LEMP, local tax dominate Ludlow Selectboard meeting

Ludlow Town Hall

LUDLOW, Vt. – On Monday, April 3, the Ludlow Selectboard met to discuss their annual board reorganization, as well as the town’s local emergency management plan, and a local 1% tax option. Appointments to various committees were made, and can be found on the town of Ludlow’s website, www.ludlow.vt.us. It was noted that the entire developmental review board was up for reappointment at the same time, which should not be the case. In order to correct this issue, it was decided that two members would be appointed for three-year terms, two members would be appointed for two-year terms, and one member would be appointed for a single year term, with three-year terms for all appointments thereafter.

Up for discussion next was the town’s local emergency management plan (LEMP), which several community members felt was insufficient in its current form. Ludlow volunteer firefighter Angela Kissell, a candidate for town emergency planner, raised concerns about the need for improvement in Ludlow’s preparedness for winter storms and other emergencies. “I don’t know that there’s any procedures to say what we do if and when a disaster happens, and to be reactive when we know there’s a storm coming versus proactive I think is unfair to the community,” Kissell told the selectboard. Former selectboard chair Bruce Schmidt also voiced questions about the conditions under which the plan is set in motion, and who is involved in creating the plan, saying, “the ambulance coordinator isn’t even on the [emergency planning commission], so maybe we don’t even have the right people on there…how does the plan get enacted? It has to be more than feedback on social media that we start opening up places.” The selectboard tabled the issue, with agreement to discuss who should be involved in the creation and enacting of the LEMP before the next meeting.

The selectboard then signed paperwork authorizing a loan for the purchase of a new ambulance, as approved by the town’s voters last year. The ambulance should be delivered to the town by the end of the month.

Also on the agenda was the discussion of a 1% local tax option. While this tax would need to be put to the town’s voters for final approval, there was discussion about to what the tax could be applied. Selectboard member Robert Brandt explained that the tax option could apply to any combination of alcohol, meals, and short-term rentals, saying “I think that will be very beneficial to the town.” Citizens present at the meeting expressed varying opinions about the costs and benefits of enacting such a tax, with support on both sides of the issue. “The question is how much more are we gouging the hand that feeds us?” said resident Alan Couch, “I don’t think we need another reason to put a wedge between the town and the people who come up here and support us.” Voicing support for the measure, local business owner Glenn Heitsmith noted that, while he had spoken against the local tax option previously, he doesn’t “see that as such a big problem right now.”

“That’s extra money to spend to fix up our infrastructure, maybe build a parking deck or something like that,” Heitsmith said. As a point of order, selectboard member Justin Hyjek noted that, while Killington was the first town to authorize a local tax option, it was also the first town to de-authorize one. Several others present at the meeting voiced concerns ranging from transparency about where the money would go, to the fact that businesses, rather than consumers, would ultimately be eating the cost of the tax. The tax discussion was tabled for review at a later date, with the intention to put out information on local TV informing town residents that it is under consideration.

The Ludlow Selectboard meets on the first Monday of every month at 6 p.m., with alternate meetings on the third Monday of the month, if necessary, in the Heald Auditorium at the Ludlow Town Hall.

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