Hartford's charter allows the town to levy all 'local option' taxes except a general sales tax.

Hartford's Local Option Tax Pool

Submitted 16 days ago
Created by
F. X. Flinn

... is co-mingled with the capital reserve funds, and up to the Selectboard to spend

Jeff Arnold's been leading the charge on pushing the Hartford Selectboard to get going on replacing the un-repairable town pool on the high school grounds.

He's gotten resistance from the Selectboard and in galvanizing his fellow citizens he's been making a claim that the local option tax revenue should be used and this should be put up to a vote.

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Just to clarify things about these funds: Our charter commands that they go into a capital reserve fund. The Hartford Capital Reserve fund is there for major items that will last for many years, and typically is a source of funds for bond payments. It can also be used for lesser capital expenses, such a new trucks, because no distinction is made between capital equipment, which typically lasts 3 - 10 years, and capital improvements, which typically are good for 20 years or longer.

But the charter only goes that far -- it says where the monies are to be 'deposited.' The rest of the charter and state law make it clear that it is up to the Selectboard to establish and use financial devices such as a Capital Reserve Fund. It's not up to Town Meeting, unless the Selectboard decides to put an advisory question on the ballot, or the charter is changed to specify that Town Meeting gets to decide what capital expenses the money gets put to.

That said, there is some other background here that is worth considering.

The Selectboard spent much of the summer and fall working on a prioritized list of major capital projects. The pool was deemed to be far enough down the list that nothing will happen for several years. In other words, seven smart and capable people with a very diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, and skills, all of whom were voted into office by substantial margins, have come to a consensus that when you make a list of all the things that the town needs to do in terms of projects that will last for a generation or more and be paid for with bonds, a new pool is not at the top of the list.

I'm looking forward to Info Night this year, and an opportunity to have the capital improvement priorities and plans put in front of us again. Should be Monday January 7th.


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