Derry board sets tax rates, ratifies mask order

By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Select Board on Monday, July 20 voted to set a municipal property tax rate of $0.40401 per $100 of assessed value and to accept the state homestead rate of $1.6130 and the non-homestead rate of $1.6380. The municipal tax rate funds the operation of town government. State Rep. Kelly Pajala said that educational spending has not gone down because of the Covid crisis.

Late homestead filing penalties were waived for this year in an effort to lower the burden on taxpayers during the crisis.

The Board also voted to ratify a health order mandating the wearing of protective face masks that it first considered at it special meeting last Wednesday. With certain exceptions, the order states that “all establishments located in the Town of Londonderry that invite the public into their premises for the purpose of transacting business, shall require both staff and customers (or visitors) to wear cloth face coverings or face shields over their nose and mouth while inside the building of the establishment.” Board members George Mora, Taylor Prouty, Jim Fleming, and Tom Cavanagh voted in favor, while Vincent Annunziata abstained.

Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie also clarified that the mask mandate would not affect the park at Lowell Lake and other outdoor areas since it only applies when people are indoors.

Beattie also urged anyone who believes he may have been exposed to the coronavirus to act as if he had the virus and to quarantine. Board chair George Mora said Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine has said that of the 65 positive Covid-19 antigen test results at the Manchester Medical Clinic — 18 of which were for Londonderry residents — 37 were followed up with standard PCR — Polymerase chain reaction — testing. But only two came back positive.

Of 1,423 PCR tests conducted in Manchester and Londonderry, only three turned up positive. Mora said no cluster or outbreak has been declared. The antigen test is less sensitive than the PCR tests so turns up false negatives rather than false positive. So, Beattie said, the Department of Health cannot explain the discrepancy.

Beattie also said that the West River Farmers Market went well on Saturday. Names and contact information for 400 visitors were recorded.

Mora said she would like to remind residents that they are allowed to speak to the board on issues not on the agenda during every meeting under the time set aside for visitors and concerned citizens. Mora said she has been inundated with emails, phone calls and Facebook messages from residents concerned about issues over which she individually and the Select Board as a whole have no control. She added that when she says she has authority only as a single member of the board and then only during a meeting, she has been told she is being “weak and cowardly.”

Annunziata said he prefers to be blunt and tells people that they should attend the meetings if they have something to say or request. Mora said that “all of us (on the board) are attuned to the needs of the people in town and will do whatever we can … about the things which we have the authority … about.” The topic of how the board can educate residents about what the Select Board does and how people can make their requests known will be on the agenda of a future meeting.

Pajala, as town clerk, said that absentee ballots are now available for the Aug. 11 primary election. Voters can request ballots by calling the clerk’s office at 802-824-3356, sending an email to the clerk’s office at townclerk@londonderryvt.org, returning the absentee ballot request form that they received in the mail or going online by clicking here. She added that even when mailed on the same day, the U.S. Postal Service will sometimes deliver ballots to people in the same household on different days.

Pajala also said that the pick-up window at the Town Office Building, 100 Old School St. in S. Londonderry,  has re-opened for “almost all business that cannot be done by mail or email.”

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