Proctor board discusses retail sale of cannabis, OKs level-funded budget


PROCTOR — In continuing discussion about whether to allow the retail sale of cannabis in Proctor, the selectboard took up the topic again at its Thursday, Dec. 27 meeting as it decides just what question to pose to voters at the upcoming Town Meeting vote. 

The selectboard previously decided to put the question of whether to opt-in or opt-out to a public vote, and is now pondering which of a couple different paths to take. Some selectboard members were still unsure of what aspects of the law were town or state matters, and just who could authorize retail sales of the product. 

Town Manager Michael Ramsey researched the issue after the meeting and posted some clarifying information on the town website that can be found at That information, provided by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, includes discussion around which of two questions to pose to the public, as well as basic information about the process: “Local voters must vote by Australian ballot at an annual or special meeting to permit the operation of a retail establishment,” the text states. “This provision of S.54 took effect upon passage, and municipalities may now hold local votes if they wish. Municipalities that vote to allow retail operations or permit integrated licenses may rescind that vote at a subsequent annual or special meeting, but all licensed cannabis retailers or integrated licenses that are operating at the time of the subsequent vote will be grandfathered in.” The information discusses the distinction between retail and integrated licenses (tied to medical cannabis) as well as other explanations to help the public understand the issue.

“We’ve been in the fact-finding and discussion stage, so far,” said Town Manager Michael Ramsey, noting that the posted the information on the town website so that residents would have a better understanding of the issue.

Ramsey said he expected the selectboard to make a decision at the next board meeting on Jan. 10 as to which question to pose via Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day.

On another issue, Ramsey noted that the selectboard formally approved of the proposed $1,476,142.56 town budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The General Fund budget as submitted was just $8,730, or less than 1 percent, over the previous year’s budget, while still allowing for staff salaries to increase a modest 3%, give returning lifeguards a cost-of-living raise, and add $5,000 to a municipal fund in preparation for needing a new fire truck in the near future.

Ramsey said he was able to hold the budget to such a small increase because the town had previously opted to bring the water and sewer departments in-house, rather than contract those services to an outside firm as the town had done previously. 


Other business conducted at the meeting included: 

• Ramsey reported that the “No engine brakes” signs have been taken down as drivers enter the town, because of safety issues and the difficulty of enforcing the suggestion.

• Heard a video presentation and suggestion by Stephen Follett, who introduced a declaration of inclusion proposal that the board took under review. Mr. Follett began by saying that over 20 Vermont towns have already expressed support for the statement, which clarifies and embellishes on a statement offers an official welcome to immigrants in their town and the state and rejecting racism and nativism.

Follett noted that Vermont’s populace is “aging and dwindling” and said he believes that immigrants could do a great deal to “revive our economy.” There were no comments offered by the selectboard or people in attendance. Upon a request for approval, board members said it would be prudent to have their “lawyer look at it” and that the “community should review it” before taking any action. 

The motion to approve was tabled until the next meeting on Jan. 10. Ramsey said the board was being prudent in wanting to make sure any statement signed by the board would not obligate the town to do something it could not effectively implement and would not obligate town residents to any unforeseen expenses. 

“Before we sign any statement, ”Ramsey said, “as a town we just need to make sure we know how we’re going to implement our policy and make sure we have the resources necessary.”

• Updated the selectboard on the continuing Willow Street water-sewer project and had proceeded getting easements at three three locations at 1 Gorham Bridge Road and also at #16 and #18 Pleasant Street. 

• Ramsey also reported that the town would likely come in about $57,000 under budget on a shared path from Beaver Pond to the downtown. That’s because cost estimates for removing contaminated soil near the outlet at Beaver Pond was less than expected, even though the soil contaminated and requires hazardous mitigation procedures. He also noted that the Beaver Pond Committee would be applying for a permit to extend the dock by about 10 feet and would be scheduling a fishing tournament for youth this summer.

• Ramsey also noted that state statute requires towns to mail the annual report to every resident, and that an outside audit review of the budget would be included in the packet to residents. 

• Ramsey also noted that new flags have been purchased for the poles located across the street from the town hall in the Main Street Park. These new flags are larger and will be more visible. 

• And Ramsey alerted the selectboard that a hazard plan awareness meeting was scheduled in mid-January, along with a Regional Emergency Management Committee meeting.

• With cold weather finally here, conditions for the opening of the town’s ice skating rink are looking more favorable, with hopes that it will be opening soon. Committee member Judy Frazier also had said that a group from New York City requested that three busses of youngsters from the Greater New York City area have expressed interest in renting the ice rink in mid-January for a skating excursion. The board briefly discussed health concerns due to Covid-19 with the large number of people coming into Proctor from the city, but said it was a matter of what rules to put in place to keep the community safe. Ramsey noted in an interview on Tuesday, that many people from outside the area have asked about renting the rink for skating events and that it was a great way for the town to attract outside interest in the area. 

• The sheriff’s report was accepted, with some discussion about theft in area vehicles left unlocked during the last couple of weeks of December. Area residents were encouraged to lock-up their vehicles if left for long periods in public spaces. 

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