Vote To Extend Hard'ack's Property Tax Exemption Nullified
On Election Day, voters in St. Albans Town approved a ballot item extending a property tax exemption for Hard'ack Recreation Area for another five years. But that vote doesn't count, because the town failed to warn an informational meeting on the article prior to the election.
Although a warning about the Australian ballot vote was drafted signed and posted, and an informational meeting properly scheduled, Vermont's Open Meeting Law also specifies that the informational meeting be separately warned 10 days in advance. That's the step that was missed, according to Town Manager Carrie Johnson. And because the town realized the meeting was not warned with 10 days advance notice, the informational meeting was not held prior to the vote. However, since the vote itself had already been warned, the vote was held but the outcome deemed invalid.
Johnson noted the vote will be repeated at Town Meeting, in March. She said Hard'ack Inc.'s property exempt status will not lapse in the interim, so the nonprofit will not have any financial consequences so long as the vote passes in March.
Hard'ack is a unique place. It is a nonprofit, volunteer run, use-by-donation recreation area that includes a ski hill equipped with nearly 700 feet of rope tow, grooming, lights, terrain park features and snowmaking. Because skiing, snowboarding, skating, sliding and the many other recreational opportunities at Hard'ack are all free, donations, volunteers and its tax-exempt status are all important components of keeping the recreation area up and running.