Mary Layton: Responses To Selectboard Candidate Questionnaire
Running for 3-year Selectboard seat
Mary Layton is running for the 3-year Selectboard seat. Her responses to the five-question mini questionnaire are below. The responses of her opponent Marcia Calloway are here.
1. The Valley News published a column by Jim Kenyon on January 28, 2018 about Selectboard members attending meetings via video chat. Some Norwich residents prefer in person attendance by public officials, even though electronic attendance is allowed by statute. Question: Absent unforeseen circumstances, do you plan to attend in person all or almost all regular and special Selectboard meetings?
I will be able to attend in person almost all of the Select Board meetings. My work schedule allows for it. I do think it is better to attend in person, but it may be unrealistic to think all members can do so.
2. On January 10, 2018, the Selectboard voted to recommend to the voters a FYE 2019 Town budget of $4,502,386. Questions: How would you have voted at that meeting on that budget? Why? [In Mary’s case: How did you vote on that budget and why?]
I voted to recommend the FYE Town budget of $4,502,386. The proposed budget increased by less than 1%, and supports a level of service that 76% of voters were comfortable with at the last Town Meeting. The increase is about $40,000. I do not support cutting health insurance for employees. Why would you not want healthy employees? When I moved to Norwich as a teenager in 1970 there was far less than is available now. There was a part time constable, no recreation program, no Huntley Meadow, Milt Frye Nature Area or Foley Park, the library had no addition and was open for very limited hours, and Tracy Hall had not been renovated. The aspects of town that seem to be integral are actually value added over the last 37 years. That being said, they are important to the life style of the town. I do worry that the six figure increase in the school budget due to state changes will bounce back with anger towards the municipal side, which I think is reasonable given the services provided.
3. Multiple Choice Question: What would you like to see happen to the population of Norwich? Please select one and if you want, explain your choice.
4. Question: What are your views regarding the possible establishment of a new mixed use zoning district in the Route 5 South and River Road areas?
There has been a lot of emotion regarding the possible establishment of a new mixed use zoning district in the Route 5 South and River Road areas. I do not favor large developments with hundreds of units because they will put too much of a strain on town services. On the other hand, I think positively about mixed use development when sitting at the patio of the Norwich Inn in the summer. I know that within walking distance are homes, apartments, a fantastic general store, restaurants, a library, a public safety facility, parks, trails, a book store, the post office, and the Town Hall. What is not to like about that scenario? It would be helpful to know in regards to the Route Five South and River Road areas whether there is genuine value to residents to have mixed use development. I think it clearly would raise taxes, which is not good. I am not sure what specific type of development could be seen as being worth an increase in taxes to the majority of residents.
5. Other than the adoption of a town plan, what are several issues that you think the Town or Selectboard should or must address in the next 12 to 18 months? Why? Do you have any specifics on how to address?
Critical issues to be addressed by the Town in this coming year, and which are the responsibility of the Town Manager, are hiring of new employees due to impending retirements or other openings, and negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. A policy question for the Select Board is whether to compensate union and nonunion employees on the same basis. I would personally like the Select Board to do a capital budget to review our infrastructure condition, costs, and reserve funds. I would like to see as part of our emergency management practices the formation of neighborhood networks that can provide immediate mutual aid in the event that severe storms cut areas off from normal emergency response. I am very concerned that the intensity and frequency of storms will increase, and think it wise for citizens to be prepared to shelter in place if needs be, and think it would be wise if citizens installed generators so they are not reliant on the electrical grid in the aftermath of a storm.
Photo is screenshot from CATV video of Norwich Candidates Night 2/27/18. Watch that video on the CATV website by clicking here.