Windham – Twenty-five residents filled council chambers for the last council meeting of the year to voice their opinion on council’s plan to repeal the tax credit given to residents that work outside the village. Residents claim council is rushing it through in one month’s time (November council meeting was first time it appeared on the agenda) by holding special meetings to get the required three reads in before acting on it. Several residents questioned what the hurry was and why it was so important to do it now. Another resident questioned the legality of it, since the tax credit was part of a ballot measure that was voted on by the residents 1995.
Six folks voiced complaints against the tax credit repeal. Some stated that the village was punishing those who actually have jobs, rather than attracting industries and creating good jobs in the village. Others stated that if they passed the credit repeal they were doing a disservice to the residents. Nobody voiced support for the measure.
Mayor Rob Donham stated that they need to do something to reduce the budget by $150,000. Next year they are expecting a $150,000 shortfall in revenue, due to cuts in state funding for local government. Council has already considered outsourcing the dispatching for the police department, which is expected to save the village around $80,000 per year. The mayor also said the tax credit repeal has been discussed by council for a year. Council Woman Jena Miranda disagreed; she says it had only been discussed in the last three months. Miranda also disagreed with the Mayor that it is their only option; she claims they need to look at the police department again, to ensure that it is run as efficiently as possible. She, along with other council members, question why a village of only 2000 people needs to spend over $500,000 a year for police protection.
Many claimed the repeal is unfair and the Mayor agreed that it is unfair, but the only alternative is to cut the police force and he would not jeopardize public safety. The mayor claims crime is down in the village because of a solid police force. Others claim crime is down due to a decrease in population and not necessarily the result of the police department. Donham said he would rather pay more knowing his community was a safe place for families.
A vote on the issue was taken with the following results. Sheryl Prem, Scott Garrett, and Phil Snyder voted for the repeal while, Jena Miranda, Rachel Barrett and Deb Blewitt voted against the measure, leaving the mayor to cast the deciding vote repealing the tax credit. The repeal will go into affect April 2013 and if they find it was an unlawful measure they will rescind the action.
Other actions taken by council were: approval of an employee handbook, authorizing the village administrator to estimate a water bill in the event of a water leak repaired in a timely fashion and approval of an increase in licensing and inspection fees for housing.
Windham Village Council meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 pm in council chambers.