Town Meeting

Jay Town Meeting

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Property purchase discussed

by Elizabeth Sargent

JAY—Speaking at the Jay Town Meeting on March 5, Steve Wright, the general manager at Jay Peak Resort said last year was very successful.  The area hosted 55 weddings and expects more this summer.

Mr. Wright told of two events that will take place this year.  The first, in April, is the Rasputitsa bicycle race, the other a Harley Davidson event in July which 700 people are expected to attend. Ontario week is sold out, he said, and the Eclipse Event in April has 900 rooms sold.

Jay Peak has lost revenue because it has had  to use rental units for employees.  The area charges employees two dollars an hour for childcare that costs the area $40, another expense.  Jay officials are checking into using the Inglenook now that Jay Peak owns it.  It could house between 100 and 150 employees.

Plans call for replacing the Bonaventure quad lift next summer.

A resident asked about the boiler project. Mr. Wright said the area installed a system that changes from propane to electric depending on which energy source is less expensive.  He said  the soccer field earns $100,000 a year dependent on the weather.

Mr. Wright said Jay Peak wants to recognize people in communities around the area and Northeast communities who enhance our lives and communities.  He asked people to go to jaypeakresort.com/onetown to submit a name for recognition.  Those selected will receive dinner and lodging on April 26.

State Representative Mark Higley of Lowell said a 20 percent increase on education property taxes is due to school meals, health care, staffing, inflation, etc.  A new budget is being drafted to decrease taxes.  It remains to be approved.  He stated school tax reform is very complicated.

A resident asked about property tax and why people aged from 62 to 65 are not exempt from paying taxes.  Mark stated there is a bill out there that is being worked on.

He said there are 14,000 backlogged cases in the courts because of a lack of judges and staff.

Voters approved the $388,326 select board budget.

Some expressed concern over the highway fund.  Select board chair Dave Sanders explained that Starr’s Gravel Pit was overtaken by water and cannot be used.  Trucks trips to Calkins take three times as long as a trip to Starr’s.  Gas, wage increases, replacing trucks every 10 years, etc.  also contributes to the increase.  Voters approved the $447,722 highway budget as well as the $321,029 equipment and garage budget.

The town contributed $82,175 to the Jay Fire Department.  An amount equal to 2.75 percent of the Grand List, or in dollar terms, $149,219, was approved to get service from Newport Ambulance.

The select board hopes to negotiate a new basis for the ambulance payment, as North Troy had more calls than Jay, but pays less because it has less property value.  Maintenance expenses for the Land Trust of $5,000 was approved.  The voters also approved 24 requests for appropriations to social service agencies.

The town approved a budget of $2,145,310 for the Jay-Westfield Elementary School.  Jay’s portion of that comes to $1,144,646.  Troy’s ballots were comingled with Westfield’s. The vote was 27 yes and 3 no for the Town of Jay.  Westfield voters also approved the school’s budget.

Mr. Sanders spoke about property owned by the Jay Peak Receivership.  It contains 194 acres, about 24 acres of which are developable.  Lindsey Wight from Missisquoi River Basin Association spoke about preserving the wetlands on the property.  The property is surrounded by streams, could create a fire pond for the fire department, enable conservation work, snf have a plant nursery with trees to repair riverbanks.

There is room for housing, including senior housing as well.

Ellen Fox, project manager of the Missisquoi River Basin Association said braided channels could be created on the property to help prevent flooding and improve water quality.  Results of an appraisal of the property will come in March.   The VAST and Catamount trails also run through the property.

Lynnette Deaette mentioned that the town’s former lawyer is not longer available.  The select board is researching this as it needs to collect $57,000 in uncollected taxes.

Someone from Green Up Day wants to break a Guinness Book world record for the number of volunteers for Green Up.  Green Up Day is on May 4.  Volunteers’ signatures are needed.

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