Town Officials Hope For A Merge

LYNDON-As the month of March is getting closer, towns in the Northeast Kingdom are preparing to bring in voters. While townies and villagers catch up on town warnings, Lyndon is once again addressing a decades old debate.

 

The town of Lyndon and village officials have come to the conclusion that it's time to ask voters if the two can become one entity. This topic has emerged every ten to twelve years. The decision has always been a constant battle between people who live in the town and people who live in the village. "The process is, the town and the village have to vote on it. The unique thing about us is that the village is part of the town. So village residents voted twice, as a village resident, and then they could vote as a town resident," long time Legislature representative for the town of Lyndon Marty Feltus explained.

Feltus is explaining her experience as a selectboard member from a vote that happened over ten years ago, and shares that it was once successful. Until a group of people in town decided to change the vote. "We felt we did enough public information the first time around so that people knew the pros and cons and could express their views of advantages and disadvantages. The second time around this group of people said 'oh we didn't know this was going to happen, and oh we didn't know some of the issues.' So they garnered enough support to defeat it."

She explained that the determining factor of the decision is always due to people's taxes. "When you merge the two municipalities, the tax rates would have gone up a bit for the people outside the village. They would have gone down a bit for the people in the village. So that was a concern and there were people outside the village portion who did not want to see taxes raised." Feltus also lives in the town, and felt even though her taxes would have been raised it would have been the better outcome. "I was in favor of course, even though I was in the town portion. I think we are all in this together."

Feltus also said if the merge were to happen, it would be a smoother process for those who work for the town and village. Like public officials, Village Trustees, and Selectboard members. "From a day to day perspective the two entities cooperate very well, they trade things back and forth. They do very well, but since it's two separate entities the book keeping becomes very complicated."

Even after a decade the reasons for the merge still reign true to this day. Town Administrator Justin Smith agrees with Feltus's claims. "When you're doing billing, you have to bill the use of the truck to the village because the village is using it. Vice versa if we are doing something for the town, the town has to pay for the village employees to run the piece of equipment that's owned by the town. So there are just a lot of things that we bill crossways and it could be more efficient that's all."

Smith says this time around he hopes people will change their minds about the merge, and anticipates a good turn out for town meeting day. Lyndon will hold its first town informational meeting on the 19th, and the second will be held on the 28th. Both meetings will be held over zoom, and everyone is encouraged to attend. The town will be voting by Australian ballot. News7 Hailey Morgan tried to ask for public comment from those who live in the town and the village, but no one wanted to respond.