Vernon residents met Wednesday for a third and final installment of a town meeting that began on Monday evening. The town is grappling with the unknown impact of losing Vermont Yankee, its biggest tax payer and employer.
After lengthy debate Tuesday, voters made deep cuts in the municipal budget and eliminated the town’s police department. The school budget was defeated by Australian ballot. On Wednesday, several people said they had heard that a petition was being drawn up, calling for a vote to restore the police department.
Turnout was heavy at Vernon’s annual meeting Monday night. Voters debated school expenditures until so late in the evening that discussion of the town budget was postponed. The meeting will continue Tuesday evening.
Vernon select board chairwoman Patty O’Donnell said the strong attendance reflects concerns about losing Vermont Yankee, the town’s biggest employer and taxpayer.
O’Donnell said the proposed town budget is down almost $400,000 from last year’s without cutting programs like the town recreation department or police.
A federal inspection of flood prevention measures at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has found several deficiencies but none requiring enforcement action.
A team from Nuclear Regulatory Commission arrived at the reactor last July to conduct the on-site audit. The NRC required the inspections after an earthquake and tsunami crippled several reactors in Japan in 2011.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the team did identify some problems with Yankee's record-keeping and flood-assessment calculations. He said the observations were similar to what NRC teams found at other
The town of Vernon is bracing for the loss of its biggest taxpayer – the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.
Yankee has allowed Vernon to offer amenities and services far beyond the reach of most Vermont communities. Yankee's largess can be seen at the town's elementary school, where the gym is pretty impressive. Seth Deyo, the town’s recreation director, said it’s used a lot.
“It’s an NCAA regulation basketball court,” Deyo said. “We’re fortunate in that it has a great dividing wall so we can actually host two programs at the same time.”
Members of the public will have a chance to comment Tuesday on a new agreement between the state of Vermont and the owners of Vermont Yankee.
The agreement would allow Entergy to operate the nuclear plant for one more year, and it puts Yankee on a faster track for decommissioning.
The Memorandum of Understanding between Entergy and the state was announced Dec. 23, after weeks of closed-door talks. The deal calls for Entergy to contribute $10 million to help the local economy adjust after the plant closes at the end of 2014.
An agreement reached earlier this week between the state and the Entergy Corporation ends years of litigation with the owners of Vermont Yankee.
The deal is likely to speed up the timetable for decommissioning the plant. And it suggests that Entergy is willing to consider the region’s interest in how the Vernon nuclear plant is dismantled. The agreement could also provide a roadmap for how other states deal with nuclear plants that are close to their retirement age.
Entergy’s decision to close the plant in 2014 isn’t an isolated event.