MONTPELIER — Tonight, Montpelier's next mayor John Hollar met with constituents downstairs at the Savoy theater to answer questions about what he will do when he becomes mayor on March 7.
He talked to the crowd of about 30 people about local option taxes, the district energy project, economic development and fixing the city's sagging infrastructure.
Hollar said that he does not support the local option taxes voters will be considering on next Tuesday's ballot.
As mayor, he said, he will work to encourage businesses to setup shop in Montpelier, and that a local sales tax would be a hindrance to that effort.
"I think it's absolutely critical that people feel they can invest their money" in Montpelier, Hollar said.
Rather than setting up a new tax revenue stream to pay for infrastructure improvements, Hollar said, the city ought to be able to pay its bills with the current property tax revenue.
He said the issue for the city is setting budget priorities.
But when asked which budget items he would cut or reduce spending to pay to fix the city's crumbling roads and sidewalks, Hollar didn't offer any specifics.
"I would start by reading the Matrix report," he said referring to a report commissioned by the City Council to evaluate all city departments and services.
Hollar said that the report shows that in virtually every department there are efficiencies to be had.
If however, the voters approve the local option tax ballots items, Hollar said he wouldn't lobby the state legislature to deny the charter change, as is required by state law.
Hollar is also concerned about the district energy project.
While he said he supports the idea of creating a distributed biomass thermal energy heat system, he's not sure the current project will work.
Last week, the city's contractor issued a report showing that the distribution system of underground pipes — the component the city would have to build — is going to cost $937,000 more than the $4 million the city thought it would.
But Hollar hasn't ruled the project dead yet. He said that if it can work, he will work with the City Council and city staff to make it happen.