Windham board says town now has less control over wind funds

By John Hoover
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Windham Town Treasurer Peter Chamberlain has told the Windham Select Board that while Iberdrola’s latest offer, presented on Oct. 4, totals $1 million, most of it will not be available for the town to decide how to use.

Portions of the $1 million will go to the fire company, the school and payments to individual residents, and the amount that will come to the town will be considerably less than originally proposed, he said.

The original plan called for 20 turbines and $715,000 annually to the town in municipal property taxes and supplemental community payments.

The updated plan eliminates four turbines and spells out the dollar benefits as such:

  • $395,000 to the Town of Windham in municipal property taxes;
  • $105,000 supplemental payments to town government;
  • $150,000 directly to the community for use by local charities and organizations including the fire department; and
  • $350,000 for direct “partnership” payments to registered voters, with a minimum payment of $1,162 to every registered voter in Windham.

The Select Board met at the town office on Monday, Oct. 17 for its regular bi-monthly meeting. Chairman Frank Seawright said that while four turbines will be eliminated, one will be relocated closer to South Windham, meaning that 15 homes in S. Windham and 47 in Townshend will be within a mile and a half of a turbine. The new placement will also mean that a road across Stiles Brook will have to be constructed, Seawright said.

Responding to questions as to what would happen to the payments if after three years, Iberdrola were to go bankrupt or be sold, board member Kord Scott suggested that the lawyer who negotiated with Iberdrola could most likely answer those questions.

In other action, board member Maureen Bell asked Delinquent Tax Collector Ernie Friedli to discuss the process used in collecting delinquent taxes.

Friedli explained that after Oct. 31, he contacts those property owners who have not paid their taxes. Most are cooperative and willing to make payment, he said, and in many cases they forgot about taxes being due or were on vacation and didn’t pay before they went away. The issue is with those who ignore contacts and continue to be delinquent.

Friedli also questioned the more recent policy of not setting aside funds each year for building maintenance and new construction. He stated that the Town Office had been paid for by funds set aside over a period of years. Scott added that the roads budget last year had been able to set aside a portion of funds for future use.

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About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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  1. David Cherry says:

    Perhaps at the same time the lawyer could disclose the “partnership'” agreement Iberdrola would have individuals enter before receiving a payout. Does it have stipulations to forfeit legal and speech rites? Let’s get it on the table before Nov. 8. What exactly was negotiated?

  2. J. Backs says:

    It appears the Windham Select Board and Town Treasurer want to have their cake and eat it, too.

    They opted to ignore the opportunity to form a negotiating committee to represent the town, requesting instead that Iberdrola just ‘go away’ – which was highly unlikely. Now some complain about the outcome from the efforts of members of the community who chose to move forward without the SB to try to negotiate a better outcome (better than doing nothing…which is what the Windham SB opted to do) for their town and its residents.

    I hope the attorney who negotiated with Iberdrola will be swift in responding. Meanwhile, it’s quite evident that “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” John Lydgate