Tuesday, December 31, 2013

WVTK Local & State News December 31, 2013

Governor Peter Shumlin has a plan to help Vermonters move out of poverty.  He unveiled the project yesterday with five initiatives designed to help those who are homeless or at risk of losing their own homes.  One includes more money for shelters, child care, substance abuse and mental health treatment.  Another includes doubling the amount of money for the Vermont Rental Subsidy program.  Shumlin says it’s all part of his balanced budget which he plans to present to lawmakers sometime in January.

Not as many Vermonters have signed up for new health insurance plans as hoped.  That number, as of December 23rd, was at 52-thousand, about 13-thousand fewer than the state’s goal.  About 29-thousand 200 Vermonters are now insured through their employers on plans offered on the exchange, but with their employers enrolling directly through the carrier.  Many Vermonters who did not sign up in November will see their current plan extended into March 2014.

New York launched the "I [Snowmobile] NY" campaign to promote snowmobiling and other winter sports yesterday.  A press release says the $4.5 million winter tourism campaign will start running print and digital ads on January 1.  There are 10,300 miles of snowmobile trails throughout New York.  Since 2011, the state spent more than $11 million for trail maintenance and development and helped generate $868 million in revenue.

The Rutland Board of Alderman finalized the city budget for next year during a six-hour meeting last night.  Aldermen made a number of cuts trimming the final number down to $19,551,253.  Some of the cuts included planned vehicle purchases, hiring and recruitment bonuses in the police department and a new position in the Department of Public Works.  City officials said the budget would mean a combined water and sewer rate of $8.67, and an increase of over 3-percent to a "typical" water bill.

Maple syrup producers across the area worry that last week’s ice storm damaged trees and tubing and could hurt next year’s yield.  The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association says that growers near the Canadian border were hit hardest by the storm that dropped up to half an inch of ice in some places.  Branches snapped and the tubing that carries the maple sap to the sugarhouse for boiling was damaged in many places.  Syrup is serious business in Vermont, the nation’s number one producer. In 2013, Vermont producers put more than 1.3 million gallons on the table.  The good news is the timing of the storm. Hitting in December gives producers time to make repairs and let damaged trees heal before the sap starts running in the spring.