What do we get for our taxes asks a QLLA member. I reply.

I got into an email dialog with a fellow member this week about taxes, and here is that dialog:

Is Quechee Lakes taxed differently from the rest of town?

No. All properties in Hartford are taxed the same way.

If so, does it apply to all of Quechee or just QLLA properties? What’s the differential? Are Quechee and/or QLLA residents treated differently in any way when it comes to Town of Hartford taxes?

No. There is no distinction when it comes to QLLA properties.

Are taxes really higher for second homeowners or some other non-resident or non-voter status? If so, what’s the distinction and what’s the differential?

School district and town are two different governments.

Town taxes are identical for all properties, 78.73 cents per hundred of assessed value, or $787.30 per $100,000

School taxes are not levied by the school district. They are levied by the State of Vermont and collected by the town. The state distinguishes between residential properties (primary residence and up to two acres of land) and non-residential properties (everything else). The legislature sets two base rates, respectively, the homestead rate (94 cents per hundred) and the non-residential rate (99 cents per hundred). To these base rates the state applies an algorithm that takes into account the local school district per-pupil spending and the “common level of appraisal,” which is to say how close to market the town’s Grand List is (to prevent towns from gaming the system by having artificially low or incorrectly high assessed values). After applying the formula to Hartford, the rates are $1.38 for residential property and $1.45 for non-residential property, or 7 cents difference, $70 per hundred thousand of assessed value.

Altogether, residential properties are paying $2.16 this year, up 5% from last year’s $2.06; for non-residents it is $2.24 up from last year’s $2.18. Percentage wise, the non-resident properties are up less this year, under 4%.

Folks are really concerned at the property tax level here in Quechee and most don’t put any demand on schools.

It is long settled in this country that public education benefits everyone, not just parents of children in school. I don’t understand why people say this instead of taking strong satisfaction in being successful enough to be able to contribute toward the education of children in more than one location in this country.

In many cases, it’s the largest cost of living here. We don’t have municipal trash pick-up.

No, but curbside recycling is free and the town has spent a considerable amount of money upgrading the roads in Quechee and putting them on a proper maintenance cycle, something that wasn’t true 20 years ago when we were more ignored than not.

I was at the Club a couple of months ago and the fire alarm went off. It took ~30 minutes to get a crew and apparatus here. Some longtime members joked “they save a lot of foundations in Quechee”.

I will check with Chief Locke about this incident. I doubt the story is that simple or the time that long, but I’ll check and find out what his records say. {Note:actually 13 minutes from the time of the call to equipment on the scene}

Water is billed separately at seemingly high rates.

Well, we have a water and waste-water infrastructure that is first class and will serve us wonderfully for a generation or two — and support Section 5b if it ever comes to pass (with some additional build out of course). Not only that, but our town staff managed to get a few million in grants so the operation did not actually have to pay 100 cents on the dollar for the capital equipment in place. The philosophy behind the billing is that every user has to pay the full cost of being prepared to get all the water they might need at any time, and then the incremental cost of the delivered unit is relatively inexpensive. This means people who hardly use their water get bills that seem unreasonable because they use such a small amount of water. But that doesn’t mean the philosophy behind the billing is wrong or unfair. If you have a second home and you hardly use it, one of the expenses you have in the Quechee Water and Quechee Waste Water systems is paying for it to be ready for you to start using in full at any given moment.

What are we getting for our tax dollar?


How did the bridge financing ever come out? As I recall, there was a bond issue based on some professional estimates only to find bids far exceeded the bond issue. Do I recall that correctly?

No, not at all. The bids came in about $200,000 over the 2.1 million budgeted. We selected a contractor, negotiated with the architectural firm and got them to reduce their fee $100,000, took about $50,000 out of the project on things like the guard rails (plain steel instead of wood over steel cables), the lighting system, etc., and used $50,000 out of our $1.7 million undesignated fund balance. We wound up getting additional funding from FEMA on top of the 40% the Federal Highway Administration was in for. When we tore up the old bridge we discovered significant corrosion in the old steel girders that would have doomed the bridge within 5 years (it was already 10 years past its 70 year service life), so in the ordinary course of events the bridge would have cost the town the full 2.3 million. Because of Irene, it only cost local taxpayers 1.2 million, of which 1.150 million is in the form of a 20 year bond. While unfortunate the bids came in high to begin with, at the end of the day the actual incremental cost was tiny.

If so, that feels like some major mismanagement by someone. How did the differential play into our taxes?

It didn’t because the differential was paid for out of prior year surpluses retained for these kinds of emergencies. The town is very well managed (although some have problems with the town manager’s style).

What can be done to get our taxes and water rates down?

As a result of the 5 year reassessment completed this past spring, QLLA residents will pay about $500,000 less in town and school taxes combined for FY 2014 (July 1 2013 – June 30 2014). Absent this hit to the town revenue, the town tax rate would only have gone up 2.1%. Virtually every QLLA property went down more than 5% (yes, a few didn’t, mainly those with significant upgrades since 2007), and so QLLA owners should see several hundred dollars off their tax bill and some will see as much as $2500, perhaps more. In effect, QLLA will collectively save a half-million a year every year for at least the next 5 years — a sum that nicely matches up with what Irene cost QLLA. So in one sense there is a very big reduction in place.

Bigger picture, Vermont is a very small state both geographically and in terms of population. The tax base is small. The biggest costs in the schools are for teacher salaries, which in Vermont are laughable compared to what teachers in private schools or big suburban public schools are paid. If you love Vermont and want to own a place here, you are going to pay more in taxes than in most places, particularly if you are successful. You are also going to spend more on your cars (because they wear out faster on the mix of paved and unpaved roads, and winter conditions), more on your heating, more for food and other stuff (because we are relatively remote and off the beaten track). Vermont tends to be poor because it’s expensive to be here in countless ways, most of them small and under-appreciated by those of us who are successful and have resources.

All that said, the town of Hartford, of which Quechee is just a neighborhood, has some big advantages over its neighboring towns, namely, it has a terrific infrastructure in Wilder, White River Junction and Quechee and can easily absorb more people. Hartford is investing in its public infrastructure, notably the recreational facilities, in an effort to stay competitive for families drawn to the good jobs at Dartmouth (we have a couple of thousand younger residents who fit this bill already). QLLA could jump on this bandwagon by adopting the simpler and more comprehensive long-term renter program I have submitted in each of the past three years. We could have active users in our unsalable properties — who would pay the water bills and consider them a good deal, who would provide income to offset the fixed expenses of the owners, and who would fill our amenities and F&B operations with plenty of new friends we haven’t met yet, excited at the prospect of participating in an intentional community devoted to recreation in beautiful Vermont.


Town Goals

Here it is, the Selectboard has for the first time in recent memory articulated the Goals for the town, along with priorities to advance those goals.

TOH Selectboard Priorities and Goals 2013

Traffic Enforcement on Rt 4

I’ve asked the town manager if we can put patrols on Route 4 and make the stretch from I-89 to Taftsville have the same reputation for speed enforcement that Woodstock has.

Although I think we need a lot of different solutions to the problems of Rt 4, just getting drivers worried about getting a ticket will help moderate speeds and minimize driver distraction.

I’ve learned that the town can adopt an ordinance that will let us collect the ticket fines for infraction on state highways. I’ll be pushing for this in the coming months.

Bonding Strategy for the Municipal Building Renovation

If you’ve been to or watched our recent public hearings, you would hear me talking about how the bonding would likely go out in two tranches, and that voting on the two bonds now was necessary even though we wouldn’t be borrowing all the money in FY2014 (which ends June 30, 2014).

The bonding strategy is driven by three facts:

1. The Vermont bond bank issues bonds once a year. Municipalities have
to commit by May, and get the money in August.

2. If we were to bond now we would need to take out the full 4.9
million for the Municipal Buildings; if we bond next year we only need to bond exactly the amount
we need, which may well be less. When you combine having to pay a
year’s interest on money you aren’t using, and 20 years interest on
money you might not need to borrow, interest rates would have to jump
5 or 6 percent to justify rushing ahead now.

3. The town has never, never spent any money really getting firm
numbers on this project. Yes, David Laurin has done some sketches and
we’ve gotten some estimates, but that is nothing like (a) doing a
detailed programming document describing all the requirements for the
renovation (b) presenting that for competitive bidding by qualified
architectural firms in order to (c) discover the most satisfactory
combination of design and cost for the town. The “politics” of the
situation is that we did not want to just say, what the hell, let’s
just give David Laurin a design/build contract and get ‘er done. We
wanted a more formal process, and that is what we have now. Where the
architect is from has nothing to do with it.

You can’t “use the excess to start retiring the bond” — these bonds
are not like mortgages, redeemable early by paying more faster. The VT
bond bank aggregates bonding needs from many municipalities and puts
it into one or more larger bonds. The town doesn’t control the terms
of the bonds. In return for giving up that control we save a lot of
administrative cost and we get much better interest rates, but we
can’t pay things down in advance.

As for the explanation of why we aren’t going to jump into a
design/build, I suppose that I could add something to that, so here
goes. As a citizen watching stuff happen in town I was often
dissatisfied with the way projects like the municipal building were
approached. In particular, I didn’t think much of the way the
Selectboard put the renovation on the ballot the first time around,
without any good answers about alternatives such as moving to a
different building or building new. I didn’t think the Selectboard was
approaching the problem the right way in the spring of 2011, when the
idea that had support was to throw down a slab in front of the
existing building, put up a two story steel building fast and
inexpensively, and then tear down the old building. These were
motivations for running for the Selectboard — that I could help get a
better process, help make a better case, help deliver a better

Municipal Building delay? No!

The Valley News article “Looking forward to a renovated Municipal Building? Give it a couple more years” misrepresents what happened last night. Our board voted unanimously to begin the building renovation process immediately, exactly as it was presented to the voters at the public information sessions. Work on selecting a design and an architect begins this evening, when the Municpal Building Advisory Committee (MBAC) will be meeting at 5:30 PM in the town hall, if you wish to attend.
Independent of that timetable, we decided to float the bond for the renovation in May of 2014 instead of 2013 because we believe doing so will save us money. This discussion was accurately captured in the Valley News article. Floating a bond this May, knowing we won’t need a dime of that money for at least half a year, will cost us in excess of $100,000 in interest payments while the money sits unused in the town’s bank account. If we had reason to believe that bond interest rates were about to rise dramatically, that $100K might be seen as cheap insurance. But since we have no indication that bond rates are about to escalate significantly, we believe the taxpayers will save significant money by floating the bond next May instead of this May.
Meanwhile, the process for renovating the building has not been delayed at all, despite what a headline-writer at the Valley News seems to suggest.

Budget Presentations for FY 2014

Here is the town’s presentation from Budget & Candidates Night

TOH Budget Presentation FY2014

Municipal Building Renovation Bond

Here’s the flyer being distributed 2013 Bond Vote Flyer

Here’s the presentation from Information Night MBAC Presentation 

Why don’t we get a tax cut when a bond expires?

I received an email the other day with an important question:

“With the several bond warnings being placed before the public this budget season, I am graciously asking for an explanation of why our present use of acquiring bond money never retires. In other words, why do the voters approve a bond (which is essentially a mortgage) for a certain term but the money which was taken by a vote is never returned to the voting public. The voters allow the town to use their money for a certain project which raises the tax rate by a certain amount of cents per / 100 dollars. Why is that money never returned in the form of a tax cut when the bond expires?”

Here’s my reply:

I will take a crack at this.

Let’s say the town’s expenses are 10 million a year. Part of the 10 million includes $100,000 in repayments of principal and interest on two bonds. The next year, the town’s expenses are 10.1 million. The $100,000 increase is due to a combination of factors — wages, benefits, fuel, electricity all are more expensive. But part of the 10.1 million includes $100,000 in repayments of principal and interest on two bonds.

The year after that, the town’s expenses are 10.15 million. The $50,000 increase is due to a combination of factors — wages, benefits, fuel, electricity all are more expensive. But part of the 10.15 million includes $50,000 in repayments of principal and interest on one bond. The other bond that used to be costing the other $50,000 is all paid off.

Notice that while expenses went up $100,000 for some reasons — wages, benefits, fuel, electricity all are more expensive — other expenses went down $50,000. So the increase in spending is not as much as it might have been.

You might say this is “the town giving back the bond money to the taxpayer.” But it’s more accurate to say “total expenses for running the town can generally be expected to increase slightly from year to year unless the town cuts back on services.” Over time this means that when bonds are paid off the amount of taxes that have to be raised are higher than they were when the bond was approved. So it seems like the town “never gives the money back.” But if you looked really closely at the budgets, you would see that it did, and taxes, while going up, were not going up as much as they might have.

Offsetting the increase in expenses should be an increase in property values as population increases and more housing and businesses come to town. If property values decline, then the burden is shared with a smaller pool and everyone in it has to pay more.

Indeed, our general spending in next year’s budget is only about $35,000 more than the current year — less than 1%, in fact, 0.27%. But because the property values are expected to decrease by 3%, the tax rate will increase by 4 cents, from 72 cents to 76 cents, and yes, that is over 5%. Another factor is that we are getting less money from the state and federal government next year. That means we have to collect about $110,000 more in property taxes than last year, about a 1% increase.

Or you could combine our general spending with our spending on business activities like the water and sewer systems and say total spending is down $83,000. Yes, this year’s total town budget is $83,000 lower than last year. That’s -0.44% from last year.

You’ll be happy to know that we cut taxes 31,050 last year. Dig out your copy of the town report and look in General Fund expenses section 912, Bond Redemption. You will see that the budget for the year ending June 30, 2012 included a $30,000 principal payment on the 1991 Water Tower Bond (remember that?). Another line in that section shows a $1,050 interest payment on that bond.

So, the question is, what happened to that $31,050 expense in the next budget? Was it included? Did it go toward taxes?


That line item is ZERO DOLLARS in the budget for the year ending June 30, 2013 — the current tax year. So, compared to last year, the town “charged” $31,050 less in taxes.

Isn’t that what you want us to do? Hmmm….well, maybe what you want is for us to start giving the money back. Is that what you mean when you say you (meaning the taxpayers) “loaned” us (meaning the town) the money? Is that what you mean? I am going to assume that is what you mean. That you consider taxes to pay for a bond a loan, and that money has to be returned to the taxpayer when it is done.

So, let’s see, now instead of $0 in the budget I have to put $31,050 in the budget as revenue so that the taxpayers “get the money back.” And I have to do this for 20 years. Where can I get that money? Obviously I can’t charge the taxpayers, that would defeat the purpose. I have to sell something. How about the Water Tower? Maybe I would get $200,000 for it and whoever bought it would then start billing the town for using it. Hmm, that’s no good, 200,000 won’t last more than 6 years and I have to pay for 20. Plus I’ll be getting a bill for $15,000 a year or more, no doubt about that. So in 7 years I’d be worse off. No tower, a bill that lasts forever. Taxes would have to go up.

So, no, “we” are not going to “return” the money “you” “loaned” us for the Water Tower.

Instead, we are going to provide a good quality water service using the Water Tower you purchased via a 20 year mortgage. Because the town owns the water tower, our annual expense will now be lower for a long time. This purchase by the taxpayers was one of many capital improvements paid for by bonds. Bonds are loans from banks to the town to pay for things the taxpayers want to buy.

Again, please, understand, you didn’t “loan” the town money. You, as part of the town, bought something using loaned money. Then you paid off the loan through your taxes.

You might say “After the bond has matured a tax cut of .04/100 dollars need to be show up on the next municipal or school tax rate on the rate payers bill.”

My answer is that it does. You stopped having to pay for the Water Tower this year. Your town tax rate totaled .743879 instead of .746142, saving you .002263

The reason the tax rate never seems to go down is because costs keep rising, not because we keep charging you for bonds after they are paid off.

And I stress “seems” — Here are some facts for you:

Note that after the revaluation in 1999 the tax rate went down considerably because the grand list went up considerably. The same thing happened in 2008 after the 2007 revaluation went into effect. But — and this is important — the tax rate went down in 2001 by 2 cents; by .004 cents in 2003; by .0037 cents in 2012.

Fiscal Yr Tax Rate Pct Chg Amt Chg
2000  $ 0.906 -24.56% -0.2950
2001  $ 0.886 -2.21% -0.0200
2002  $ 0.907 2.37% 0.0210
2003  $ 0.903 -0.44% -0.0040
2004  $ 0.920 1.88% 0.0170
2005  $ 0.920 0.00% 0.0000
2006  $ 0.934 1.49% 0.0137
2007  $ 0.992 6.28% 0.0586
2008  $0.6459 -34.91% -0.3464
2009  $0.6788 5.09% 0.0329
2010  $0.7054 3.92% 0.0266
2011  $0.7231 2.51% 0.0177
2012  $0.7194 -0.51% -0.0037
2013  $0.7448 3.53% 0.0254
2014  $0.7848 5.37% 0.0400

I am taking the time to point out these facts to you in the hopes that you will feel better about the integrity of those involved in governing our town. You can argue that the Municipal bond is not needed because the building is just fine, and even if it isn’t fine, we should just live with it because that is the cheapest option. You can argue that the joint rec bond is a dumb idea because we’re doing just fine the way things are and even if we’re not that’s just too bad, it isn’t worth the money.  But you cannot accuse us of charging the taxpayers for bonds that are paid off. Bonds boil down to the town buying something over time using borrowed money from banks representing investors. In the simplest terms:

The taxpayers did not loan money to the town.

The taxpayers bought a Water Tower using borrowed money.

Then they paid off the loan over 20 years.



Homesite Form Reminder

Take out your tax bill and look at it and see if you are getting an adjustment from the state. Most Hartford homeowners have a good chunk of their tax bill paid for by the State of Vermont. Those are the “adjustments” listed on your bill — that money actually comes to the town in a check from the State.

So don’t forget to register for this homesite tax relief. You can do it online at: https://secure.vermont.gov/hd/index

It’s really important that all Hartford resident homeowners sign up for this. It is an important way that the town gets back more of the dollars its property owners put into the state education fund.

For a lot of homeowners, the actual amount of money you will need to pay the town next year will be the same as last year. In fact, it would be difficult for the town to cut spending enough for you to see any reduction in what you pay, and it would be even more difficult for the town to raise spending enough for you to see any increase in what you pay. This is probably true for the majority of homeowners in Hartford, so please remind your friends and neighbors to sign up again this year. And please support the Hartford Improvement Bonds. They are a way forward to increasing our tax base and thus spreading taxes among more payers, reducing them for everyone. And, because of the way Vermont property taxes are, in effect, income taxes, even the tax increases to pay for the bonds are not likely to raise the actual amount of money about 60% of Hartford homeowners will need to pony up. It’s a very smart way for Hartford to be less of a “gold town” in terms of paying more into the state education fund than we take out for the schools.


How accurate is our down-to-the-dollar budget?

The selectboard was sent a budget yesterday with a note that the upshot of last Tuesday’s changes was to increase the tax rate. This was followed by a call looking to set up a special board meeting next Tuesday to discuss the warrants, budget and town report.
Since we now have a new window of time, and since we now have new fees for July 1, why not revisit the revenue items and increase the expected revenues based on the new prices? On the whole we should see a 5% increase in service charge revenues, which, on a base of $1.2 million in revenue from such charges should produce $60,000 in new revenues.
Bear in mind that the 1.2 million comes from the audit: service charges for government operations (which excludes any charges for water/wastewater/solid waste/Barwood, which are all accounted for separately). Since the fees we changed were largely for the “government operations” part, and since most were raised 10% to 15%, we should see 5%, because a large amount of the 1.2 million comes from ambulance calls, which are regulated differently and which we didn’t touch. So we can’t expect to see $120,000 in new revenue, but $60,000 — why not? Even conservatively, $30,000, moves the needle. So it is an exercise worth doing.
Secondly, we pad the budget by making worst-case assumptions about things like new hires and what health care they will take on, but given the level of precision we present to the voters — down to the dollar — it behooves us to be more candid among those of us with fiduciary responsibility for the town. I would suggest that a list of town employees listed by number, not name, by department with their type of participation in the health care be used to generate the actual projected premium due, the amount the town will pay, and the amount the employee will pay be set up and that be used to check the numbers provided in the budget.
So those are the two pieces of additional work which, if done, will likely turn up amounts that, on the whole, reduce expenses and increase revenues. The work should be added as new tabs in the budget worksheet so we can see that it was done. In next year’s budgeting process, these backup sheets and others like them can be used to test assumptions and feed the final numbers in the master spreadsheet.

Although it has been said that we expect a 1% to 2% miss on the budget, the audit results show we almost always spend more than we budget for, and take in more than we budget for — largely because (a) we cannot predict what funds will come from federal or state governments (b) what private grants we may get which in turn mean we get more and spend more; also (c) underestimating the rise in the grand list has the effect of raising more property tax revenue than planned (d) overestimating the decline in the grand list has the effect of raising more property tax revenue than planned, but still there is no clear and consistent pattern in the relationship between our Fund 10 budget and our Fund 10 audited results save for the fact that we have routinely piled up surpluses that have been salted away in various funds and then used to offset projects or equipment being added to the budget.

Fiscal Year
all #s are
Fund 10 only
Expense budget audited vs budget Revenue budget audited vs budget Surplus as audited revenues less audited expenses

29.9% 44.2%  $782,764

40.0% 33.2%  -$392,849

-9.0% 0.4%  $730,607

-10.4% 20.9% $2,445,823

4.3% 13.0%  $695,851

3.9% 15.6%  $989,666

23.4% 35.6% $1,098,885

2.9% 28.2% $2,400,163

-0.1% 10.2% $1,102,657

0.7% 3.1%  $259,760

-1.7% 8.1% $1,171,067

-3.1% 20.5% $2,909,813

0.4% 3.5%  $381,808

13.7% 18.7%  $638,291

Data taken from TOH Surplus History

It’s perfectly evident to me that we can afford the positions we cut, and that, in fact, the assistant town manager position, which Selectboard after Selectboard has asked you to budget for, has been affordable all along. It’s also plain to me that the price increases on service charges can’t help but to bring in at least 30K, meaning this budget can afford the energy coordinator.

If we had followed my plan for doing the budget — to set the fees during the autumn, then set a desired property tax levy target and a desired target for use of prior surplus, and then done the expense side of the budget we would have had a cleaner, clearer, less contentious process.

Preliminary Results of the Curbside Recycling Survey

For whatever you might get out of it, here are the survey results as of 5pm. The 350 emails I sent to Hartford folks got 89 responses, the survey I posted on the QLLA list (another 300 participants) got 42 responses. This is today’s result, it’ll be interesting to see how it goes over the course of the next week since I encouraged people to pass it along to friends.
1. Do you take advantage of the free curbside recycling provided by the Town of Hartford?
answered question 89
skipped question
84.3% 75
15.7% 14
2. If your answer was Yes, would you say you use it regularly (at least 1x a month) or only occasionally?
answered question 76
skipped question
97.4% 74
2.6% 2
3. If you don’t participate at all, what best describes what you do?
answered question 22
skipped question
Take the recycling to the town recycling center as necessary
86.4% 19
Throw it out with the trash
13.6% 3
4. Casella/Northeast Waste does the recycling pickup, paid for by the town taxpayers, and also picks up trash for a monthly charge, but some people use other trash haulers or take their trash to the town transfer and recycling station on Route 5 (where recycling is free but there is a charge for trash). How do you handle your trash?
answered question 88
skipped question
Casella / Northeast Waste picks up my trash.
21.6% 19
Another hauler picks up my trash.
33.0% 29
I take my trash to the transfer station myself.
44.3% 39
I take my trash to the Lebanon landfill.
1.1% 1
5. Did you know the town provided recycling pickup at no charge?
answered question 89
skipped question
93.3% 83
6.7% 6
6. It costs the town $150,000 annually to provide no-charge recycling pickup 2x a month for all residential properties in the town of Hartford, which as a whole pays about $30 million in combined school ($20 million) and town (10 million) taxes. Health care premiums for town employees are adding $248,000 to next year’s tax bill, and the recycling program may be cut to make that up. Which alternatives do you support?
answered question 60
skipped question
Kill the recycling program
15.0% 9
Keep it and let taxes go up
63.3% 38
Look into broadening the program into a single no-sort trash and recycling program that might be more expensive but would eliminate separate bills for trash pickup
35.0% 21
Other (please specify)
Show Responses
7. What best describes your household
answered question 88
skipped question
full-time residents
100.0% 88
part-time, seasonal residents 0.0% 0
part-time, weekend residents 0.0% 0
8. Does your household own the residence or are you renting?
answered question 88
skipped question
92.0% 81
8.0% 7
9. Do you have any comments you would like to share with the Selectboard, the governing body of the Town of Hartford, which includes the villages of White River Junction, Wilder, Hartford, West Hartford and Quechee?
answered question 45
skipped question
Hide Responses 45


Please look into other health insurance alternatives for the town of hartford employees. Please make cuts where possible within each village that makes up the town.

1/8/2013 4:47 PMView Responses

Recycling is good for the town, the residents, and the evironment. Please keep it.

1/8/2013 4:04 PMView Responses

I take my trash to the Landfill, curb-side program very convenient but if cancelled I would take recycling to landfill with my trash…

1/8/2013 3:15 PMView Responses

yea make the overpaid teachers pay there own health insurance like the rest of us

1/8/2013 3:13 PMView Responses

Remove the town manager. Mismanagement and cronyism are in part the reason for higher taxes and contrentious meetings.

1/8/2013 3:10 PMView Responses

I live at Woodhaven condos and we have zero-sort recycling, which I understand is more expensive. I can’t imagine what Woodhaven would be like without recycling. However, WE PAY for our recycling pick-up I believe. Please don’t kill the recycling program. It makes it so easy to do the right thing for the planet.

1/8/2013 3:06 PMView Responses

Please help stop the onslaught of horrible zoning and planning decisions being made for Quechee. The recent approvals of development are an absolute disgrace to the fabric of our town and will surely threaten our community as a whole. Its 2013, strip malls are dead.

1/8/2013 2:52 PMView Responses

People will be less willing to recycle if they have to make more effort or pay, so recyclables will end up in landfills – not a direction Vermont should be going in. It is an important program, please do not “kill it”.

1/8/2013 2:26 PMView Responses

Please keep things simple if at all possible.

1/8/2013 2:25 PMView Responses

There is too much being proposed for the next budget. Athletic improvements OR redoing the Municipal Building. By the way, the building is old, structurally weak, on a flood plain, may have some unpleasant surprises when the walls are ripped out, doesn’t have a security system at the entrance(s), etc. We should tear it down and build something practical.

1/8/2013 2:21 PMView Responses

When recycling started I thought we were told that that it would pay for itself??!!

1/8/2013 2:16 PMView Responses

let’s stay green….plus if you have to pay to have recycling picked up why not just pay the $ money in the taxes. Either way we will be forking out $$$

1/8/2013 1:54 PMView Responses

I don’t use curbside recycling because I am able to do it myself as needed, however I feel this is a nice service to provide those who cannot do it themselves.

1/8/2013 1:28 PMView Responses

If we “kill” this program, people will stop recycling will result in landfill shortage and ultimately cost more tax dollars.

1/8/2013 1:21 PMView Responses

I think there should be more education for the residents of Hartford about recycling. We seem to have a very strong recreation program, but not much to teach people about other programs. I’m not sure what would be most effective, but the town web site does not provide a list of what is taken for recycling at the transfer station or what to do with items that are not taken. It makes sense to provide the best information possible. This would be the least expensive method of providing information, though perhaps not the most effective. Then put out a news blast that you’ve updated the recycling page of the town web site with great, new information.

1/8/2013 1:18 PMView Responses

We are sad to see this recycling program stopped – it is a convienence to us to have it. Having the curb site is very handy for us to use – especially our older population.

1/8/2013 1:18 PMView Responses

See above

1/8/2013 1:16 PMView Responses

Since property values in Quechee have declined, does that mean that property values in all the villages of Hartford have declined? If not, why not? Also, what should individual homeowners do to ensure that their current property value is properly assessed?

1/8/2013 1:14 PMView Responses

I appreciate the sensitivity to keep tax increases to a minimum but I also appreciate not being penny wise and dollar foolish. Thanks!

1/8/2013 1:03 PMView Responses

I’d be happy to help evaluate the options for trash/recycling

1/8/2013 1:00 PMView Responses

If yo you do discontinue the recycling I’m sure a lot of what was recycled will end up in the trash. I think town employees should pay a higher percentage of their health insurance to off set the increase in premiums. I have no sympathy for them because although my employer offers a health insurance plan they do not contribute so employees pay 100% of premium.

1/8/2013 12:57 AMView Responses

Please do not end this program. I live in Chambers Park and almost everyone recylies, also people that might not have cars

1/8/2013 12:56 AMView Responses

Having served on the Board for many years in the past, I am sure there are other line items that can be looked at to find needed money.

1/8/2013 12:50 AMView Responses

Thanks for setting up the survey and thanks to the selectboard for all of your work.

1/8/2013 12:41 AMView Responses

We use this program twice a month and find it very helpful in promoting the importance of recycling.

1/8/2013 12:25 AMView Responses

We need to keep a chief of police, we don’t need a public safety director and its additional cost, without a police chief especially with the accounting of expenses and income being as fuzzy as presented at the last selectboard budget meeting with the fire dept. budget being explained.

1/8/2013 12:18 AMView Responses

Maybe there should be more information put out again how easy the curbside recycling is for residents. Not much information has been put out since the program began in the very early 90’s. This would make it more user friendly. What benefits our town gains.

1/8/2013 12:17 AMView Responses

Great idea to have a survey like this – keep up the good work!

1/8/2013 12:10 AMView Responses

I am concerned that if the recycling stops, people will not recycle as much.

1/8/2013 11:55 AMView Responses

As noted above, I am very much in favor of continuing the curbside single sort recycling program. A few years ago the select board tried to eliminate curbside recycling and the public objected. It was put to a separate vote and the community voted to keep the recycling program. I would like us to continue the program and to have single sort curbside and at the transfer station. If you eliminate the program the volume of trash will go up and this is not what we should be doing. Think of the environment and future generations.

1/8/2013 11:41 AMView Responses

Have town and school employees pay a bigger portion of their health care as we, private sector, do.

1/8/2013 11:27 AMView Responses

The Town should continue Curbside recycling — let’s not take any steps backwards; we compete for residents with Hanover & Lebanon.

1/8/2013 11:04 AMView Responses

Still keep taxes low, though, please. We are hurting with these new tax increases already.

1/8/2013 11:04 AMView Responses

I wonder about potential bias in this survey. Who are the respondents? How were emails acquired? Are the people receiving this survey representative of the entire population – especially, the poor, uneducated, elderly – who may be the very populations that do NOT recycle. Perhaps Cassella has some data -or could acquire over the course of a month – on the number of houses that recycle? But, beware – Cassella does not offer curbside recycling for the entire town (despite what the Public Works Dept and Cassella may claim). The Section 8 housing in Sunrise has never had curbside recycling; residents there who wish to recycle take their trash to a location on Sunrise Circle. This is done, ostensibly because the roads are too narrow in the Section 8 development for the recycling truck. You have to wonder, then, if a recycling truck can’t negotiate the roads – can a fire truck?

1/8/2013 11:00 AMView Responses

Thanks for your work and your presentation last night at HHS.

1/8/2013 10:57 AMView Responses

It also bothers me that we are considering cutting basic services like this at the same time that we are being asked to support two separate bond issues totally another 12-13 million. That is kind of like me dropping my newspaper subscription in order to buy a brand new car or take a tropical vacation. If I can’t afford my basic and necessary expenses, should I really be considering these other items? Even if we “need” them, even if interest rates are low???

1/8/2013 10:56 AMView Responses

How did such a generous benefit package get passed for the teachers?

1/8/2013 10:56 AMView Responses

This is one of the most important services the Town provides. It’s been around for at least two decades and has changed the culture of those residents who take advantage of the program. If only half of us use the service, we should create more awareness of its benefits, not ditch the program altogether. $150,000 is a small price to pay for such an important program and eliminating it would be a huge step backwards. Goodness gracious, this is a no-brainer as far as I am concerned.

1/8/2013 10:52 AMView Responses

This is not the area that you need to be looking at for budget cuts.

1/8/2013 10:49 AMView Responses

Discontinuing the recycling program would be a big step back for the town.

1/8/2013 10:46 AMView Responses

Keep up the good work. I read the editorial in the Valley News complaining about the “lack of transparency” regarding the Department of Public Safety idea, where one person would oversee both the police and fire departments. Maybe if the paper did a better job covering the selectboard meetings they would not have been caught off guard by this idea.

1/8/2013 10:45 AMView Responses

I am extremely concerned by the way the town makes decisions for renovations and work done within the town. We should have a bidding process. They way things happen now appears to involve shady dealing.

1/8/2013 10:44 AMView Responses

I fear that eliminating a convenient way to recycle will cause much more material NOT to be recycled. Many folks can’t/won’t go to the recycling center regularly to do this.

1/8/2013 10:39 AMView Responses

The QLLA respondants:
1. Do you take advantage of the free curbside recycling provided by the Town of Hartford?
answered question 42
skipped question
83.3% 35
16.7% 7
2. If your answer was Yes, would you say you use it regularly (at least 1x a month) or only occasionally?
answered question 35
skipped question
91.4% 32
8.6% 3
3. If you don’t participate at all, what best describes what you do?
answered question 10
skipped question
Take the recycling to the town recycling center as necessary
90.0% 9
Throw it out with the trash
10.0% 1
4. Casella/Northeast Waste does the recycling pickup, paid for by the town taxpayers, and also picks up trash for a monthly charge, but some people use other trash haulers or take their trash to the town transfer and recycling station on Route 5 (where recycling is free but there is a charge for trash). How do you handle your trash?
answered question 40
skipped question
Casella / Northeast Waste picks up my trash.
45.0% 18
Another hauler picks up my trash.
12.5% 5
I take my trash to the transfer station myself.
42.5% 17
I take my trash to the Lebanon landfill. 0.0% 0
5. Did you know the town provided recycling pickup at no charge?
answered question 41
skipped question

Tax Relief for the Elderly

Here is my proposal for a tax relief policy for elderly residents of Hartford. Some think the courts would interpret this as a personal exemption not permitted under state law.


Elderly Tax Relief Policy

A. It shall be the policy of the Town of Hartford to defray collection of property taxes from homeowners whose household income makes them eligible for state education property tax adjustment under 32 V.S.A. § 6066 a. 1. C and providing they also meet the section B requirements and obtain the approval of the Town Manager. Such defrayed taxes, plus annual interest charges and administrative fees, shall instead create a first lien on the property as described in 32 V.S.A. § 5061.
B. Qualification and Application
In order to qualify, the homeowner must
  1. reside in a registered housesite as defined by 32 V.S.A. § 6061 11.
  2. have continuously owned taxable residential property in the town for at least 3 years
  3. the sum of the homeowners age at their next birthday plus the years of ownership defined in B.2 is 75 or greater
  4. the assessed value of the property minus all liens upon it is greater than 20 times the amount being defrayed
  5. make application to the town providing such information as the town deems necessary to evaluate the request on a form of the town’s design
  6. Upon receiving the approval of the application, sign and execute such documents as the town deems necessary to secure its ability to collect the defrayed taxes, interest, and fees
C. Program Design
  • The town manager is directed to develop a program which implements this policy. The target effective date will be July 1, 2013.
  • The Selectboard shall be presented with a draft versions of rules for
  1. determining interest rate,
  2. fees,
  3. application form,
  4. legal documents to establish liens, and
  5. opinion letters from the town’s attorney and the Vermont Dept of Taxation approving or acquiescing in the policy implementation details,
  • Draft program materials shall be presented to the Selectboard as soon as possible for discussion and review, but in no case later than March 22, 2013.
D. Implementation
The policy shall become effective upon Selectboard approval of the program package described in section C.