burlington property taxes

Burlington LP News – October 2005

Burlington LP NEWS

October 2005

Sponsored by
The Burlington Libertarian Party



1. From the Chair
2. Moran Plant, a Historical Landmark?
3. Bar Smokers Shown the Door
4. Resolutions to Cut Retirement Benefits for City Employees
5. Resolution Regarding Burlington Property Taxes
6. 76-78 Cherry Street
7. Burlington Libertarians in Action
8. Libertarian Humor
9. Quote of the Month
10. Letters to the Editor/ Submit an Article


From the chair…

This is our fifth newsletter. We will to provide you notice of current issues facing Burlingtonians, views of other Burlington Libertarians, notices of events of interest, and more.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter. Please feel free to send me your comments, suggestions and your own letters and articles to be included in future issues.

In Liberty,

Jeremy Ryan, Chair
Burlington Libertarian Party
contact me

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Moran Plant, a Historical Landmark?

It was recently announced that the Moran Plant will be considered for historical landmark status. It seems to me that the plan behind this is to make it harder for many of the ideas that the people want for the Moran Plant to happen.

It is very obvious that when asked the majority of people want a public park where the moran plant stands however, Mayor Clavelle and CEDO obviously still want their YMCA deal to go through or something similar. I still hear people pushing for it. This is a way to get it back on the ballot.

I remember when we were asked for suggestions, the comment card itself said that the most popular ideas would not necessarily be the ones put on the ballot. This sent an obvious signal that the board and the mayor will be choosing the choices we vote on. Hopefully, they do not intend to put the YMCA and then list a bunch of unpopular choices so that the YMCA becomes the most logical choice and pushing for the moran plant to be declared a historical landmark would make it that much easier for them.

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Bar Smokers Shown the Door.

It’s now official… no smoking in any public or private bars, restaurants and clubs in the whole state of Vermont. It’s unbelievable to me… The businesses along with their employees and customers cannot even decide on their own whether they want to allow smoking or not. The smokers cannot have one place to go to hang out and smoke… not one. I find this so offensive. It’s oppression of a minority by the majority. As the article states, it’s a different crowd. The state has essentially kicked out the minority and replaced them with the majority. Whether you believe smoking is bad for you or not, you should be upset by this decision. It really attacks the essence of our freedoms. By allowing a nanny-state to prohibit risky behaviors gives the state far more power than they should have over us. I will end with a quote from Marilyn Ferguson…

“So long as we need to control other people, however benign our motives, we are captive to that need. In giving them freedom, we free ourselves.”

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Resolutions to Cut Retirement Benefits for City Employees.

The Board of Finance proposed a resolution to lower the cost to the city of the retirement system for city employees. The resolution, noting that city contributions to the retirement fund jumped from about $1.5 million in fiscal year 2002 to $4.6 million this year and are “still not sufficient to meet the actuarially projected future costs.”

This part was a bit confusing to me… when city employees spoke out about this during the public forums at the city council meeting, they were under the impression that they were promised a certain level of benefits in exchange for lower wages. If the city did in fact promise them these benefits then they do owe it to them… they should weasel out of it. However, as we all should should know that retirement funds to have fluctuation and the economy is still not performing as well as it has in the past, so investments are still generally lower. This is the problem for the city’s retirement fund. However, I believe it’s only temporary. Besides, the retirement fund should generally be invested in safe investments such as bonds… maybe they messed up… and now they want to pass on their promises. It’s seems that the city had plenty of money to give the YMCA last year and they have enough money to go after churches to take their property… you can’t trust a politian I guess.

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Resolution Regarding Burlington Property Taxes.

Coucilors Bushor and Fiermonte introduced a resolution to help with the heavy property tax burden facing Burlington residents. The resolution states that the current procedure that pays much of education costs statewide is “convoluted and not well understood by taxpayers” and asks that the city’s representatives to that state Legislature work to revise the property tax system. The resolution calls for:

  • Having the state – instead of the individual cities and towns – collect the statewide property tax and billing homeowners based on their income.
  • Increasing the income threshold to expand the renter rebate program.
  • Giving Vermont municipalities the authority to impose local sales taxes.

Hmm… I wonder why the city is looking to push the taxing responsibility to the state. Here are my thoughts… first, they would rather have the residents blame the state than them, the city councilors… they don’t want the responsibility and of course they want the state to force the Burlington residents to accept a local sales tax as they know very well the voters voted it down last town meeting day. Interesting indeed.

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76-78 Cherry Street

One of the major topics discussed at the last city council meeting was the 76-78 Cherry Street building which is owned by the Catholic diocese. The Catholic diocese decided they wanted the building to be torn down so they could do something else with the property. However, councilor’s Shannon, Montrell and Perry along with Preservation Burlington wanted to not allow the Catholic Diocese the permit to take down their own building because they believe it has some historic and architectural value.

Councilor Shannon particularly fought the hardest for the now allowing the permit as she herself has purchased and restored an older building as her home and she felt that this building was quite a find architecturally and historically. It’s one of the few surviving homes from the urban renewal.

The following issue arose during the discussion:

The city’s legal department has already spent $25,000 in legal costs and there is no idea of how much more to continue as experts will need to be called in to figure out the options. I could not believe that it $25,000 has already been spent just in the initial stages of this deal. That’s enough to buy our home or what Heavenly and I make in nearly two years. It’s just plain reckless to me.

If the city wins, the city would need to study code requirements and the fact remains that the Catholic diocese does not want to the sell or donate the land to the city. They city would need to take it from them!

The resolution is not economically viable for the city… there is too much public cost, opportunity costs, and there are no limits to the expenses… the resolution calls for whatever funds are necessary, no budget or anything. The money involved could buy 100s of affordable housing units, which are much needed.

It was because of these issues that I believe the resolution was voted down by the majority of the councilors. I congratulate them on a good decision. What place does the city have to be trying to take land from a church… what’s next sending cops to take candy from a baby? Really.

I think that problem governmental people have is that whenever they see something that they like or dislike going on in the city the first thought is to write a resolution… create a law. What about a voluntary discussion without force… what about getting together with others that feel the same way to try to work something out. It seems to me that if the building was really valuable, people would want to get together to save it without having to take it by force and forcing the tax payers to pay for the seizure. I’d also like to mention that at one point the city council kicked the audience out so that they could talk in secret about the issue. This was kind of unusual as usually they do that at the end of the city council meeting for other various legal stuff the city is involved in that they don’t want us to know about. They call these “executive sessions”. I think the city council really abuses this power. It’s supposed to be used for the most sensitive of issues not every meeting so that councilors can protect their reputations from the public. They are simply abusing the power and it’s not right to me.

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Burlington Libertarians in Action… (upcoming events)

  • October 5, 2005, 5PM
    CEDO Open House & Dinner
    Will be held at the CEDO office over City Market.

  • October 15th 2005, starts at 9AM
    FreedomFest 2005
    Click here or go to the following url for more details:

  • October 17, 2005, 4PM
    Speaker: Stephen Moore
    Saint Michael’s College presents Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal speaking on “The Ownership Society”. Moore was founder and president, 1999-2004, of the Club for Growth, a 25,000-member organization dedicated to helping elect free market, tax cutting candidates to Congress. The group raised nearly $22 million for Republican Congressional and Senate candidates in 2003-04. A commentator for Fox TV, Moore has been a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, publishing on Federal budget and tax policy. He is the architect of the flat tax proposed by Dick Armey of Texas. He is the author of four books, including most recently Bullish on Bush: How the Ownership Society Will Make America Stronger. Where: Saint Michael’s College, International Commons building. Costs: Free. More Information: Call 802-654-2536.

  • October 24th 2005, 7PM
    Burlington City Council Meeting
    Will be held at City Hall’s Contois Auditorium. The rent control resolutions will be discussed.

  • October 29, 2005
    VTLP Meeting
    Time and location not certain. Contact Scott Berkey at 802-728-6211 for more information.

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Libertarian Humor…

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Quote of the Month…

“Government cannot make man richer, but it can make him poorer.”

– Ludwig von Mises

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Letters to the editor/ submit an article

For information or to submit news, letters, or articles, contact us .

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Burlington LP News is a publication of the Burlington Libertarian Party, 53 Avenue C, Burlington, VT 05401. All Rights Reserved. Copyright (C) 2005.