Group to consider sales tax replacements

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

The Selectboard established a task force that will study alternative means of raising revenue to prepare for the potential loss of the local sales and rooms and meals taxes.

At its meeting on July 11, the board decided that the Local Options Revenue Task Force will include one Selectboard member, two business representatives and two members from the community at large. The agenda for Monday’s Selectboard meeting includes time to appoint the members of the task force.

Selectboard Chairwoman Ginny Lyons has mentioned former board member state Rep. Mary Peterson as a likely community member on the task force.

The legislation that allows Williston and a collection of other municipalities in the state to implement local option taxes expires in 2008.

Two bills this past legislative session that included provisions to strengthen the local option taxes — one would have expanded the option to include other municipalities, one would have extended the sunset on the current legislation — were not approved.

The task force was subsequently developed to ready the town for the possibility of losing a revenue source that produces approximately $2.7 million for the town. The local sales and rooms and meals taxes reduced the municipal property tax rate by 24 cents this fiscal year, saving the owner of a $250,000 home approximately $600.

Among the revenue sources the task force is expected to examine are user fees, impact fees, special taxing districts, sales taxes and assessing businesses at a rate greater than 100 percent.

A written report is due to the Selectboard by Jan. 1.

Sewer transfer

The Selectboard approved a transfer of the excess sewer capacity Al Senecal held on the Hertz building on Harvest Lane.

Senecal will transfer 900 gallons of sewer to a proposed commercial warehouse building on 378 Commerce St. and another 350 gallons to a future building at the Williston Driving Range. Senecal will keep 400 gallons in reserve for the Hertz facility, while returning 357 gallons to the town.

Under the current sewer ordinance, Senecal would not be able to transfer the sewer capacity. However, he acquired the sewer before the ordinance and is allowed to transfer it between properties.

Town Manager Rick McGuire said the transfer would allow Senecal to use his resources more efficiently and to return some gallons to the town.

The Selectboard approved the transfer by a 4-1 vote. Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs was the lone dissenting vote.

Brennan Woods

The town installed stop signs at the intersection of Brennan Woods Drive and Hanon Drive earlier this month.

The signs were part of proposed traffic calming measures the town has planned for the development. The town also plans to install a series of speed tables once it assumes ownership of the roads from the neighborhood’s developer, the Snyder Companies.

A severe thunderstorm caused damage to the road and drainage system at Brennan Woods earlier this month. Town Manager Rick McGuire said the developer will have to fund the repairs since the town has not yet accepted the roads.

Maple Tree meeting

Town Manager Rick McGuire told the Selectboard that town staff had met with representatives of the new owner of Maple Tree Place.

McGuire said the meeting with Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust officials occurred June 29. McGuire said the representatives “promised cooperation and hope to address many of the town’s concerns in the near future.”

Inland, a real estate company based in Illinois, purchased Maple Tree Place from Connecticut-based Starwood Ceruzzi for $102.3 million on May 20.