Tuesday, March 4, 2014

WVTK Local & State News March 4, 2014

Today is Town Meeting Day and voters all across Vermont will be making decisions on a number of local issues. In Bristol, Article 19 will create a new zoning district called the Bristol Pond Camp District. In Middlebury there is a number of Articles that are in the spotlight. Article 9 asks voters if the town should replace or renovate town offices and municipal gymnasium. Article 7 is for a $200,000 bond to insulate the attic and replace the roof of the Ilsley Public Library. And Article 8 is for a $500,000 bond to replace the Main Street and Merchants Row Overpass Bridges. While voters in New Haven and Vergennes will be voting on proposed property tax increases and 15 and 14-percent.

Voters in the towns of Cornwall and Shoreham are saying ‘‘no’’ to a plan by Vermont Gas to extend a natural gas pipeline through their communities. In a non-binding vote during Cornwall’s Town Meeting Day last night, voters passed a non-binding resolution to oppose the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project. The vote was 126 to 16 in Cornwall, and 63 to 38 in Shoreham. The towns were voting on plans for a $70 million project would pipe natural gas from Middlebury to the International Paper Mill in Ticonderoga, passing through Cornwall and Shoreham and eventually under Lake Champlain. The state has approved plans to extend pipeline to Middlebury.

A day after Vermont Health Connect announced its online payment system finally works, callers can't reach help over the phone. A message on the Vermont Health Connect number says it is closed for the holiday, Town Meeting Day. The phone line closure comes as Vermonters face two more deadlines to sign up for health coverage. Open enrollment ends March 31, but if your old insurance coverage was extended through the end of March, you’ll need to sign up for a plan by March 15. The website's online payment function is working and you can still log on and enroll, and if you run into any problems email Vermont Health Connect.

Vermont lawmakers are reconsidering the bottle bill. Since 1972, Vermonters have been able to redeem a 5-cent deposit for carbonated beverage bottles and a 15-cent deposit for liquor bottles. Some lawmakers think it should be expanded while other lawmakers say it is now longer relevant since the passing of the Universal Recycling Law; which among other things, calls for mandatory recycling of all recyclables by next year. A legislative report last year found the bottle bill costs some $12 million a year. It found elimination of the handling fees would cut much off that cost.

Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley says the new Vergennes Police Department headquarters should be up and running by the end of this week. Movers already started moving furniture to the new location last week. Officials still need to receive a certificate of occupancy, which they hope to get tomorrow. They also still need to move the phone and computer systems.