Local News
March 2, 2015

Killington Selectboard Forum

Killington Selectboard Forum

Executive Summary

 

To educate our members on the upcoming Selectboard election, the KPAA held a candidate forum on Thursday, February 26.  Each candidate was given 10 minutes for an opening statement followed by four questions developed by the KPAA that they were given to each candidate in advance.  Following the four set questions the moderator, Vince Chiarella, took questions from the floor.

Forum Summary

The table below outlines the responses of each candidate’s position on the questions asked.  Questions that could not be summarized with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ have a summary beneath the table.

A complete video of the forum can be viewed online at: http://youtu.be/EBcY3B4TS7o

“How will you work with the business community, the Town employees and the residents to build consensus on a variety of issues and ensure we grow the regional four season economy?  Why are you will suited and qualified for the aspects of the job as Selectmen?”

Jim Haff

Everything I have said has been right. I am against the option tax. I don’t think the town should help stream business revenue. There was a vote presented that Chamber could not do this and let Town handle it. Years later it’s back to the Chamber. Once option tax was pushed through I said the Golf Course was our biggest tourism attraction and we should use money towards that. This organization argued that it should not go towards it. Now everyone agrees it should.  The issue seems to be that there is a grabbing of a certain amount of money that shouldn’t be. The town should supply fire, police, safety, recreation, library, backing the schools and highway. This should make it feasible for businesses to move forward.

 Chris Bianchi

I think I know what it means to work together by listening and compromising and I’m willing to do that.

“The KPAA would like to work with the Town and the Resort to grow the regional economy.  This summer the EDTC voted unanimously to pursue a plan that would repeal the Sales and Use portion of the options tax, and transfer the Marketing and Events responsibility and expense to the KPAA.  The KPAA, with the support of the Resort and our growing membership, would manage the Marketing and Special Events. 

The KPAA would like to continue pursuing this plan in 2015, and will propose that the Town sub-contract all the Marketing and Events activities to the KPAA.  Do you support the KPAA and its interest in managing the marketing and special events for the Town in 2015-2016 and modifying the Options Tax at a future date?”

Jim Haff

The answer would be no. And this is a tricky question. If KPAA wants to work with the Town and Resort to grow regional economy- is Resort not a member of KPAA? Are they not agreeing under this roof? I hope they are working together. The EDTC plans to repeal option tax- this was my idea. I brought this forward. I believe that we should continue to repeal sales option tax side of this and release the $450,000 revenue from the town so the town can find $450,000 worth of expenses that are going towards these functions. Asking me at this time if I want to cut a check to KPAA for 2015/2016 budget to subcontract these things I don’t understand when we have a vote in front of us with specific line items. Either you vote yes or no to budget. KPAA released letter to vote yes, but I think we both want it to fail. I do not support giving a check to the KPAA at this time.

Chris Bianchi

Short answer yes. The suggestion to out contract events came from the discussion I had with our Town Manager. In my second term a group of us got together and identified some key elements to success one of them being visitors looking for a whole destination experience. Three years ago my words were ‘we must work with all the businesses’. The Town cannot just rely on the Resort. We must work together. Any proposed plan for change has to be comprehensive, not rushed and sustainable with input from the community. Golf course debt needs to be considered to alleviate burden. I feel all these goals are being accomplished.

 

“The KPAA supports the Selectboard budget proposal for 2015-16.  Do you support their budget proposal?  Why?

 

Related, over the last year, the Town Events and Marketing Coordinator has worked 30 hours a week for the Town and then served as the KPAA Director for 20 hours a week.  Sharing an employee has been critical to us.  Do you support the continuation of this position at the funding level as outlined in the Town’s budget proposal?”

Jim Haff

Presentation I just gave to you shows the town is in a deficit of $1m. Town depicts rosier picture in town report. This is the same thing we went through seven years ago with the golf course…the golf course is doing great, the golf course is supporting itself.  It took three years of me getting my butt handed to me that I was wrong and now all of a sudden I think it was in the mountain times Patty McGrath stated in that she is amazed that our Golf Course has gone from budget of $5.5 million to $3.4 million it’s because I pushed it.

In 2013 town report salary was budgeted at $30,600 to solely work for the Town of Killington. OnDecember 9, The Mountain Times stated that she was only going to be working 30 hours a week at the Town.  She is still being paid $30,600. She took a 25% reduction in her hourly time – she basically got a raise.  She is still being paid this and will be receiving an annual cola increase. When I was on the board we had to cut Mr. Horner’s hours and I made sure he had health insurance.  I care about employees.  This is not fair to other employees.  I do not support this.

Chris Bianchi

Yes I support it. I helped develop it. We have worked hard in planning for our future and put a lot of effort in developing tools for employees and in the capital plan. It allows insight for future plans and keeps tax rates steady.

Most definitely. One of the ways we compete is by sharing resources and sharing partnerships. The Resort and Town work together in plowing the roads.  Sharing the director has been beneficial for both organizations and is much more efficient.

“Over the last three years the Town and Golf Committee have worked to put the Golf Course on a path to be self-sustaining.  During that period, the Golf Course has paid for its annual operational expenses, capital expenses, and provided $50,000 a year to the general fund to offset debt payments. 

Now that the golf expense seems to be under control, what is your position on supporting new investments like mountain biking and trails to ensure we remain competitive in the summer and fall tourism market?”

Jim Haff

If Golf Course expenses were under control I would support us going forward. Town book has capital plan for golf course and irrigation system.  A capital plan was put together and consultant was brought in saying we would need $2.1 m for new irrigation. At that time the life expectancy was 10 years – there is no money put aside for that.  There’s no way that this golf course is going survive on its own.  In discussions with our auditor he suggested we get rid of the golf course.  We have to face the facts. In the next decade we will need to borrow $1.2m for irrigation. And we have other expenses the Fire Department needs a new firehouse, the rec department needs a new swimming pool – this town is looking at huge expenses.

Chris Bianchi

Full support. If you’ve been to any meetings you can see how I’ve demonstrated my support. We can’t just take care of our current responsibilities we have to stop waiting for our future and work harder towards it.  Administration at the Town has been applying for grants and thinking about our future such as the streetscape study, Killington Road study, mountain bike trails and hiking trails. The USFS land is designated for recreational use and has been untapped. We are a recreational town. Let’s use it!

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