Letter, Opinion

Board minutes lack transparency

Dear Editor,

I have attended and spoken at two recent Killington Select Board meetings, the public TIF hearing of Jan. 4 and the next meeting of Jan. 10. After attending both, I must begin to question whether the people of Killington are being provided a complete and accurate representation of discussions, questions and answers.

At the Jan. 4 meeting, the question was asked whether the Valley Wells along Route 4 were the sole source of water available for SP Land’s village development. Our town manager responded yes, at which time it was pointed out that another source of water had been permitted under Act 250, the Snowdon Wells. Based on their reactions, this apparently came as a surprise to two of the Select Board members as well as the town manager. Steve Selbo of SP Land then acknowledged that those wells were, in fact, permitted but that if they were used “the numbers wouldn’t work.” Whether they work or not is not the issue, rather the issue is whether the Select Board knew this (apparently not) and whether they have verified the financial information (obviously impossible if they were unaware in the first place). This of course begs the question whether they have taken the time to verify other financial claims made by SP Land. You would think such a point would be noted in the meeting minutes but, somehow, this was omitted from the official record.

Another point of discussion was the potential risk being taken on by the town via TIF funding. The Select Board’s position was that specific risks could not be known until a development contract is on the table, at which time the risks could be evaluated and mitigated. This is disingenuous, to say the least, as there are general risks that can be identified now and, in fact, the presenter from White & Burke identified one as being the potential bankruptcy of a developer after TIF bonds are issued by the town. She went on to say that the town would have to become entrepreneurial (i.e. take on risk) and it would be up to the town and its counsel to find ways to mitigate identified risks. Again, you would think that such a “revelation” would appear in the minutes.

Finally, at the conclusion of the discussion, the White & Burke presenter suggested that if residents had other questions, people were encouraged to submit them and they would be included in a list of FAQs on the town’s website. Not including this in the minutes is hardly “encouraging” questions, don’t you think?

At the Jan. 10 meeting, as the Select Board was moving to approve the Jan. 4 minutes, I pointed out the omission of the first two of the three above points and was told that minutes are not “he said/she said” reviews of a discussion. This is a valid point for sure, but the omission of key information, at a minimum, is suspect. These points should have been included in the minutes but the Select Board approved the minutes without them.

When an error of omission occurs, one that can easily be corrected, it should be. When it is not, the error of omission becomes an error of commission and appears to be intentionally deceptive or at least intentionally leaves the record incomplete. One is forced to ask what else has been left off the official record from past meetings and what else have we as Killington residents been missing?

Art Malatzky, Killington

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