Archive for March 19th, 2013

Villagers Approve Budget and “Snow Dump” Land Buy

The Annual Woodstock Village Meeting has just ended with some 62 Woodstock residents in attendance, approving a $1.3M dollar budget, of which $629,000 is to be raised in taxes.

In answer to the simple, but important question asked by John Mathews, “Why are our taxes going up?”, Trustees and Municipal Manager Phil Swanson attributed the increase to losses in revenue, including those from parking fines and traffic tickets. “But, we are friendlier…” was the answer from Trustees who justified those “losses” to making a more welcoming Village.

By paper ballot voting, Villagers approved 41-21 the use of monies from three funds totalling $70K to buy approximately two acres of land from the Woodstock Resort Corporation. The land, which sits just beyond the Woodstock Recycling area across from the old EastEnder Restaurant, is only to be used for a new snow dumping site and must adhere to anti-pollution restrictions. A proposed engineering plan for a snow containment area (similiar to mine tailings disposal system) will cost the Village at least $200K plus approximately $6K to $7K a year for testing and other site maintenance.

Trustees and others from Sustainable Woodstock said the expenditure is important for reasons of mitigating pollution into the Ottauquechee River and for making a broader area of land parcels near the current snow dump more attractive for sale.

Detractors of the project questioned the expenses going forward for a new snow dump and pointed to the fact that Woodstock Village is not in violation of any environmental standards due to using the current site as a dumping area.

L.D. Sutherland, Jr., who owns adjacent property to the current snow dump parcel, a small sliver of land over a bank from what is known as “The Jungle,” stood to say that while he hated the look of the dump, he was against using parking fund monies for the purchase of the Woodstock Corporation land.  The 70K approved by Village residents  is to come from “parking” funds that Trustees say they would like to “zero out.”

However, Sutherland pointed out that the Frost Mills parking area off of Pleasant Street is currently for sale so that if, or when, it sells, the Village will lose one of its major parking areas. He says the funds being taken for a new snow dump purchase will drain a fund set up specifically to deal with future parking issues.

There was some “back and forth” discussion about whether potential developers cared one way or the other about the disposition of the current snow dump parcel when, in fact, there have been more serious ground pollution issues needing to be addressed on adjacent privately held parcels.

Other than questioning by residents about increases Village police costs, the snow dump article was the only topic of extended discussion.  There were also questions about recovery of delinquent parking ticket monies which Municipal Manager Phil Swanson said are hard to recover.

In addition, Sherry Belisle asked that Trustees consider raising revenue for the Village in the future by imposing some sort of  rooms and meals or sales tax of one percent, which she believes would not detract people from visiting Woodstock.

We may have other additions to this report as they occur to us…for now, those are the thumbnail headlines.

P.S. Your new Village Trustees are Trish Compton for a three year term and Emo Chynoweth for a two-year term filling the vacancy left by Bob Pear, who ended his term. Both elected candidates ran unopposed.