Letters to the Editor12/18/08

Dec. 18, 2008


Budget needs more trimming

After reading the Observer’s Dec. 4 article entitled, “Town reins in spending amid economic woes,” I am inclined to question Town Manager Rick McGuire’s concept of a lean budget. Spending in such difficult times should be keyed to the rate of inflation and not show yet another spending increase.

In the last three budget cycles, the town budget has risen 26.8 percent (19 percent, then 5 percent, then 2.8 percent). I seriously doubt if any individual in this town has seen personal income grow, in such a short time, to that extent. It should also be pointed out that the town artificially influenced the tax rate by drawing down the town budget reserve. That artifice will probably work for one more budget cycle after the current proposal, at which time the tax rate would return to its natural level.

Although Selectboard member Chris Roy and I inhabit different parts of the political spectrum, his point that Mr. McGuire’s 2.8 percent is in reality a 9 percent rise in municipal tax rate is well taken and shows that statistics can be quite misleading.

A noteworthy example of the town manager’s failure to prepare a lean budget can be seen in the 11 percent increase in the fire department budget. One wonders how much money is really required to provide fire protection in a town of 8,000+ people, or are we seeing an example of empire building?

Most economists think that times will get worse before they get better and I believe that the town of Williston will be better served by a budget which truly is lean, rather than one which claims to be lean. It is incumbent upon us as citizens to demand fiscal responsibility and  assume that it will happen without our intervention.

Michael R. Mauss



Vt. needs more rotaries

Another avoidable tragic stop- light injury (“Pedestrian hit by car, severely injured,” Nov. 26) leaves wounds to the victim, mostly preventable as the United States and Vermont convert to roundabouts now numbering over a thousand nationally.

A holiday visit to Maple Tree Place included a U-turn at the Maple Tree Place Road roundabout where Williston Police recorded only a single fender bender crash during the first six years of operation. Vermont’s first four roundabouts, including in Montpelier and Manchester downtowns, recorded only one pedestrian injury (bumps and bruises) in 35 roundabout years. Research confirms roundabouts cut serious injuries for pedestrians and car occupants by about 90 percent.

New York’s transportation department essentially banned signals three years ago while Rhode Island and Virginia now prefer roundabouts over signals.

Data from Melbourne and France, 4,000 and 30,000 roundabouts respectively, show just one pedestrian injury yearly per 250 to 350 roundabouts (Vermont stoplights number about 350). At 15 to 20 roundabouts (costing about $30 million) yearly, it takes a decade or two to convert Vermont to roundies. Plus roundies slash pollution, energy use and delay while improving business access and constraining sprawl.

The U.S. 2/Maple Tree Place Road stands out as a good place for Williston to start roundabout conversion.

Tony Redington