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A Vermont We Can Afford: Urgent Reforms Needed | Ken Wells

3 mins read

The session has come and gone and while some inroads were made in Montpelier this winter and spring there is still a lot of work to do. Let’s review the work list that should be priority one.

Affordability

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How much can the vast majority of Vermonters take? A tax increase on your property of 15%? An impending bill to raise the cost of heating oil by 70 cents? Our local prime property purchased by out of staters while locals cannot afford the massive prices accelerated over the last four years. We are pricing out our native Vermont sons and daughters to the point where many have to choose between food bills or fuel. This cannot sustain for long as many Vermonters are stretched to the limit. That is not the way we should have to live. That has to be priority one for House and Senate members.

EMT, Fireman, Police Force, Border Patrol

They run towards danger for the sake of our citizens. Don’t say there is no money when millions are wasted on junk bills and repeated studies on obvious problems. We spend Vermont tax dollars in this state on too many studies to figure out how to spend more money. What’s more important? Having an EMT rescue you from a crashed vehicle? Fireman saving your house and possessions when it’s totally engulfed in flames? Defending you from various criminals from drug dealers to burglars to thugs? These people save our lives, give them what they want and more importantly what they need.

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Schools

It now costs more to send a student to a Vermont school averaging over $27,000.00 per student. This state has less students than they did decades ago. But with thousands of less students we pay millions more. We have to find a way to pay these educators that does not swamp the average taxpayer.

Teaching our youth is a noble task and I commend anyone who is in the education field. I also believed they should be paid well for their efforts. We have a lot of outstanding teachers in Orleans County. Those educators that believe in our young people and support them in becoming the best learners and best citizens they can be. Those teachers are a prized part of our society. The public should be behind these teachers 100 per cent.

In our area we have been fortunate to have some outstanding schools. United Christian Academy in Newport has paved a solid path of learning since they opened. North Country Union High school is smaller from 1200 students a few decades back to under 700 now and are led by the 2023 State of Vermont Principle of the year Chris Young so it’s clear they are in good hands.

Lake Region UHS has placed among the top ten state schools several times in the last decade, a testament to Andre Messier and his staff and their performance.

The big statewide picture needs some work but in our neck of woods in Orleans County our schools have performed very well.

The price of all services always goes up. Lets just find some ways to fund those needed increases and take more of the burden off local taxpayers.

Cell Service-Wi-Fi

It’s gotten better but if you live in an area where cell service is spotty like I do, you need a booster to get your computer up to full speed you know what I mean. Orleans County has many dead zones to this day. Finish the darn job. Today.

Housing

This affects a very large number of Green Mountain state residents. The average Vermonter makes $33,000.00 a year. The average family makes $67,000.00 a year before taxes. Houses these days average $233,000.00 each and that seems to be a low estimate in 2024. Couple that with mortgage rates up to 9% on a 30 year mortgage and you have the perfect storm. The average Vermonter’s age is 43. That makes it virtually impossible for young people as a whole to afford a new home. Maybe you can find a fixer upper for 150K in the country. The current bill H.687 which is an act 250 reform proposal will further hamper Rural Development and make you find housing in towns, villages or our small cities. Not everyone wants to live in a crowded area. That’s not the type of reform Vermonters need. We have a beautiful state and ideals that generational Vermonters want preserved. They do not want themselves, their children and grandchildren forced out of housing, or jobs or the best schools. The Vermont way of life is worth fighting for.

These five issues are just a few that need immediate attention. We have to start somewhere and start right now.

Thank you for your time,
Ken Wells, Brownington

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