There was an error in the headline on last week's school-budget story by Kevin J. Kelley. It read: "Pass or Fail? Burlington Could Say No to a 9.9 Percent School Budget Increase." As the story made clear, it's a 9.9 percent tax increase. The article also misstated pay raises for teachers; they will receive a 12 percent increase over three years. And an update: The same story stated that Mayor Miro Weinberger "isn't" taking a stand on the spending plan and its 9.9 percent tax increase. Later that day, however, Weinberger did take a stand — coming out in favor of the budget after he says school board members met his request for savings.
In a spotlight for Catherine Hall's exhibit that appeared in last week's paper, we inadvertently described the Castleton Downtown Gallery show as "three-piece." In fact it is a three-room exhibit. Our apologies for the error; it has been corrected online.
Back to Math Class
I believe that Kevin Kelley forgot to compound the taxes before coming up with the total rate increase for 2010-2015 ["Pass or Fail? Burlington Could Say No to a 9.9 Percent School Tax Increase," February 19]. If you paid $100 in taxes in 2009 and used the 11.7 percent rate to determine your taxes in 2010, you paid $111.70. Then if you used the $111.70 and the rate increase of 3.4 percent, you paid $115.50. And so on. The result is the projected 2015 amount of $151.06. That is a 51 percent increase, not 43.1 percent. Remember, "compounded interest is the strongest force in the universe."
Editor’s note: We actually did consider using the compound-interest angle but decided it would be too complicated to present in chart form.
The Problem With Rutland
[Re "All Hands on Deck," February 19]: I am disheartened to learn that Brennan Duffy, executive director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, would claim that a key solution to improving "stability" in Rutland is to focus more on constructing single-family homes instead of "low-cost apartments that attract a transient population." This de-densifying model does not fit the current needs of our modern population. Suburban, single-family homes do little to cater to the needs and lifestyles of single-parent families. Indeed, Duffy's stigmatizing of affordable, well-maintained, people-centric residential development is unfortunate. Dense and well-maintained apartment housing promotes unity. As a Rutland native, I can tell you that my city is not the evil place people may think it is. In the words of urbanist Jane Jacobs, "crowded spaces are supplied with eyes" — and, in turn, enable community trust.
[Re "The South Burlington City Council Chair May Have Violated Campaign-Finance Law; Could She Get Busted for It?" September 11, 2013; Fair Game: "Downton the Tubes," January 22]. Pam Mackenzie, chair of the VPT board, is under investigation by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for allegedly conducting secret meetings. The staff is demanding her resignation. If I were writing for Seven Days, my headline would read, "South Burlington Council Chair Pam Mackenzie Ignores Residents, Favors Special Interests, Writes Off Airport Neighborhood and Refuses to Hold Meeting for Public Input on Interim Zoning."
As a South Burlington resident for over 42 years, I am disgusted by Mackenzie's shenanigans. Last year she funded the election of two friends. Once elected, they voted her into the chair position. At that point she dismissed the proficient head of the Form-Based Code Committee and handed the position to Mike Simoneau, a commercial real estate broker. This year Simoneau wants his own council seat and is hoping to buy it with $10,000 of his own money ["Local Races Reveal the Escalating Cost of Campaigning in Chittenden County," February 12]. Whoa! Enough!
Who will represent the honest, hardworking citizens of South Burlington without hidden personal agendas? Meaghan Emery and Tracey Harrington will. Emery and Harrington are well informed, well qualified and deserve our vote. Best of all, their ethics are unquestionable! They'll listen to the voices of the ordinary South Burlington taxpayers, not just the megaphones of the rich and powerful.
Gotta Admire Mackenzie
I don't know Pam Mackenzie, I'm not a South Burlington voter and I strongly disagree with the city council's stand on the F-35s. But the recent public and personal sniping has been upsetting, because whether you agree with her or not, Pam Mackenzie obviously cares a great deal about her community. I have admired her efforts serving on the VPT board as well as the city council. I've worked with Kevin Dorn and was impressed the city council had the good sense to hire him, and as someone who has experience with nonprofits and witnessed the pervasive lack of board governance that impacts us all, I cannot help but admire any board member of any nonprofit who takes action when they perceive it necessary.
I had to laugh at some of the supposedly negative commentary, because if the worst you can dredge up about someone includes appointing people they trust, disbanding committees they believe to be ineffective and not publicizing meetings about sensitive personnel issues, I think Mackenzie must be upholding very high ethical standards. And I'm thankful whenever I encounter any politician with the courage of their convictions who is not afraid to go against public opinion; this country is better for it. I appreciated Seven Days' great reporting on the city council meeting [Off Message: South Burlington Council Decries 'A Mockery of Democracy,' February 19]. In my view Rosanne Greco's vitriolic speech reflects more negatively on her than anyone else, and the professional responses from her fellow council members made me think even more highly of them all.
Moran Plan Fan
I want to compliment Seven Days for your informative article on renovation plans for the Moran Plant ["Moran With a Plan," February 12]. Of all the proposals I have seen for Moran over the past 30 years, this is by far the best and the most viable. My compliments to Tad Cooke and Erick Crockenberg for all the work they have done to bring together all the elements necessary for a successful project. They remind me so much of former governor Howard Dean and I in pursuit of the bike path in the early 1980s.
And that's what it takes to make a project like this happen: two young spark plugs to put together a plan and doggedly pursue it in the face of all those who said it couldn't be done. But this isn't just two college students pursuing a dream. They have the support and invaluable advice and influence of well-known Burlington heavyweights like Charlie Tipper, Jeff Glassberg, Bill Truex and Mayor Weinberger, among many others.
We go past Moran on our Segway tours of the waterfront and often have tourists ask us about this ugly industrial hulk. We recite the history of the plant and the attempts to renovate it over the years. I agree with Mayor Weinberger. This is the last best hope for Moran. If this project doesn't work, nothing will. It's time to tear down this eyesore. And, of course, that means demolition costs of at least $2 million and possibly the loss of TIF funds.
The Burlington bike path is the number-one attraction on TripAdvisor for Burlington. Let's make New Moran number two. Vote yes on Number 2 on the March 2014 Ballot.
Sharp owns Burlington Segways.
[Re "Lake Champlain Is a Mess; Now Who's Going to Clean It Up?" February 12]: So Vermont dairy farms were "bought out" in the 1970s yet they are still a major political power in the state. Vermont is dairy cows; I get it. But if Lake Champlain is the sewer it is because of Vermont dairy, we need to fix it. I'd like to see an honest appraisal of the costs of dairy farming to Vermont: Is it profitable or is it a subsidized business that costs the state more than it generates?