Town Meeting

Jay Town Meeting

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Resort reports good fiscal health

by Elizabeth Sargent

JAY — The Jay Town Meeting started with Dave Sanders telling voters he was unwilling to be a moderator for the meeting.  Janet Butler was elected moderator for the year.

Ms. Butler introduced Steve Wright from Jay Peak.  He said everything is going well this year, the pay rate was raised to $17 per hour so he has been able to hire more staff than last year.

Mr. Wright said Martin Luther King and Presidents Week both set records and that Ontario Week is sold out.  The resort plans to put in new lifts like the Bonnie, Triple and Double over the next two to three years.  In three to five, employee housing and parking needs will be addressed and more snowmaking is in the future.

He said Jay Peak owns 300 condominium units, which the new owners knew before the sale.  Four or five weeks ago ten went on the market for $299,000 to $399,000 for two to five bedroom units.  Jay Peak plans on selling ten to 20 in the next two years, approximately 30 in total to provide extra capital.  The golf course turned a small profit, but it brings in weddings and conferences.

Voters authorized the elimination of the offices of town auditor and lister.  There was discussion on both of these, as people asked where the money would go and why the select board wants to eliminate those services.

The board members said they hired a professional auditor years ago and don’t find it necessary to have spot checks by the local auditors.  Any savings will  go to the reserve fund to offset property taxes.  The same is true for listers as the town has a professional company assessing property already.  Once again savings will go to the reserve fund.

The select board also said there will be a town-wide appraisal soon.  New England Municipal Consultants are doing one quarter of town properties per year.  They will need one part-time person hired hourly to do data entry and filing.

The voters authorized the select board to appoint a collector of delinquent taxes.  There was discussion as to whether the treasurer should be doing this along with her other duties as there is already a tax collector doing the job.

The select board said the treasurer only has to print the information.  It’s not like in the past when the tax collector had to manually figure out the delinquent taxes.  Money collected will also go into the reserve fund.  Board members said they do not want computer software needed for collecting delinquent taxes going out of the office as the current tax collector works from home.  The remaining articles were voted in.

There was discussion over Missisquoi Valley Ambulance Service (MVAS) being replaced by Newport Ambulance.  On March 31 MVAS will stop serving Jay and on April 1 Newport Ambulance will take over.  The service’s new bay will be located in Troy and is being updated and will include sleep quarters so it can be staffed 24 hours a day.

The select board does not want the cost for Newport Ambulance tied to the Grand List as it is with MVAS, they would like it per capita.  Newport will interview MVAS members who want to join it.  For now both ambulances will cover for each other.  MVAS will be given a 60-day notice to vacate the old town garage.  Residents suggested leasing to another group/organization to keep revenue coming in.

Vermont State Representative Mark Higley said reapportionment gave him Mike Marcotte as a partner in his new two-member district.  He spoke of affordable heat and wondered if it will raise oil and gas prices by 70 cents to $4 a gallon.  He said he believes the Governor Phil Scott will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.  He is also considering a voluntary paid family leave plan that provides money for six weeks.

There was discussion on changing the Town Meeting to Australian ballot.  If that path is followed the town will have an informational meeting then vote the next day, but there will be no discussion on Town Meeting Day.

Some residents were thinking such a change would bring in people who have to work during the current Town Meeting.  It was suggested to move it at night, but residents were told that has been tried and fewer people came.  A lot of residents liked the idea of keeping the meeting the same way as they can meet new residents and change articles if needed.  It was decided to keep the Town Meeting as is, in hopes of bringing in more people.

A resident moved that Town Meeting be held again at Jay/Westfield School as it is warmer and there are no fumes from the firetrucks.  The select board will look into this.

Jay voters passed a budget of $1,979,596 for the Jay/Westfield School on an 18-0 vote, which will be co-mingled with ballots from the town of Westfield.

Voters also agreed to have the school board expend $1,159,217, an amount the school board said is necessary for the ensuing fiscal year.

 

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