The Vermont Telecommunications Authority has announced a Notice of Grant Funds in the sum of $3.6 million for broadband expansion in Vermont. The purpose of the grants is to extend broadband service availability where it is currently not offered and where no provider has already committed to bring broadband by the end of 2013. Funding for the grants was appropriated by the Legislature in the FY2012-2013 Capital Budget. Awarded projects will be required to provide service with a combined upload and download speed of at least 5 megabits per second. Grants will be available to providers who expand broadband service in Target Communities. Eligible Target Communities for this grant round will be designated shortly by the Agency of Administration. The list of Target Communities is being compiled using data that was collected from providers through Vermont’s Broadband Mapping Initiative. Additional input from providers, who have committed to expand service areas by year-end 2013, completed the picture of which communities will be served in Vermont. The remaining unserved communities will be identified as Target Communities. In the past, the high cost to bring broadband to the state’s last rural pockets has been a disincentive to providers. This round of VTA grants provides substantial incentives that reduce providers’ capital outlays and strengthen the business case to reach last mile homes. VTA Executive Director, Christopher Campbell says of the Notice of Grant Funding, ‘Vermont is closing in on its goal of universal availability of broadband service. These grant funds will target the remaining unserved homes and businesses in the state that are not already included in a funded project.’ The Notice is available on the VTA website. All proposals are due to the VTA by 4:30 pm April, 17, 2012. Projects are to be completed on or before December 31, 2013. Montpelier, Vermont (March 14, 2012) – www.TelecomVT.org(link is external)
US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said today he will oppose a US Postal Service plan to end Saturday mail delivery. ‘ The postmaster general cannot save the Postal Service by ending one of its major competitive advantages. Cutting six-day delivery is not a viable plan for the future. It will lead to a death spiral that will harm rural America while doing very little to improve the financial condition of the Postal Service,’ Sanders said. ‘ Providing fewer services and less quality will cause more customers to seek other options. Rural Americans, businesses, senior citizens and veterans will be hurt by ending Saturday mail,’ Sanders added. The House last year refused to consider a Senate-passed postal reform bill that Sanders helped draft. The Senate measure to modernize the Postal Service would have changed a 2006 congressional requirement that the mail service pre-fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period. That pre-funding requirement is responsible for about 80 percent of the Postal Service’ s financial losses since 2007. ‘ No other government agency, no other corporation in America is burdened with this mandate. This mandate must be lifted,’ Sanders said. Current federal law makes it illegal to end Saturday mail delivery. The Senate-passed bill would have reinforced the ban for two more years. ‘ It is time for Republican leadership in the House to work with the Senate to reform the Postal Service in a way that will not harm rural America and allows the Postal Service to adjust to the digital age without ending Saturday mail delivery,’ Sanders said. ANNAPOLIS, Md., 2.6.2013 ‘ US Sen Bernie Sanders
MVP Health Care,MVP Health Care serves more than 600,000 members across its three-state service area. Its membership is highly concentrated in Vermont and New York, with just 1 percent of its members being insured under New Hampshire policies. MVP has accordingly decided to withdraw from the New Hampshire marketplace in order to concentrate its focus on New York and Vermont. MVP will continue to insure businesses based in Vermont and New York which have locations and employees in New Hampshire. Under New Hampshire law, this withdrawal will be conducted over a period of time commencing with a 180-day notice to members. MVP will be accepting renewals of existing New Hampshire insurance policies during this period, but it will not be offering coverage to new groups. MVP will then handle all of the remaining policy obligations on its New Hampshire insurance policies. MVP in a statement said it has been proud to serve New Hampshire residents and will work with its brokers, customers, and regulators to ensure a smooth transition. About MVP Health Care: Founded in 1983, MVP Health Care is a community-focused, not-forprofit health insurer serving members in the states of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.Through its operating subsidiaries, MVP Health Care provides fully insured and self-funded employer health benefits plans, dental insurance, and ancillary products such as flexiblespending accounts, to more than 613,000 members, with a regional network of 19,000 health care providers, as well as providing access to a national network of more than 500,000 health care providers. For more information, visit www.mvphealthcare.com(link is external), on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mvphealthcare(link is external), and on Twitter at @MVPHealthCare.Source: Schenectady, NY, October 15, 2013’MVP Health Care
by Hilary Niles vtdigger.org Lawmakers are wrestling with how to best spend the state’s limited workforce training money. At issue is whether the money should be used to help people who have jobs increase their skills or to help businesses fill vacancies.The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development is proposing to move the Vermont Training Program and the Workforce Education and Training Fund more toward job creation than job retention and wage growth. The consideration comes as part of broader workforce development strategy in H.852.Currently, some programs are geared toward improving workers’ wages and skill levels, said Rep. Michele Kupersmith, D-South Burlington. Committee members are concerned that the strategy is not solving a problem they’re hearing about from businesses: Unfilled positions.Kupersmith said the state’s limited resources demand more focus.‘We’ve made the decision that the more important policy objective of this limited resource is to fill vacant positions,’ she said.The bill being considered would change some eligibility criteria for businesses participating in workforce training programs. Rather than ‘enhance’ employment opportunities for Vermont residents, businesses must fill new positions with the training program graduates.The ‘new hire’ trigger is meant to set a higher bar for businesses to reach in order to qualify for workforce training grants.Part of the sentiment behind the shift is practical, in that new hires are easier to verify than a business claim that its financial stability is improved by help with workforce training.But ideology is also at work. Rep. Robert Bouchard, R-Colchester, said he thinks businesses need to take more responsibility for their own training needs.‘I find it a stretch to think that the state needs to come in and keep you in business,’ Bouchard said. He said he’s more interested in helping businesses start than helping to keep them afloat.H.852 is a cornerstone of the committee’s stated commitment to workforce development legislation in the 2014 session. In addition to realigning the training programs, the bill would also make changes to the state’s faltering Workforce Development Council and propose new ways to gauge the effectiveness workforce training programs.
Vermont Business Magazine Mayor Miro Weinberger and the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) today announced Burlington’s celebration of National Community Development Week and encouraged local citizens, community agencies, local officials, and the public to join the celebration. This special week, which runs from April 21-26, 2014 provides an opportunity to spotlight the numerous outstanding accomplishments over the past 40 years of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which has benefited thousands of Burlington residents by helping companies grow jobs, expanding access to health and social services, and providing affordable housing. “This funding improves the quality of life for our citizens and our neighborhoods and offers great flexibility and local control,” said Mayor Weinberger. “The CDBG program is a partnership with the federal government that allows Burlington to undertake projects that otherwise would be impossible to fund in the current fiscal environment.”The City of Burlington will have available just over $700,000 for upcoming CDBG projects to benefit Burlingtonians during the coming fiscal year. The CDBG program was enacted into law as part of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. CDBG’s main purpose is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities to low- and moderate-income people. To this day, CDBG remains the principal source of federal funding for use in local communities to create flexible solutions to prevent physical, economic, and social deterioration in lower-income neighborhoods and communities throughout the nation. In Burlington, local citizens serve on an Advisory Board that reviews, selects, and funds appropriate CDBG activities. Local citizens choose local projects to benefit local residents. Last year, more than 13,500 Burlington residents benefitted from CDBG activities.“CDBG is making a difference every day in the lives of many of our vulnerable citizens,” said Marcy Krumbine, CEDO’s Assistant Director for Community Development. “With CDBG funds, we are building a stronger Burlington.”Over the years, the CDBG program has assisted projects that provide affordable housing, economic development and job creation, and service to our vulnerable residents. Examples of successful Burlington projects include:· 1989 – Preserved the affordability of 336 apartments at Northgate in the New North End;· 2000 – Assisted with the merger of two non-profits into the creation of the Community Health Center of Burlington Dental Center;· 2002 – Assisted with the development and opening of City Market, the downtown food co-op;· 2004 – Provided 40 units of environmentally-friendly, mixed-income homes at Waterfront Housing on a former scrap yard in Burlington;· 2007 – Provided a loan for Dealer.com(link is external) to expand and move into its new facility; and· 2012 – Assisted with the development of 36 units of affordable housing at Thayer Commons.“Dealer.com was founded here in Burlington, and we take great pride in our Vermont roots,” said Mike Lane, a co-founder of Dealer.com(link is external). “As we have grown into a billion dollar company, we have done so with the support of CEDO, including assistance with the CDBG grant. We hope to inspire others here and all over about the power and possibilities of the partnerships between local business and government.”Diana Greenough, Community Health Center of Burlington Dental Director, stated: “What would we have done without this startup funding and continued support from CDGB? Because of CDGB, we have a dental home for all community residents! Thank you for helping us help so many in need of these vital services.”“City Market greatly appreciates the CDBG financing during our start-up phase of opening a community owned cooperative grocery store,” said Pat Burns, General Manager of City Market. “The opening of City Market, at a time when there was no downtown supermarket, enabled access to healthy food for the City’s elderly and low- and moderate-income residents. City Market also employs over 200 individuals who all receive above market wages and benefits.”CDBG continues to serve and improve the Burlington community. Examples of upcoming activities that are being proposed include:· Serving 100 Burlington residents with technical assistance, business loans, and entrepreneurial training, resulting in the creation of new jobs and businesses.· Assisting with the renovation of three neighborhood facilities that will benefit 642 people: Dismas House, Safe Harbor Clinic, and Living Well’s Ethan Allen Residence Expansion.· Providing free tax preparation and community integration services to help 1,285 low-income residents (including many with limited English proficiency) increase their self-sufficiency.· Weatherizing six units of affordable housing while providing construction training to 12 low-income high school students in Burlington.· Contributing to the development of the Bright Street Co-op, with 42 new units of housing.The CDBG program is administered nationally by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and locally by CEDO.City of Burlington 4.22.2014
Vermont Business Magazine At the Vermont Ski Areas Association annual meeting at Killington Resort, the state’s resorts celebrated another stellar season with 4,503,269 skier & rider visits, nearly identical to last year’s near-record numbers. The 2013-14 season tally once again ranks Vermont number one in the East and number three in the country, according to preliminary figures from the National Ski Areas Association. The record early start and strong finish to the season were welcome boosts to Vermont’s coffers as well, with November business netting a 13 percent increase in the rooms & meals tax revenue over last year while March posted an 8.5 percent gain. Overall, the winter season generated a 6 percent increase in the rooms & meals tax revenues while matching last year’s strong sales tax revenues, once again highlighting the ski and snowboard industry as a cornerstone of the Vermont economy.“This season was most notable for its record early start and incredibly strong finish,” said VSAA president Parker Riehle. “We had an industry first with nine alpine and three Nordic areas opening a full week before Thanksgiving, owing to ideal snowmaking conditions and Vermont’s immense statewide snowmaking arsenal. After a challenging January, winter storms Electra, Hercules and Vulcan joined forces with an epic Valentine’s Day blizzard to set the stage for another strong season that marks our third-best on record.”Last year, VSAA reported 4,513,041 skier and rider visits, which was the second-best season since VSAA began collecting resort data in 1992 (2000-2001 : 4,579,719 visits). The 10-year average is just under 4.2 million.At the annual gathering, with a record attendance of more than 300 industry members and marketing partners, Tourism Commissioner Megan Smith gave opening remarks and Christina Miranda from Redpoint Marketing PR, Inc. surprised and delighted attendees with her keynote presentation on creating brand evangelists. Retired Smugglers’ Notch president Bob Mulcahy was presented with the Industry Achievement Award and former longtime chairlift inspectors Al Barber and Joe Devenow received Friend of the Industry Awards. The Career Employee Awards were presented to three longtime ski area employees at Okemo Mountain Resort – Larry Abelman, Dan Boyer and Doug Devereux.VSAA also presented its season in review showcasing the industry’s presence at tradeshows, media events and the State House, as well as promotional initiatives that spurred significant increases in earned media, website visits, sales of 5th Grade Passports and participation in the Check In to Win program.Once again, Vermont resorts pulled down several state and national awards for marketing, workplace wellness and environmental excellence:Vermont Travel Industry ConferenceJay Peak Resort: Governor’s SMART Award for Creative Marketing in TourismSmugglers’ Notch Resort: Nancy Illemann Rock – Travel Person of the YearNational Ski Areas AssociationStratton Mountain Resort: Best Overall Safety Program AwardKillington Resort: National Safety Awareness Month Photo Contest WinnerKillington Resort: Conversion Cup FinalistJay Peak Resort: Marketing Award for Best Use of Old School MediaMount Snow Resort: Steve Slivinski, PhatCat Groomer Challenge WinnerVermont Business MagazineOkemo Mountain Resort: Best Places to Work in Vermont AwardVSAA Green Mountain Awards Killington Resort: Greenest Overall Resort in VermontMount Snow Resort: Most Improved Resort OverallStratton Mountain Resort: Most Improved Carbon FootprintMount Snow Resort: Most Improved Water ConsumptionStowe Mountain Resort: Most Improved Waste ReductionSki Vermont (Vermont Ski Areas Association)(link is external) is a proud ambassador of the thriving winter tourism industry in Vermont, where the legislature has designated skiing and snowboarding as the official state sports. Vermont is not only the #1 ski state in the east and third in the US, but also reigns supreme in snowmaking quality and coverage, variety of terrain and historical impact on the sports of skiing and snowboarding – making it one of the most significant ski and ride destinations in the world. Ski Vermont’s mission is to help create a legislative, economic and social environment in which the state’s ski areas can grow and prosper. It serves its 18 Alpine and 31 Nordic member resorts in three major areas: Governmental Affairs, Marketing and Public Affairs.Killington, VT (June 4, 2014) – Vermont Ski Areas Association. Photos: Sugarbush North jam-packed in February (Vermont Business Magazine photo). And pond skimming at Killington in April (Killington photo).
Vermont Business Magazine Attorney General William H Sorrell, the Department of Public Service, and two utilities filed a Petition yesterday in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit challenging a decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). NRC regulations state that the Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust fund (VY trust fund) can be used only for decommissioning expenses. The regulations prohibit using the fund for managing spent nuclear fuel at the site. Nevertheless, the NRC recently approved an exemption from those regulations.“This is a fund that was set up for one purpose—to clean up the Vermont Yankee site,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “The NRC’s own regulations make clear that any other expenses Entergy might be facing, including the costs of managing spent fuel, cannot come out of this fund. The NRC should not have exempted Entergy from those regulations.” Department of Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia agreed: “It is unfortunate that we’ve been unable to gain any traction with the NRC to protect Vermont ratepayers’ interest in this fund, and that we needed to take this step to ensure the ratepayer money—that entirely makes up fund—is protected and appropriately used,” Recchia said. “The NRC has granted unreasonable exemptions, with no due process, and this is a process we hope to fix not only for Vermont, but for other states that we believe will experience the same treatment without court intervention,” he added. The Petition was also joined by the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation and its current owner, Green Mountain Power Corporation. The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation is the previous owner of the Vermont Yankee plant. It collected the principal funds that (with interest) constitute the entirety of the VY trust fund. Green Mountain Power Corporation, and through it their Vermont ratepayers, have a 55% interest in all monies that remain in that fund following completion of decommissioning. Thus, as the Petition notes, the NRC’s decision to allow improper uses of the VY trust fund directly harms Vermont ratepayers. The Vermont Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Public Service, and these two utilities also filed a joint letter to the NRC yesterday. The letter requests that the NRC prevent withdrawals from the VY trust fund while the current legal challenge proceeds.Source: Vermont AG 8.14.2015
by Deborah T. Bucknam, Esq Act 46, the new state law which provides for mergers of school districts into larger districts, protects forever all school districts’ present systems whether the district tuitions its students or operates its own school, or a combination of both. The State Board of Education has interpreted Act 46 to mean just the opposite. It has stated: “There is no authority in Act 46 that authorizes a newly formed district/preferred model, to both operate and pay tuition, for the same grade level.” The Board is wrong. Not only does Act 46 allow school districts to retain their present systems, the Act prohibits the Board from disapproving a merger plan because each member district keeps its present system of educating its children.Act 46 is crystal clear: It protects a school district which tuitions its students even if that district merges with a district which operates its own schools. School districts cannot be forced to change their system when they merge with other districts. The Act is mandatory. It states that any merger “shall preserve the ability of a district” to retain its present system and “shall not require the district to limit the options available to students if it ceases to exist as a discrete entity and realigns into a supervisory district or union school district.” Every lawyer knows the word “shall” is mandatory. The Act did not provide any leeway for the State Board of Education. Indeed, the drafters of the Act wanted to make sure their requirements were clear, because they reinforced the Act’s mandates by stating: “Nothing in this act shall be construed to restrict or repeal, or to authorize, encourage, or contemplate the restriction or repeal of, the ability of a school district…” to continue to operate its present organizational structure.Therefore, when the districts merge, the old member districts have an absolute right to keep their present governance, and the new mega district cannot change, by majority vote, the member districts’ present system of educating their children.The State Board of Education’s advisory appears to be based on a legal analysis of Act 46 by Legislative Council. That analysis is seriously flawed and would not meet even the basic standard of a first year law school brief. It should not be the basis for a wholesale change in our 150-year-old system of educating Vermont’s children.School districts are being advised by the State Board of Education that they cannot operate schools and pay tuition for the same grade level. The practical effect, which is already happening, is that the smaller districts presently enjoying choice are being advised that they must give up their historic right to educate their students as they see fit, and to conform to the educational structure of the larger, more powerful districts. The fact is, they should be advised that if they currently have school choice, they shall be able to retain school choice. Act 46 blocked this kind of power grab. Westford and Elmore, currently going through the process with larger communities and expected to vote in November are being misinformed. They should be able to take advantage of the financial benefits of their respective mergers, but also to retain their school choice option. Voting yes on the ballot with the wording that is in place now, will throw away school choice that they are entitled to have. It is recognized that two groups of hard working citizens followed a process and came up with ballot items. However, there is too much misinformation from the State Board for voters to make an informed vote without knowing all options, including retaining choice. The State Board of Education is attempting to re-write the law to force these small districts to give up their historic rights. It has no authority to do so under the law. Deborah T Bucknam, Esq is a partner with Bucknam & Black, St. Johnsbury
Vermont Business Magazine General Fund revenues totaled $115.80 million for October versus the monthly target of $116.51 million, -$0.72 million or –0.61% short. The shortfall was due primarily to the “Other” category which fell -$1.19 million below target. Personal Income Taxes of $63.93 million exceeded target by +$0.46 million or +0.72%, while Corporate Income Taxes of $23.14 were essentially on target. The October results caused a small back slide in cumulatively year-to-date General Fund receipts. However, cumulative total of $456.06 million remains above the Y-T-D target by +$4.19 million, or +0.93%. Y-T-D October revenue receipts for FY 2016 exceed the prior year (FY 2015) results by +$21.74 million, or +5.01%.Administration Secretary Justin Johnson said, “The G-Fund performance in October has kept us above the target for the current fiscal year as well as increasing the growth vs the prior fiscal year. I remain encouraged about the year, and the continued growth in Vermont’s economy.”October is the fourth month of FY 2016. The fiscal year revenue targets were adopted by the Vermont Emergency Board on July 27, 2015.The Transportation Fund (TF) dedicated receipts for October, of $23.33 million, exceeded the monthly target by +$0.78 million, or +3.47%, resulting in year to date results of $90.44 million, exceeding the cumulative target by +$0.57 mil-lion, or +0.63%. Compared to the prior fiscal year (FY 2015) the current cumulative results for TF are +$1.33 million, or +1.49% ahead. As predicted, a small amount of Octobers results were continued catch up processing from last month.The Education Fund (EF) receipts were +$17.22 million, or +0.17% ahead of the monthly target of $17.19 million, driven largely by the above target Lottery transfer (+2.76%). The EF cumulative results through October are -$0.75, or –1.17% below the Y-T-D target but, +$1.51 million, or +2.44% ahead of the prior fiscal year (FY 2015).
*World-wide synchronized 5k Fun Run, in partnership with JROTC *State of Vermont Proclamation, Vermont Senate Chamber Kreitzberg ArenaFriday, April 227:00 pm 7:00 pm Shapiro Field HousePresented in conjunction with JROTCs effort to set the Guinness World Record® for participation. Post-race bar-b-que and awards.Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu(link is external)In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Norwich University will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu(link is external). State House, Montpelier **Keynote speaker: General Mark Milley(link is external), Chief of Staff, U.S. ArmyUnveiling of ROTC centennial commemorative plaquePresented by the Todd Lecture Series(link is external) Vermont Business Magazine As the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), Norwich University will celebrate ROTC’s centennial anniversary with the “ROTC Centennial Symposium: Preparing the Next Generation Leaders in a Complex World” April 21-23, 2016. The two-day academic symposium kicks off on Thursday, April 21, at the Vermont Statehouse with a morning event and reading of a State of Vermont proclamation by Governor Peter Shumlin marking the milestone. That evening U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley will deliver a keynote Todd Lecture, which is free and open to the public.On Friday, April 22, a number of other high ranking military and business leaders will engage in classroom conversations and roundtable discussions. An afternoon panel discussion will address “Preparing for the Next Century of ROTC,” which will be moderated by Tom Bowman, Pentagon Reporter for National Public Radio. Friday evening, the symposium concludes with a keynote by Lt. General H.R. McMaster, a leading military futurist.On Saturday, April 23, Norwich will participate in the world-wide synchronized 5K fun run, in partnership with JROTC, which aims to set a Guinness World Record ® for participation; post race festivities include a barbeque and awards.For the full schedule and to register, go to: www.Norwich.edu/ROTC100(link is external)The below events are either open to the public (*), being livestreamed (**).Thursday, April 2110:00 am Plumley ArmorySaturday, April 2311:00 am **Lecture with special guest speaker: Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster(link is external),Deputy Commanding General, Futures/Director, ARCIC