Vote on Dummerston-Putney gravel pit purchase: ‘smart, future-oriented’

DUMMERSTON — I encourage all Dummerston and Putney voters to say yes on Tuesday, March 5 to articles proposing joint town purchase of the Renaud Gravel Pit.

The plan addresses providing materials for the towns' current and future road repair and maintenance. Articles must be passed by both towns in order to move forward and will be decided by Australian ballot, rather than by discussion and voice vote at Town Meeting (because the purchase involves funding through a bond).

After attending a great informational meeting on Feb. 13, I feel convinced that this would be a smart, future-oriented action on many levels. It will stabilize the towns' highway department budgets, it will provide required expensive and specialized stone for ditch stabilization (as mandated by the state) at a lower rate than commercially available, and it will be more economical for taxpayers for decades to come.

The economics are complex but beneficial. For the first 14 years, an increase for the highway portion of our property tax bill will be small: in the single- to very-low-double digits per year per $100,000 house value. The variation is due to how much of the payment is interest versus principle on the bond. Then, after that period, homeowners will be assessed lower taxes for highway expenditures and those savings are projected to increase dramatically as time goes on.

There will be little to no additional wear and tear on highway department equipment, as any heavy work such as blasting will get contracted to specialized firms. Act 250 and local permitting have already been conducted.

The research and analysis for this project are impressive. If you're the spreadsheet type, you can pick one up at either Town Office and then follow along with the Feb. 13 presentation and q-and-a on BCTV. If you watch the hearing all the way through, it will all make sense, even if you feel a bit lost in the sea of numbers!

In addition, both towns will conduct a second public information meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Written materials will also be available.

I hope all residents will get informed so we can benefit from the hard work in pulling this plan together.

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