Wind tax info meeting canceled on legality concern

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What was intended as an informational workshop for Grafton property taxpayers to show them how to figure out the impact of the tax benefits derived from the proposed Iberdrola wind proposal on their personal property taxes did not come off as planned on Saturday.

The meeting had been warned as a Select Board meeting — just in case a quorum of the board showed up at the Grafton Elementary School.

But then Don Dougall, a pro-wind resident, asked at a Select Board meeting on Oct. 17 if he could set up a card table during the Saturday event because he believed that the figures to be presented in the workshop were “based on falacies”and he wanted to “tell another side of this story.”

Select Board chair Ron Pilette replied that he would “never want to prevent (Don) from setting up a card table.”

However, not only did Dougall not set up a card table, he showed up at the Saturday meeting contending that the meeting was illegal because it had been warned as a Select Board meeting and there was not a quorum of Select Board members in attendance.

Instead of risk being in violation of the law, Select Board member John Turner, who sits on the Economics Committee, called off the event and waited around from 1 to 3 p.m. just in case the public showed up and he could turn them away face to face.

While the meeting should have been warned as an Economics Committee meeting instead of a Special Select Board meeting, it was still a legal meeting and did not need a quorum of select board members since no formal action was being taken.

Town Administrator Emily Huff, who issues such notices, broached the subject on Monday with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. Here is her email. And here is the response.

The next property tax workshop will be held on Thursday Nov. 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Grafton Elementary School.

— Cynthia Prairie

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Filed Under: GraftonLatest News

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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