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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Town Meeting Resolutions 2014, Non-Binding, But A Local Vote On State Policy

They typically come at the end of the Town Meeting warning, just before "To transact any other business..."

They can be short and to the point, but more typically are long and filled with legalese, including at least a few "whereas" clauses and a "therefore." They usually address issues the town has no power to control, but would like some other entities (often state government) to know how the people feel. They are resolutions, and there are a handful of them on the warnings for Town Meetings around Vermont this week.

Calais may be the winner for most resolutions this year. That town will wrap-up its annual meeting by voting on no less than three non-binding resolutions. The first calls on the Vermont Legislature to strengthen the state's bottle bill:

Shall the Town of Calais strongly encourage our elected officials to strengthen and update Vermont’s Bottle Bill to include water bottles and other beverage containers and use unclaimed deposits to support recycling efforts? It is estimated that updating Vermont’s Bottle Bill to cover additional single-use beverage containers would recycle 96.7 million more bottles and cans each year. In addition, allowing the State, rather than the beverage industry, to retain unclaimed deposits would allow the State to use this money (estimated at over $3 million with an updated Bottle Bill) to support recycling and other conservation programs that might otherwise have to be cut due to budget constraints.

The next article is also directed at state government, encouraging the creation of a public bank:

Whereas the establishment of a Public Bank in Vermont will help towns reduce the local tax burden by offering low cost bonds for public works and a depository for their accounts with competitive interest; Whereas a Public Bank that makes loans and investments in Vermont’s people and our economy will help create jobs, income and economic security for all Vermonters, We call on the State Legislature to create a Public Bank for Vermont that enhances the work of the Vermont Economic Development Authority, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, the Municipal Bond Bank and Vermont chartered community banks and credit unions by accepting deposits from the state and municipal governments and making loan programs available for students, homeowners, municipalities and enterprises to make Vermont economically stable, self-reliant and successful.

The third resolution on the Calais Town Meeting warning is directed at two local school boards. It's an item that has landed on the warning in several towns in the U-32 high school district:

Shall the voters of the Town of Calais adopt the following resolution to protect our children’s privacy and control over their own personal information? Whereas 1. Especially in the digital age, a child’s personal information cannot easily be retracted once shared or seized; and 2. Existing law and school policy provide that individual student information belongs primarily to each student and his/her parents or guardian; and 3. Without consent or strict legal requirement, transferring student records outside the school offensively mocks and effectively denies students’ ownership and privacy interests in their own information; and 4. Protecting our students’ ownership and privacy interests in their own records is a solemn public trust that cannot credibly or effectively be fulfilled without direct, exclusive physical control of those records; and 5. Our school officials have publicly stated that local management of student data is technically feasible without significant cost or operational disruption; and 6. Widely reported data theft, information sharing, cyber attacks, and warrantless data collection threaten the security of student records, especially when pooled with millions of others; Now therefore, be it resolved that the town strongly urges the Calais and U32 school boards to adopt firm policies requiring that all information about individual students be stored only on local school or district premises and not be shared outside school or district staff except 1. By specific vote of the local board for each release, or 2. To the least degree strictly necessary to comply with law, or 3. With the prior written consent of the student/parent/guardian.

After that, the moderator in Calais will entertain a vote to adjourn the meeting, as long as no other items are introduced under other business.

Another resolution that has made a comeback after appearing on several Town Meeting warnings last year is an anti-tar sands resolution. Westmore is one of the towns voting on tar sands this year. Here's how the article appears at the end of Westmore's warning:

TAR SANDS: Shall the voters of the Town of Westmore instruct the Selectboard to enact the following resolution in order to protect the health and safety of people, water bodies and other natural resources in relation to tar sands oil transport through Vermont? WHEREAS, the oil industry plans to convert an aging pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands diluted bitumen through Vermont on its way to Portland, Maine for export; and the Portland Montreal Pipeline intersects many brooks and rivers therefore affecting watersheds throughout the Northeast Kingdom in the event of a spill, BE IT RESOLVED: 1.That the Town opposes the transport of tar sands oil through Vermont, because of the risks that a spill would pose on public health and safety, drinking water, property values, and our wilderness; and 2. That the Town call upon the Governor, Vermont State Legislature and the U.S. State Department to ensure thorough environmental impact reviews of any tar sands-related pipeline proposals, including the health and safety impacts of potential tar sands oil spills.

Is there a resolution on the Town Meeting warning in your town? If so, leave a comment below and let us know how it turns out.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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