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Town and Village

Board debates increase for Farmland Protection Fund

DUMMERSTON—Selectboard Clerk Gurudharm Khalsa told his colleagues he received a request for the town to double the Farmland Protection Fund from its current yearly budgeted amount of $2,500. He said he agrees it should be increased.

The other board members were not convinced.

At the Dec. 23 regular board meeting, board member Joe Cook pointed out that in the approximately 20 years of the fund’s existence, there has been only one disbursement. It was recent, Cook said, and it was small.

Board Chair Zeke Goodband said that after the February municipal taxes are collected, the fund will have more than $30,000 in its coffers.

Goodband explained the fund was established to provide seed money for the acquisition of land, but it was “never intended as a huge amount for the outright purchase of land."

Khalsa said he believes the town should increase the yearly amount the town budgets into the fund. He mentioned the necessity of taking a long-range look at scarcity in the food supply because of climate change and local instability.

“The town should invest in long-term agriculture,” he added.

“I wish we could get a broader sense” of what more residents think, board member Steve Glabach said, noting the same people talk about the fund every year.

Board member Jerelyn Wilson suggested adding the item to the Town Meeting agenda to promote a bigger, town-wide conversation.

“If the people at Town Meeting want to raise” the Farmland Protection Fund’s yearly budgeted amount, “then that’s what we’ll do,” Goodband said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #342 (Wednesday, February 3, 2016). This story appeared on page C1.

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