2013-02-07 / Letters

Northfield’s One- House Roads

TO THE EDITOR: THE NORTHFIELD NEWS

HAVE TO SAY up front that I do not live on a one-house road in Northfield. However, when

I read what the Town/Village are considering and/or planning to do to Class 3 Roads that only go to one resident in Northfield, I as a member of this Community and a Property Owner am concerned.

Your newspaper reported there are 21 onehouse roads and to reclassify them to Class 4 Roads transferring the maintenance of the roads to the Resident/Taxpayer who lives on that road. The end being a savings of “almost a penny” on the tax rate for the Highway Budget.

Wow almost a whole penny while in the meantime the Property Taxpayer who lives on that road will have to pay out of pocket to maintain that road.

Is the Town/Village willing to adjust these people’s property taxes to exclude the Highway Tax? Of course not. However, the value of their property will need to be adjusted and reduced because there will no longer be a “maintained road” going to their residence. In a Fair Market, value of that property that will be a major turn-off to buyers when the property goes up for sale.

So many questions need to be addressed before even considering such a change. First, have the property owners of these 21 roads received any notification that this is being considered so they have an opportunity to be involved in this process? Some may not have the resources to maintain their road by doing it themselves or hiring someone to do it for them. God forbid if there is an emergency at any of these homes and the ambulance/fire/police cannot get to the home because of a road that was once maintained by Northfield’s Highway Department and lives are lost because of it. We all know that seconds and minutes count in an emergency situation. For one, I would feel terrible if a life was lost because of “saving almost a penny on the tax rate”.

Other questions are, out of the 21 one-house roads how many are in the Town and how many in the Village? This needs to be answered because each year these 21 one-house roads along with the other Class 3 roads in Northfield receive State Aid. According to last years budget reports the Village received $14,460 and the Town received $84,000 for the year. We need to know how much State Aid Northfield will be losing if this change occurs.

Has the State of Vermont changed its law on Class 4 Roads? Used to be Class 4 Roads had to be maintain at least once a year by the Towns. Does the Town/Village have any Ordinances or Policies concerning Class 4 Roads in Northfield?

The Town pays $29,000 for Contracted Plowing during the winter months for these 21 one-house roads. Is this the savings of “almost a penny in the highway tax rate”? What has been the savings to the Town/Village since the Highway Department started Contracted Plowing? For one, I have not seen one.

What will be the savings for equipment costs that help take care of these roads? Will we see a decrease of personnel within the Highway Dept? Less work means fewer employees or at least some full-time employees going to part-time.

These are just a sample of questions that need to be addressed by our Select Board and Trustees. This is a very serious topic and needs to be examined very closely and not taken lightly.

LINDA BARROWS

Northfield

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