The Agency of Natural Resources plan for managing 18,772 acres of the Worcester Range state lands needs amending before it’s approved. The management plan currently ignores Vermont law Act 59 and guidance from ANR’s previous findings in Vermont Conservation Design for developing minimum-size forest blocks to maintain or restore old forests. “Vegetation management” is one of the dominant uses of land assigned to the plan’s General Management Areas. This area in the lower elevations in Middlesex and Worcester makes one large contiguous block of 3,431.4 acres. Forty percent of this block’s total acreage, 1,370 acres are to be logged. Act 59 includes the goal of “prioritizing ecological reserve areas to protect highest priority natural communities and maintain or restore old forests.” Vermont Conservation Design recommends a minimum of 4,000 acres to be managed for old-growth forest. On the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Public Scoping Survey for the plan, 85% of respondents placed the highest value on resource protection, compared to 49% who listed sustainable forestry first. This is not an issue about environmentalists versus foresters and management, nor is it a political issue. The ecosystem needs both wild lands and working forests. Vermont currently has less than 1% old forests. With current land classifications (such as National Forest Wilderness Areas), it would take us another century to get to 3%, the Vermont Conservation Design calls for at least 9% old forests. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources should embrace the enormity of its decisions. The Worcester Range Long Range Management Plan should be amended and updated to acknowledge the uniqueness of the area, align with current scientific thinking, and comply with Act 59. Failing to do so is an act of omission. ANR is accepting public comments until Feb. 2. Bodo Carey, Worcester
Letters to the editor represent the opinions of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of The Bridge. Submit your letter by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Preference is given to submissions by those who live in central Vermont, should not exceed 300 words in length, and may be edited for brevity and accuracy.