April 22, 2019

Recipe corner

Garden spinach specialties

July 31, 2008
By Ginger Isham

One cup of cooked spinach is high in Vitamin C and A, rich in riboflavin, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins E, B6, and thiamin and contains 40 calories. When steaming or cooking spinach, save the juice, as it is the most potent vegetable juice in prevention of cancer cell formation. It is thought that a daily serving of spinach makes one less likely to develop lung cancer. One pound of fresh spinach will make one cup of cooked spinach.

Many years ago we attended yearly farm meetings at a local inn and were served a spinach appetizer before our main dish. I wished I knew how to make it and years later a friend in my workplace gave me a recipe very similar to this appetizer. I have been asked for the recipe numerous times over the years so will again share it in my column.

Spinach soufflé
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup small-curd cottage cheese
2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 frozen package of chopped spinach; or 1 pound fresh spinach
pinch of salt and pepper
1 package shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
Mix all ingredients in bowl. I sometimes add 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped onion. Pour into an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish, lightly oiled. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. I double recipe and put in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Green garden spinach/pea soup
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup scallions or onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 cups peas
4 teaspoons dried basil or 4 tablespoon fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
16 cups fresh spinach
6 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pinch of black or white pepper

In large kettle, sauté onions and garlic in butter. Add remaining ingredients and cook until spinach is limp. Cool slightly. Process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Heat and serve with crusty bread.

Starved for time

A quick way to serve spinach is by cooking one slice of bacon, cut up, with one small, thinly sliced onion. Add 1/2 pound of fresh spinach, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 pound of spinach and cover and cook for 3 to 8 minutes. Add dash of salt and pepper. Stir and serve.

Ginger Isham was the co-owner of Maple Grove Farm Bed & Breakfast in Williston, a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road where she still lives. She cooked for guests for more than a decade.

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Right to the Point

Pass Jessica's Law before more children suffer

July 31, 2008
By Mike Benevento

Three years ago, previously convicted sex offender John Couey raped and murdered 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford. Couey's crimes upset Floridians so much that they called on their Legislature to pass stricter sex offender laws. Named after Lunsford, Jessica's Law was the centerpiece legislation. Since then, 40 states have passed at least a partial version of Jessica's Law.

Over the last few years, Vermont has deservedly received national attention for being too lenient on sex offenders. Commentator Bill O'Reilly has been one of America's biggest proponents of strict laws against child molesters. On his TV and radio programs, he has taken Vermont to task for not appropriately protecting children. As O'Reilly noted, “In Vermont, there are no mandatory sentencing laws for child rapists.”

Jessica's Law establishes a minimum 25-year sentence for anyone convicted of sexually abusing a young child. It also requires sex offenders on parole to wear a GPS device for police to track their whereabouts. According to the Bennington Banner, Vermont's Legislature has failed to pass Jessica's Law twice in the past.

In early 2007, O'Reilly shared the story of Andrew James, who repeatedly molested a 4-year-old boy in southern Vermont. Despite his crimes, James was not sentenced to jail. He received only probation and treatment as punishment.

Two years ago, Judge Edward Cashman initially sentenced Williston's Mark Hulett to only 60 days in prison for raping a 6-year-old girl for four years. (Derek Kimball of Hinesburg was also charged with sexual assault of the same girl.) As O'Reilly pointed out, “The outcry embarrassed the state of Vermont, but still Jessica's Law was voted down by the Legislature.”

Yet another horrific assault of a child is forcing Vermont to reconsider its sex predator laws.

Earlier this month, 12-year-old Brooke Bennett's body was found in a shallow grave. Her uncle — convicted sex offender Michael Jacques — has been charged with her kidnapping and murder. Because of Jacques' lenient punishment for a previous kidnapping and rape, Brooke's death brought back calls for tougher laws against child sex offenders.

Three weeks ago, Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie told Channel 3 News, “When a person is sexually assaulted, a minor is sexually assaulted, it's my opinion that they should go to jail for 25 years.” He added, “That's very simple and that's what Jessica's Law calls for.”

Agreeing with Dubie, on July 10, Gov. James Douglas said the state should pass stronger laws against sex offenders, including Jessica's Law, civil commitment, strengthening the state's sex offender registry, chemically castrating sex offenders and returning the death penalty to Vermont.

According to Douglas, he reached out to House Speaker Gaye Symington and President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin to request a meeting with them, the minority leaders and the chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to urge them to support a special session to consider his proposals.

However, the Democrats — who control the Legislature — only seem to be interested in investigating what went wrong with the judicial system's handling of Jacques and not passing any new laws. Thus, Douglas is not planning on calling for a special session, as it would not accomplish much.

Douglas spokesman Jason Gibbs said “Sen. Shumlin and Speaker Symington have made it very clear that they oppose an immediate special session for the purposes of strengthening our sex offender laws. It would therefore be unproductive for the governor to call a special session without the support of the legislative leadership.”

Symington said a special session would be used to investigate why current laws “are not being enforced by the Douglas administration,” before the Legislature considers new laws. Symington, a candidate for governor, said if elected she would launch a “thoughtful review” of the state sex offender laws.

In the end, as Bill O'Reilly notes, “Vermont has become a secular progressive enclave — a state that believes in restorative justice, that is healing for the criminal as well as the victim.” So far, the Democratic/Progressive Legislature seemingly cares more for the rights of the offender than the helpless children the molesters   scar for life.

Rehabilitating violent sex offenders is a difficult task. Unless the offender wants rehabilitation, the recidivism rate is very high. Maybe the prospect of a long prison sentence would deter abusers. For most, it would not. However, one thing is certain: Passing Jessica's Law would keep child rapists in jail and out of our communities for at least 25 years.

Vermonters need to do everything possible to prevent sexual abuse against children. Passing Jessica's Law would be a big step in the right direction.

Michael Benevento is a former Air Force fighter jet weapon systems officer. He has a bachelor's degree in Military History and a master's in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin.

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Liberally speaking

Restoring the world's faith in America

July 31, 2008
By Steve Mount

I recently heard on National Public Radio the story of a Billings, Mont. businessman who was in a bind. In his low-unemployment city, he was having a hard time filling an information technology position in his small company.

Driving to work one day, Rob Hunter heard the story of Bahjat, an Iraqi IT specialist who worked with the Americans in his country. Because of his work, Bahjat was targeted by Iraqi insurgents. He applied for and got refugee status, moved his mother and sister with him to Florida, and began looking, in vain, for work.

Hunter contacted Bahjat and offered him the open position. Though unsure why someone from so far away would want to help him, Bahjat eventually accepted the job.

As the family drove a donated car from Florida to Montana, Hunter organized his friends and neighbors to contribute home goods to furnish a small apartment and to ensure that Bahjat and his family would feel welcome when they arrived.

Throughout the world, America is reviled, looked down upon, feared, hated. But in a world where crowds are wont to chant “Death to America!” stories like that of Hunter and Bahjat give me some hope that we can turn this negative perception around.

While hatred of America is nothing new, it is surprising when you look back at where we were in September 2001.

As I'm sure you recall, in the days following the attacks on Washington and New York, we enjoyed an outpouring of support from all corners of the world. The Bush administration, with its arrogant approach to diplomacy, has squandered most of that good will.

We need more Rob Hunters to restore our position in the world.

Locally, we are doing our part. My parents run an employment agency in Burlington, and over the years I've heard many stories of refugees coming here to start over. Be they Vietnamese, Cambodian, Croatian, Bantu, Congolese or Iraqi, desperate to make their own way, they would take any job they could find.

Similar stories dot the pages of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program's online newsletters: Vermonters lending their language skills to newcomers; Vermonters donating gently-used winter gear to Africans seeing snow for the first time; and Vermonters introducing immigrants to the wonders of an American grocery store.

We Americans have big hearts, and it is disheartening when the world reacts only to the negatives.

So it was with some great enthusiasm that I watched Barack Obama visit Europe last week. According to some estimates, the size of the crowd that he addressed in Berlin was even larger than his largest thus far here in the U.S.

Some of the onlookers were spurred by curiosity, to be sure. But I think there is more to it than that. With some exceptions, I think that most of the world wants, desperately, to look up to the United States. It cannot bring itself to do that while Bush is at the helm, and McCain just looks like more of the same.

Obama is bringing ideas to the American people, and, by way of wide media coverage, to the world. Most of them are not new ideas — they are long-held Democratic Party principles — but they seem fresh after eight years of Bush.

But more than restating Democratic Party ideals, more than a return to an America that values conversation, diplomacy and cooperation, Obama is seen as a realization of a classic American ideal, the same ideal that Lincoln's log cabin once evoked.

That's the ideal that anyone, from whatever background, can excel in America. That regardless of our checkered history, even the son of a Kansan and a Kenyan can become our head of state.

Obama is also seeking to restore another classic American ideal — that of John Winthrop's City Upon a Hill. Though Winthrop envisioned an America worthy of almost religious worship, the phrase has evolved to mean an America founded on democratic principles that all nations should aspire to.

Restoring our position of leadership in the world must be a goal of the next president. With people like Barack Obama and Rob Hunter working to that goal, either deliberately or tangentially, we can restore our position, we can be a beacon, we can again be that city upon a hill.

Steve Mount has been a Williston resident since 1996. He is a software engineer at GE Healthcare and is devoted to his family, his country and his Constitution. You can reach Steve at steve@saltyrain.com or read his blog at http://saltyrain.com/ls.

[Read more…]

Salon changes ownership and name

July 31, 2008
Tim Simard
Observer Staff

Observer photo by Tim Simard
Manager and hair stylist Sarah Bove cuts the hair of young customer Ben Berkson on Tuesday at the new Salon Pure at Maple Tree Place.

A new salon has opened its doors in Maple Tree Place in recent weeks, replacing the former Maple Leaf Salon on Connor Way. Salon Pure officially opened on July 14 under the ownership of lifelong Vermonter Christopher Brown.


Brown said Salon Pure is a different kind of salon since it uses hair products that are organic, as well as being “pure and natural.”

“The products we have stick with that philosophy,” Brown said.

Many of the products Salon Pure's hairdressers use are better for their clients and for the environment, Brown said. Much of what is used is also for sale at the salon. Popular lines include Eufora and Thermafuse hair care products.

Observer photo by Tim Simard
Salon Pure owner Christopher Brown stands next to his businesses wares.

The hairdressers and stylists that worked for Maple Leaf Salon now work for Salon Pure, including Hina Malghani, the former salon's owner, Brown said. Salon Pure has also added three new stylists and color experts, Brown said. Other changes include a new computer system and new Web site, www.lookpure.com, currently under construction. Brown said a new sign should replace the Maple Leaf Salon in the near future.

Brown said Salon Pure has a great location in the shopping center and has received a lot of walk-in traffic in its first weeks.

“This will be great for us,” Brown said.

[Read more…]

Harvest Equipment moving to Williston

July 31, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

A new harvest is coming to Harvest Lane in Williston.

Harvest Equipment, a tractor and power equipment dealer with four locations in Vermont, is opening a new location at 64 Harvest Lane at the former spot occupied by the Gardener's Supply Company outlet store. The outlet store moved earlier this month to its new location at the Four Season's Garden Center on Marshall Avenue.

Observer photo by Tim Simard
Doug Seyler, vice president and general manager of Harvest Equipment, stands in front of the company’s new location on Harvest Lane, with equipment ready to be brought inside. The John Deere dealer is moving its Shelburne location to Williston next month and hopes to open by mid-August.

Harvest Equipment will move its Shelburne Road location in Shelburne to Williston sometime in the middle of August, according to Doug Seyler, vice president and general manager of the company. He said the company is currently installing new displays in the store and giving the space a brand new look.

Harvest Equipment has recently signed a new contract with John Deere equipment to make the Williston store a premier retailer in the area for the national company. The closest John Deere exclusive dealer is at Yandow Sales and Service in North Ferrisburgh.

Harvest will now exclusively carry John Deere heavy machinery, as well as retail-oriented products including shirts, hats and toys, Seyler said. He added Harvest would continue to carry Husqvarna power equipment.

“Basically we needed more space than our Shelburne Road store provided,” Seyler said.

The Williston location has 9,600 square feet of space for retail and a repair facility, and Seyler said Harvest Equipment plans to utilize the outside grounds for people to peruse different John Deere machines. Seyler said the company was granted a discretionary permit by Williston's Development Review Board in June to display the equipment near Harvest's parking lot.

Harvest Equipment does have some heavy equipment for rent, but Seyler said it's not the main focus of the company. He said he did expect to get more requests for rentals in Williston now that Hertz Rental Equipment left its Harvest Lane location in recent months.

Harvest Equipment has locations in Newport and Swanton, as well as Montpelier, where the company is constructing a new building for its store. Seyler said having multiple locations has been good for business and he's excited about opening the Williston store soon.

As for having Harvest Equipment on Harvest Lane?

“We couldn't have planned that better,” Seyler said, laughing. “It's a perfect match.”

[Read more…]

Correction/Around Town


Last week’s edition of Police Notes contained an incorrect location for a report of property damage. The damage from an attempted break-in occurred to the shed on the east side of the main beach house at Lake Iroquois.

Around Town

Water rate rises

The town of Williston has boosted the water rate by 4.5 percent while leaving sewer charges unchanged.

Last week, the Selectboard approved a rate of $2.25 per 1,000 gallons for water and $3.10 per 1,000 gallons for sewer. The new water rate, effective Aug. 1, represents a 10-cent increase over the current rate.

The rate hike was needed in order to cover a 6 percent increase in wholesale prices charged by the Champlain Water District, according to Williston Public Works Director Neil Boyden. The district provides water to municipalities throughout Chittenden County.

“This rate increase will be necessary to keep our level of service consistent with current levels,” Boyden wrote in a memo to the Selectboard.

Zoning changes OK'd

The Selectboard has approved the latest batch of zoning changes, part of a comprehensive rewrite of Williston's land-use rules.

The interim rules, which alter regulations while the unified development bylaw is being completed, cover three chapters of the new code. The ordinances include rules governing outdoor lighting, the zoning map and the mixed-use residential district on the eastern edge of Taft Corners.

The board, at its meeting last week, heard a presentation on the interim ordinances from outgoing Town Planner Lee Nellis. The board discussed lighting provisions before adopting the new rules.

The board will consider another round of interim revisions in coming weeks before adopting the new bylaws as a whole.

Live cooking at Williston Farmers' Market

Student chefs from the New England Culinary Institute will be demonstrating their cooking prowess at upcoming Williston Farmers' Markets. On Aug. 2, 9, 16 and 23, the market will host Shop Fresh with NECI Students. Students will be cooking at the market and offering free samples using fresh produce and products. Recipes will be available so customers can purchase the ingredients from the market and recreate them at home.

The students are taking part in a Service Learning Course designed to encourage students to think critically about the world in which they live, explore social issues, get involved in the broader community, and experience new ways to make a positive impact during their professional lives.

[Read more…]

Road work begins on South Road

July 31, 2008
Greg Elias
Observer staff 

Work on South Road in Williston will delay traffic for the next few weeks.

The project involves realigning the intersection with East Hill Road and making drainage improvements. The $80,500 project will be largely funded through a grant administered by the Champlain Water District, with the town contributing about $22,000, said Williston Public Works Director Neil Boyden.

The work will also include replacing a culvert, which will eliminate flooding of a nearby manure pit, Boyden said. Water from the area drains into Allen Brook.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane during the work, which Boyden said will take about a month. Motorists can expect minor delays.
South Road is located off Oak Hill Road, a short distance from U.S. 2 in Williston Village.

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War memorial asks people to

July 31, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff


Along North Williston Road, this simple word has been spelled out with more than 4,100 yellow and purple flags — each planted in the ground to symbolize every soldier who has been killed fighting in the war in Iraq. Located at Pat Brown and Amy Huntington's home, the war memorial has attracted numerous passing motorists to thank the couple for honoring those who have fallen in service to the United States.

Observer photo by Tim Simard
More than 4,100 yellow and purple marker flags spell out the word ‘CARE’ at Pat Brown and Amy Huntington’s North Williston Road home. Each flag represents a soldier who has died fighting in the war in Iraq.

Brown said he's been placing the flags on his property since November 2006 as a way to remember the sacrifices of the war. This summer, he decided to do something different with the memorial. He formed the markers at first into the word “think,” and then “feel” and now “care.” Brown changes the word every couple of weeks, when he has to temporarily remove the flags to mow the grass.

“I did it as a way for people to see, remember and stay informed,” Brown said. “This catches their attention more.”

Brown said it's not uncommon for motorists to stop along the road and thank him for the memorial. He even had a family of four stop at his house one day and offer to help plant the markers one afternoon when Brown was working.

The memorial has been emotionally trying at times for Brown, none more so than the time a man from Underhill stopped at the house to thank Brown for his work and see the site up close.

“He said to me, ‘That flag is my son,'” Brown said. “What do you say to that? It hits you hard.”

Removing the markers for lawn mowing and then replacing them can be a full afternoon project, and he welcomes the help he's received from area residents. Last year, Rep. Jim McCullough, D-Williston called on residents to help with the memorial, which then sparked community dialogue.

Overall, Brown said he has received support and positive feedback for the site. He said he doesn't want the flags to become a divisive topic, but instead wants them to remain a symbol of the bravery of the fighting forces.

“I've not said I'm anti-war and I've not said I'm pro-war, and I won't,” Brown said. “I just want people to think.”

Brown said he will update the number of flags once again this weekend. As of Tuesday, 4,124 soldiers had been killed fighting in Iraq, according to icasualties.org, a Web site that monitors the numbers of soldiers killed in action in Iraq.

[Read more…]

Williston reps hop aboard CCTA

 Expectations low for more bus service

July 31, 2008
By Greg Elias
Observer staff 

Williston was represented for the first time when the Chittenden County Transit Authority's governing board met Wednesday afternoon. But with CCTA coping with a budget crunch due to rising fuel costs, board membership may not bring better bus service to town.

In theory, having two seats on the 14-member Board of Commissioners increases Williston's chances for additional service beyond the one route that serves Taft Corners and Vermont 2A.

New members Jim McCullough and Al Turgeon, however, don't expect to win immediate service improvements. They are well aware of the agency's recent decision to cut service and increase fares.

“Any of us who walk in with all sorts of great ideas will probably find that it's not easy to do anything,” Turgeon said.

Milton is also gaining a pair of board seats, which are given to communities who become members of CCTA and commit to funding service. The town of Williston spent $188,000 for bus service during the last fiscal year.

When they were appointed by the Williston Selectboard this spring, Turgeon and McCullough said they wanted to add another route in Williston. McCullough said service was needed to the town's senior housing developments; Turgeon suggested a line that would have stops along U.S. 2 as well as North Williston and Mountain View roads.

But CCTA's budget has been hit by rising fuel prices. The transit authority announced last week that it was reducing service along two Burlington routes and raising fares for the Middlebury shuttle. More route reductions or fare hikes could be in the offing if the state does not provide additional funding to offset rising fuel prices, said Chris Cole, CCTA's general manager.

Fuel spending is projected to increase 85 percent in fiscal year 2008-09 while unrestricted state funding for the same period rises by just 1 percent, Cole said.

“So you can see there is a rather large gap in the revenue coming in and the expenses going out,” he said. “If the gap doesn't close, we won't have any options.”

After being appointed to the CCTA board in May, both McCullough and Turgeon solicited Williston residents' opinions about public transportation. Unsurprisingly, people wanted more bus service.

McCullough said some seconded his suggestion of improved service for seniors, particular to those living in Williston Woods on the northeast side of town. He's also heard that the existing bus would be more attractive if it didn't take riders so long to reach their destinations.

The Williston route forces riders to transfer at the University Mall in South Burlington to reach downtown Burlington. The route also runs the other direction toward Essex Junction, but again requires a transfer for further travel.

After talking to neighbors, family and friends, Turgeon concluded that it will be tough to get people out of their vehicles and into buses and other forms of alternative transportation.

“A rural setting doesn't lend itself to easy solutions,” he said. “No matter what you come up with, replacing the automobile isn't that easy.”

CCTA gets 49 percent of its funding from the state and federal government, Cole said. The remaining revenue comes from member towns and fares paid by passengers.

There appears to be no inexpensive way to improve service in Williston.

Adding stops on the existing Williston route is problematic. Cole said buses operate on 30-minute cycles, so additional stops would throw off a schedule geared toward buses converging around the same time at the terminal on Cherry Street in Burlington.

An entirely new route costs about $450,000, Cole said, and would require additional state or federal funding.

There is some hope for improved service in Williston, albeit indirectly. CCTA is applying for a state grant that will fund an additional route in South Burlington. Cole said the Williston route could then run straight down U.S. 2 so riders no longer have to transfer at the University Mall.

McCullough, a Democrat running for re-election to the Vermont House of Representatives, said residents should practice self-reliance rather than depend on Williston's new board members to single-handedly fix transportation problems. He said people can organize carpools, buy more fuel-efficient vehicles or simply live closer to their jobs.

“The answer is you have got to do things for yourself a lot,” he said. “I'm right there with a lot of conservative people in saying that government isn't going to do everything for you.”

[Read more…]

Lower tax rate may provide little relief

Residents receive bills for property levy

July 31, 2008
By Greg Elias
Observer staff

What comes down may still go up.

That perhaps best describes the sometimes topsy-turvy world of property taxation in Vermont, where a lower tax rate can produce — with many ands, ifs and buts — a higher property tax bill.

Bills were mailed to all property owners in Williston on Friday. They showed a 20 percent decrease in the combined municipal and education property tax rate, which was set at $1.53.

Yet due to many factors, including a recent town-wide reappraisal that increased assessed values by an average of 31 percent, many if not most homeowners will still see a tax hike.

Brennan Woods resident Peter Fife, for example, saw his property tax bill rise 11 percent to $6,397. Fife said he and his wife, Brenda, earn a good living as nurses, but the incessant property tax hikes are still a drain on their household budget.

“It gets a little irritating year after year,” he said. “I just work harder and dig in, dig deeper.”

Tax bills are determined by multiplying the rate, expressed in dollars and cents per $100 in valuation, by the appraised value of a given property. But that is only the start of the mathematical gymnastics that go into the calculation.

Driving the complexity is the education tax. Amid a long-running political and legal debate over the best way to equitably fund public schools, the state Legislature settled on a complex formula. The Vermont Tax Department uses a 23-line worksheet to arrive at a final number called the homestead tax rate.  

The factors include how much the state contributes to education funding, how much a local school district spends per student above a base amount set by the Vermont Legislature, and how close the town's appraised values are to the actual market value, a measure called the common level of appraisal.

There is a separate rate for what the state classifies as non-residential property, which includes commercial property, second homes and open land. The rate for Williston, adjusted for the CLA, is $1.45.

The state set Williston's CLA at 93.9 percent even though the town just finished an appraisal. The adjustment had the effect of raising the tax rate by 8 cents.

The CLA issue, combined with all the other statistical machinations, has Fife questioning the fairness of the system.

“They are playing a lot of voodoo and black magic,” he said. “That's what's bugging me.”

Bill Johnson, director of property valuation and revenue for the Vermont Tax Department, said he did not know why Williston's CLA was set at less than 100 percent. One possibility is that the town's appraisal pegged values artificially low.

Dick Ransom, Williston's assistant assessor, said values were set conservatively, taking into consideration the weak housing market. He noted that the last time the town did an appraisal, the state said the CLA was less than 100 percent.

Other factors can also impact tax bills.

The first is a shift in the tax burden from businesses to homeowners. The reappraisal increased the average value of residential property by 43 percent. Values for commercial property rose just 20 percent, so homeowners are carrying a larger share of the tax burden.

That irks some residents, including Phil Ronco, who penned a guest column to the Observer (see page 6) complaining about his unaffordable tax bill.

“Let's be honest,” he wrote. “Commercial businesses such as Wal-Mart, Maple Tree Place and other commercial properties drove the need for new police and fire stations and are driving the need for increased municipal services. Therefore, the commercial property owners should be paying for the increased costs of these services that they require, rather than being subsidized by homeowners.”

Another factor is the adjustment known as income sensitivity, which calculates education property taxes based on household income. The formula also factors in per-pupil spending and the CLA.

Those with a household income of $90,000 or less are eligible for the tax break, according to Johnson. Above that income level the tax break is phased out.

Johnson acknowledged that income sensitivity can create a Robin Hood effect, forcing well-off residents to shoulder a larger share of property taxes than those of more modest means.

Of course, municipal and school spending also affect the tax rate. Increases were relatively modest this year: 5 percent for the municipal budget and about 4 percent for Williston schools.

As for the bills themselves, the town was tardy in mailing them because the appraisal process ran behind schedule.

Normally, tax bills are due by the 15th of the month. But because the town must give property owners at least 30 days to pay and the bills were not mailed until July 25, Town Clerk Deb Beckett decided to set the due date for Aug. 29.

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