Rutland Votes In Favor Of Term Limits

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(Host)   Rutland City officials are celebrating the fact that both the city and school budgets passed.  

But some of those officials may be less pleased by something else that passed – term limits.  

VPR’s Nina Keck reports.

(Keck) Rutland city residents voted by a more than two-to-one margin to impose ten-year term limits on the mayor and members of the Board of Aldermen.   

Ed Larson, who won election for the first time to the Board of Aldermen, says it’s a good idea.

(Larson) "I think that’s where you get positive new growth ideas."   

(Keck) Rutland resident Roger Louiselle agrees.

(Louiselle) "I think that’s the only way to make a change. Things get stale. So that’s the only way to get some people out that really need to be out – that may be popular but may not be  that  good."

(Keck) While term limits won approval by a wide margin, the city budget was a much closer call. Mayor Christopher Louras says on many of the ballot items, it came down to people’s wallets.

(Louras) "Voters were willing to spend on our infrastructure. They’re willing to pay more taxes if they feel they’re going to get their money’s worth."

(Keck) For instance, they approved an extra $350,000 for street paving and $500,000 for the city’s aging library building. Voters said yes to a $1.3 million bond to renovate the Stafford Technical Center.

But a nearly $5 million bond to upgrade a city park and create a new home for the city’s recreation department and the boys and girls club failed. Proponents said the new facility would help attract younger families and would promote fitness for all ages.  

Rutland resident Gail Moore says it’s a lovely idea – if people could afford it.

(Moore) "We all have dreams but we all have to live in our budget. People are already leaving Vermont because they can’t afford the taxes. So you’re going to tax them some more? That’s not going to encourage them to come to Vermont."

(Keck) Hoping to help cut the budget even more, Rutland voters approved a charter change that will now require any city employees enrolled in Rutland’s municipal health care plan to pay 20 percent of their health care costs.   Officials say they understand the reasoning, but say just how that will play out legally remains unclear.  

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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