Town appoints board members, Abrahams ousts Duncan for CSWD post
June 30, 2011By Steven Frank
Williston’s recent struggle with shorthanded boards and commissions are just about over.
The Selectboard made eight appointments as part of its regular meeting on Monday.
Craig Abrahams highlighted the selections for the volunteer posts with a victory in the night’s only contested race. Abrahams won a spot as Williston’s representative to the Chittenden Solid Waste District’s board with a 3-1 victory over incumbent Joe Duncan.
The two-year term begins immediately.
“With our position as a host community, we’re needing a zealous advocate. And also, quite frankly, we need some new blood,” Board member Chris Roy said at Monday’s meeting, alluding to the fact that CSWD’s administrative office and new compost facility are located in Williston. “I’m impressed with Craig’s initiative.”
Abrahams, a sales manager, was interviewed by the Board four weeks ago and is “very focused” on waste reduction. He belongs to a local citizens’ group known as VOCAL (Vermont Organized Communities Against Landfills). Past articles by the Observer and Vermont Business Magazine have documented his opposition to CSWD’s plans for a landfill in Williston.
“I’m a big proponent of waste reduction and our purpose at VOCAL is a long-term goal of no further landfills in Vermont,” Abrahams said.
Roy made the motion for Abrahams’ appointment. Board members Jeff Fehrs and Jay Michaud also voted for Abrahams. Board chairman Terry Macaig voted for Duncan and Board member Debbie Ingram was not present.
Duncan was then selected to be an alternate on the board, a spot that had been vacant. But Duncan told the Observer on Wednesday that he won’t accept the postition. He’s been involved with the CSWD board since 2004, dating back to his tenure as the Winooski representative and believes it’s time for a change.
“I’ve seen (Abrahams) show passion about the Chittenden Solid Waste District,” Michaud said. “It’s a raw nerve for the town. It’s critical that a representative from Williston adds things that could be of value … I think Craig will certainly represent Williston the way we want it represented.”
Macaig said Monday that he is concerned that Abrahams’ stance against landfills would create a conflict of interest. He also wanted to give Duncan another chance –other Board members expressed displeasure over Duncan’s attendance record and lack of communication about the new compost facility.
“(Duncan’s) communication had improved. He learned a lot and deserved the chance to go on,” Macaig told the Observer on Tuesday.
Also at Monday’s meeting, David Turner was interviewed and later appointed to a spot on the Development Review Board. Turner, a resident for more than 20 years with a background in engineering, said he “wants to get closer to the issues.” During the 10-minute interview, Turner said he looked at the town plan and believes the town could be spending too much money on land studies.
Turner, who is filling a vacant post, added that he would “like to get his feet wet” on the DRB and then possibly pursue a spot on the Planning Commission.
“(Turner) handled himself well,” Macaig said. “He has a lot to learn but he’s in a good spot. He’ll be with a lot of seasoned veterans.”
Other residents appointed to fill vacant posts on Monday were: Champlain Valley Union High School incoming senior Sam Fontaine (Community Justice Board), Bob Metz (Recreation Committee), Marie-Claude Beaudette (Conservation Commission), Meghan Cope (Planning Commission), and Shannon Hiltner (Planning Commission).
Macaig said the positions had been vacant for a couple of months and filling them is “always a frustrating process,” but that he is pleased with this year’s amount of qualified candidates.
Macaig added that another race, a contested one, will be decided at the Selectboard’s next scheduled meeting on July 11. Selectboard members Roy and Ingram are vying for one spot on the Regional Planning/Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization Commission.
Board Sets Tax Rate
With the next fiscal year beginning Friday, the Selectboard set the FY 2012 municipal tax rate at $.215. The rate is a $.005 more than last year, which equates to a $5 increase in taxes for each $100,000 in assessed property value. The approved rate is the same one that was estimated in March at Town Meeting.