Selectman Jim Haff, known by some as a watchdog over town
spending who helped residents with their tax appeals and brought
attention to nearly $1 million in undesignated funds in the town's
General Fund this year, questioned last Tuesday whether or
not he will run again for a seat on the three-member Select Board
in March of next year.
In an interview a day after the meeting, Haff said he didn't
feel like trying to keep his seat on the three-member Board,
feeling downtrodden after requesting financial prudence from the
town and making little headway.
"I'm tired of sitting on the Board, trying to getting things
done and having people on the Board with dreams," Haff said
Haff said his fellow Board members are focused on making the town a
year-round attraction or offering free education to attract new
residents while he wants to put the town in a better financial
He said his request to level-fund the 2013 budget fell on the
deaf ears of Town Manager Seth Webb.
Haff also argued against spending more for summer tourism out of
the town's savings.
He said Killington Resort's president himself publicly said in
the last few weeks the resort supports year-round tourism but the
priority now is boosting skier visits in the winter months.
"Everything I've done has been for the taxpayer. When can you
remember I've done something to benefit myself?" Haff said.
At Tuesday's two-hour public session for town officials to discuss
putting articles on the ballot for voters to decide the use of
$711,864 undesignated money, Haff also told fellow member Bernie
Rome that he may want to align with his view on how the money
should be presented to voters for approval.
Town Manager Seth Webb presented a plan for undesignated funds
that called for about $108,000 to go toward constructing the town's
gateway at Routes 4 and 100 and beautifying Killington Road.
The plan also called for $313,000 to be designated as a "Rainy
Day Fund" to be used as contingency in case of emergencies or to
cover a budget deficit.
Other funds would go toward replenishing highway capital funds
depleted during Tropical Storm Irene, the fire department capital
fund, an emergency generator for the school and new, upgraded
But because the money wasn't previously used for anything,
voters are required, by law, to dictate how the money will be
specifically used in 2013.
According to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, to be
fiscally prudent, it is wise if Vermont towns maintain 5 percent of
its budget in an undesignated fund balance, known in this case as
the "Rainy Day Fund."
That 5 percent, which would be $192,000 in Killington's case,
would help avoid increases in taxes in the future, if the town has
to spend more or revenue comes in less than expected, according to
Haff, instead, proposed voters be asked to approve a total of
$421,000 (combining both of Webb's proposals) to go toward a
designated reserve fund that would eventually pay off a balloon
payment in 2023 for the town-owned, Green Mountain National Golf
Course, indebted with $5 million.
That loan payment is expected to be about $1.1 million,
according to Haff.
Haff told Rome no one else in his seat would suggest the
"I can guarantee you, you won't see another person support those
payments," Haff said.
There is currently no reserve fund set up for the balloon
payment, but Select Board Chairman Chris Bianchi suggested Tuesday
that $50,000 in annual revenue from the golf course go toward the
In what would be one of his last heated debates with his fellow
Board members, Haff said revenue at the course has been lower than
what was budgeted, and he said, according to audit reports, there's
been a difference between course revenue listed in the budget and
the audit of about $100,000 over the last two years.
Haff also said Wednesday that not having answers to that
discrepancy also worried him.
Bianchi said the town could use the 2012 year-end surplus,
whatever that may be, toward a "golf course debt reserve."
Bianchi suggested a revised proposal, starting at a baseline
$60,000 for the Gateway and Killington Road projects and about
$200,000 for the "Rainy Day Fund."
He also suggested $110,000 of Webb's rainy day proposal sum be
put toward the golf course reserve fund.
The Board will take up the issue again, based on Bianchi's
proposal, at its Jan. 10 meeting.
All articles for the use of undesignated funds under
consideration will go before the voters this March.
Cristina Kumka can be reached at email@example.com or