They’ll Take N.H.
Vermonters (or a small segment of them, anyway) may be agitating to secede from the union. But even if they got their way, not everyone would want to go with them. In fact, the good people of Killington, a town of about 1,000 near the mountain of the same name, want out of Vermont, not out of the United States. They’d like to live free or die, per the motto of neighboring state New Hampshire. Specifically, they’d like to live free of Vermont’s education funding laws that, town officials say, unfairly redistribute local property taxes throughout the state.
When lobbying for reform of the law failed repeatedly, “the only thing left for us was to try something that would perhaps get [legislators’] attention,” said Board of Selectmen member Norm Holcomb. So the selectmen decided to secede and began drafting “articles of secession” to present at the annual town meeting in 2004. But where would Killington go? “We didn’t feel New York state was appropriate,” Holcomb said. “We felt that would be going in the opposite direction.” They picked New Hampshire instead. The town commissioned an economic study that concluded its taxpayers would save an estimated $7.7 million a year by hightailing it out of the Green Mountain State.
The secession measure passed with more than 60 percent of the vote at the town meeting. After a second vote at the 2005 meeting, a secession delegation met with Vermont legislators and the governor’s staff in Montpelier, a little less than 90 minutes by car from Killington, but made little headway. In the New Hampshire capital, Concord, just 30 minutes farther than Vermont’s capital, lawmakers were more receptive. The New Hampshire legislature formed an official Killington Incorporation Commission, amove that the Vermont legislature had allowed to die in committee.
With no support in the Vermont legislature, everything stalled when the 2005-06 session ended. Holcomb, who is a certified public accountant, says Killington residents still complain about taxes and the schools. But now they’re more interested in changing the property tax law than seceding from the state.
At the town meeting this year, one big initiative had to do with increasing tourism. It proposed $225,000 to market Killington — which Holcomb calls the No. 1 skiing destination in Vermont.
— Rachel Dry