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Old 06-27-2008, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Western views of Mansfield/Camels Hump!
1,941 posts, read 3,223,231 times
Reputation: 1085

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Yeah, that's it! Couldn't remember for the life of me. Thanks.

 
Old 06-27-2008, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Vermont
3,327 posts, read 8,755,779 times
Reputation: 1986
Speak of the devil....

Denied:1up! Software
(link to Caledonian-Record article about increased energy costs and public safety).

Last edited by vter; 06-27-2008 at 10:45 AM..
 
Old 06-27-2008, 06:42 PM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 4,052,266 times
Reputation: 925
I think the main issue at hand is how are people going to afford these increases year after year. I will bet my paycheck that most people in the state have not had raises that can keep up with the constant increases in the cost of living. Our property tax bill comes with a breakdown and by far the majority of the tax dollars are for education. We are sitting hear complaining now about what our taxes and fuel bills will be this year. What about in the next few years? People will be spending less and less and the state will take in less and less tax dollars. That lost revenue is going to have to be made up somehow.

IBM is just the beginning. Things I feel are going to get much worse before they get better. The NYSE just had the worst June since the Great Depression(this year hasn't been stellar). That is just one of many indicators that can't be ignored.
 
Old 06-27-2008, 07:50 PM
 
Location: hinesburg, vt
1,574 posts, read 4,412,016 times
Reputation: 395
One major problem I have noticed being here for three years is that a good segment of the population actually does not pay close attention to the budget process much less take the time and effort to even bother to vote. Among many of my coworkers, three quarters actually being "native" Vt'ers, they voice the same complaints and frustrations, but when I ask why they don't bother to get directly involved I just get the lame response that it will not change anything and then the equally lame statement that the influx of "flatlanders" has messed up the works. Ironically, it actually can be shown that a sizeable portion of our budget ills can really be directly attributed to these dreaded "flatlanders". I think that economic pressure and pain will have to get worse and then be sustained before a good many folks will take an active interest in demanding better fiscal responsibility rather than grudgingly maintaining the attitude that it is what it is.
 
Old 06-28-2008, 06:28 AM
 
Location: Apex, NC
1,341 posts, read 5,629,048 times
Reputation: 577
On my last trip to Orwell last winter I learned that the student population of Orwell School is diminishing. I suspect that this is the case throughout many parts of Vermont. With more young families moving out of Vermont, school budget increases will be mitigated to some extent. Of course, this means that the average amount spent per pupil in Vermont will increase as well, due to a diminished economy of scale. Of course, one thing I remember when living in Vermont was all those school budget conflicts. School budgets getting voted NO until they pared it down well enough to squeak by with a YES. Down here in my semi-rural county in Virginia, school budgets almost never get voted NO. In fact, the most exciting argument recently was whether or not to replace aging roofs on schools with the old flat membrane again, or to construct more attractive and long living peaked roofs.

I'm not sure politicians in Vermont can solve the most pressing issues that Vermont faces without adding major incentives that _strongly_ encourages migration toward city centers. The population of Vermont is so small, and the cost of infrastructure maintenance is so high, that it makes no practical sense for workers to choose to - and for government to allow - commuting from the country into town/city. Sprawl is taking place throughout Vermont, and this increases road maintenance costs for individual towns. It also makes it harder for Vermont farmers to survive if they have to compete against increasing rural populations for land.

Some decades ago Virginia made the brave decision to wrest maintenance from individual cities and counties and formed the Virginia Department of Transportation. Now we have a statewide department that manages all of the roads. Such a move in Vermont could create _significant_ savings. Take one specific example alone: trucks. Imagine the savings that Vermont as a whole would enjoy if they were sending bids for dozens of plow/dump trucks out to manufacturers? As I understand it, currently you've got dinky little town maintenance departments ordering a $80,000 truck every 10 years; that's not alot of buying leverage to pressure down bids.

Someone else was mentioning how Vermont is not being hit as hard by the declining real estate market. But the other side of that argument is that since no real estate boom took place, there was no real opportunity to build wealth for people who entered and left the market at the right time. Of course, there are some folks who think that a home shouldn't be an "investment". The problem with that argument is that real estate in Vermont is taxed heavily relative to the rest of the country, and if you sell your home you may be expected to pay capital gains as well. It is therefore in the state's best fiscal interest for the long term trend in real estate market values to increase steadily; their budgets depend on it. The problem - in my opinion - is that fiscal interests take a back seat to environmental interests nearly every time legislation tries to move forward in Vermont state government. I'm not saying Vermonters need to be anti-environment. Not at all. But if the state government would implement a slightly more pro-growth business and tax environment then more people would remain in Vermont, and more people would relocate to Vermont. For example, Vermont's population growth since 2000 has been a paltry 2.5%. The national average is 6.4%. If the state government could enact legislation and policies that encourage higher density development and increase Vermont's growth by 1.5% to a total of 4% every 6 years, the state and its citizens would be in a much better financial position. I just don't think a six year 2.5% growth rate is enough for Vermont to continue without its citizens being forced to make increasing sacrifices. Living the simple life only goes so far.

Sean
 
Old 06-28-2008, 12:23 PM
 
Location: Apex, NC
1,341 posts, read 5,629,048 times
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I'm replying to what I think was a response to the above message my MRVphotog in a different thread, for continuity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRVphotog View Post
I find it hard to believe that the state DOT takes care of main street in the small towns of Virginia. Local control over things in their own towns are important although doing it thru the state would seem to save money when buying equiptment.
Believe it. Private roads in Virginia are maintained by the owners but all public roads and bridges are maintained by VDOT. Furthermore VDOT has approval/denial rights on new developments state-wide on agreed upon safety standards (i.e., 100' dual line of sight for every 10mph of speed limit on private road right of ways, or insufficient road arteries to support 'n' more houses without improvements to the arteries themselves etc). The Virginia Dept of Transportation has the third largest state-maintained road system in the nation (behind TX and NC). The Salem District of VDOT, where I live, encompasses 10 counties and 14 independent cities with a population of more than 650,000 people. I just poked around during my fence building coffee break and did some research. The land area for my VDOT district in Virginia is +/- 5,100 sq. miles or about 55% the land area of Vermont (+/- 9,200 sq. miles). Populations clearly compare but my district has nearly twice the population density. But here is the kicker! My VDOT district maintains 8,200 miles of public roads. Vermont has 14,000 miles of public roads! Only 2,700 of those 14,000 Vermont road miles are state maintained. That's alot of road to maintain particularly when you've got to deal with frost heaving, etc. To summarize, in my Southwest Virginia district, there are 80 residents available to help pay for each mile of public road. In Vermont, there are 46 residents to help pay for the same distance. I wonder how much that has to do with the overall higher tax burden in Vermont? Road maintenance is _expensive_. Let's run some guesstimates. Using a page on estimated road maintenance costs in Genesee County, Michigan (the first northern page I found), it costs $205K per mile just to resurface an existing paved road. That's about $4,500 per resident, so for a family of 4 that would be $18,000 of their taxes every 5 years (?) to resurface a Vermont road? That's like $300/month in taxes that have to come from somewhere. And every 15 years (?) you're talking a re-grade of the road which costs $9,000 per resident, or $600/month in taxes that come from somewhere. So, right off the bat, that imaginary family of four Vermonters pays about $4,500 a year to maintain existing roads. If I'm not too far off, that's a pretty big piece of the tax burden pie.

I understand that local control is important but it clearly has a cost. But even in my district, citizens voices are heard. When there is new road development proposed, several public hearings take place, and if there is a sufficient uproar then major changes are made to projects.

Further savings in Virginia has been experienced, since 2002, through the outsourcing of certain maintenance responsibilities on a district-by-district basis in Virginia. Due to this and other efficiency improvements, Virginia has enjoyed annual savings of a quarter billion dollars. Comparing road mileage that might imply an annual savings in Vermont of 62 million dollars. That's 5% of Vermont's education budget.

Just a personal anecdote. I spent the last 6 years in Vermont living in a rural area and I was really amazed at all of the back dirt roads that were town maintained and served only a handful of residents. I know of one dirt road in Orwell that was one mile in length and served something like 5 houses. The road itself, as dirt roads go, was very well set up and great expense was taken to ensure proper drainage during thaws. Just to serve 5 houses! Down here, that would more likely be a private road and the homeowners would have to maintain it themselves. Such is as it should be, otherwise it becomes an unfair burden to other folks who choose to live in more dense areas.

Sean
 
Old 06-28-2008, 04:05 PM
 
Location: on a dirt road in Waitsfield,Vermont
2,186 posts, read 5,974,376 times
Reputation: 1125
I live on a dirt road and it is a public meaning the public uses it as well as the people who live on it which is the case for many of the dirt roads in Vermont. I would much rather have the town take care of it than the VDOT. VDOT's budget would have to be greatly increased for them to be responsible for every public road in Vermont.
 
Old 06-28-2008, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 4,052,266 times
Reputation: 925
And every 15 years (?) you're talking a re-grade of the road which costs $9,000 per resident, or $600/month in taxes that come from somewhere. So, right off the bat, that imaginary family of four Vermonters pays about $4,500 a year to maintain existing roads. If I'm not too far off, that's a pretty big piece of the tax burden pie.

Sean, Many of the side roads get resurfaced around every 10-15 years, but many parts of 89 and 91 get resurfaced every couple years. I know the state as well as most others get federal funding(which we pay for anyway), but we probably pay for most of it. It's still a mind blowing number.
 
Old 07-30-2008, 12:35 PM
 
862 posts, read 809,817 times
Reputation: 149
Vermont has a VERY serious problem in that half of the population are trust-fund
yuppy types and the other half are caught in the low wage-high cost environment
that the former bring into being.
 
Old 07-30-2008, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Inis Fada
16,780 posts, read 28,949,493 times
Reputation: 7361
Quote:
Originally Posted by 68vette View Post
And every 15 years (?) you're talking a re-grade of the road which costs $9,000 per resident, or $600/month in taxes that come from somewhere. So, right off the bat, that imaginary family of four Vermonters pays about $4,500 a year to maintain existing roads. If I'm not too far off, that's a pretty big piece of the tax burden pie.

Sean, Many of the side roads get resurfaced around every 10-15 years, but many parts of 89 and 91 get resurfaced every couple years. I know the state as well as most others get federal funding(which we pay for anyway), but we probably pay for most of it. It's still a mind blowing number.
Referring to the interstates only:

The fastest resurfacing I have ever seen has been in VT. NYS has so many obstacles, hurdles and restrictive work policies that a few mile stretch can take months. There are years and years between paving projects and the roads are awful.

My husband had heard a report last year on the NPR in which a goverment person (NH? VT?) stated that they actually reduced paving costs by paving more frequently. The roads would require less repairs. The repair prep eats up a significant amount of the paving budget. The bottomline was that frequent paving was actually more cost effective and saved taxpayer money.
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