Letter, Opinion

Town meetings aren’t what they used to be

Dear Editor,
Much has changed as I attended the town and school informational meetings for my 47th year as a resident of Killington. In the olden days years ago hundreds of residents took the day off to review the reports and future of our town. I can remember Oren Bates who owned a lot of property and sold it off piecemeal to a lot of new residents and how he got up at meetings to give his views on things in Montpelier and Killington. He was a statesman and a gentleman. There was a guy named Bob Collins who also got up to talk about procedure. Other wise men like Charie Wise, Ken Keim and Red Glaze were also there to “move the question.” The mountain had its issues regarding the sewer and its development. In the beginning the sewer was voted down for the town so that the mountain could do its own thing away from the Killington Road businesses. In a way the mountain was in competition with the businesses.
The meetings were a lot of fun with a great lunch and lots of conversation. Meetings lasted most the day as we talked issues, personal views, line by line discussions about the town report and then afterwards we would go to some restaurant because we did not want the day to end. If I am correct, Bates gave the town the land for the firehouse and the elementary school.
Something changed! The executive who started Killington Rsort made a lot of money on their Sherburne Corporation stock and eventually moved to New Hampshire to avoid paying taxes to the Kunin administration. They set up executive offices in West Lebanon, moved their residence to New Hampshire, moved the purchasing department and accounting, and much more. Then Les Otten, who was a painter of lift towers at Killington, moved to Maine and purchased Sunday River from Killington. He eventually bought and Sugarbush and Killington Resort.
Getting back to my original point about this matter and the meeting and the voting. The meeting on March 6 was a joke. The report asked for a moderator. Our moderator, M.B. Neisner who had been our moderator for years was in the audience but was not asked by the Select Board for a vote nor did anyone propose a moderator. The Chair of our Select Board mader herself the moderator and asked a wonderful Killington executive to do a presentation about the 1% sales tax option that was put before the voters so that took care of the first hour. The decision to recind this tax was approved by the voters by nine votes using the Australian ballot. Some 100 people were at the information meeting but over 400 votes were cast. Then our Select Board Chair bgan her lecture that lasted well over one hour and by 9:15 p.m. I left and she was still talking. Most of the citizens were tired of listening to her and would leave. Her powerpoint was hardly visable and her points of view were nothing like in the past but she went on and on. After her lecture, she stated that what she was talking about was only her opinion and not the opinion of the Select Board.
After producing a 104-page Town Report, there were no questions about the budget. We did not have a chance to talk about pay increases, heathcare cost increases, line item issues, road issues, tax anticipation issues and not a single question about the Green Mountain National Gol Course which the Town owns,capital expenditures at the golf course, new golf cart needs, irrigation needs, and clubhouse issues and needs. Nothing was really asked at this meeting. Not a single question was asked about why the golf course had to borrow $390,000 from the Town as of 1/31/2017. Not a single question about how this money will be paid back to the Town since it did not pay it back for last year in 2016. Not a single question about the cost to the towna bout interest on the loan. Not a single question about other golf course debt and how it will pay back its current debt of $2.9 million when the present net operation income for 2017 is only $91,400. It might be noted that the Town of Killington has been paying the Golf Course debt for ten years and it will continue for at least another eight or so years. Not a single question about golf course revenues which were down $20,466 in 2016. Not a single question about membership revenues that were down $8,535 in 2016 from the budget. And, not a single question about restaurant revenues which were down $15,970 from budget in 2016. We were told throughout the entire summer that business was as good as 2015 but this is certainly not the case.
This informational meeting was a whitewash. It was like Donald Trump trying to tell the merican people that he knows how to fix things.
And finally, why was it that our new Town Manager did not say a word to the citizens? She sat in the audience.
Edwin J. Fowler,

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