BENNINGTON - A $3.3 million water bond was rejected by voters at town meeting day.
The article failed with 914 "yes" votes to "1,269" no votes.
The bond would have been to fund a project involving a 750,000 gallon water tank being built on the Southern Vermont College campus along with a pump house and water lines. The college would have paid a portion of the bond and by partnering with the town earn it a priority spot on a state loan program.
"It's not surprising. It was hard to undo the perception that somehow this was to benefit the college. That got out there early on, and I don't think we could undo it," said Town Manager Stuart Hurd. "From our perspective there is a project, we will be back before the voters if not next March certainly by 2018, because we are mandated to do so. So, we'll come back with a project that will address the pressure issues. It won't look like the project today, I don't believe, because the college will be under the gun to address their issues and most likely will do so. It'll cost us more money, the interest rate won't be as attractive, but we'll find a way to do it and we'll get it passed."
Hurd said in the past that the project is to address water pressure issues at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and in the neighborhoods of Crescent Boulevard and Jefferson Heights. The town will be forced to address the issues by the state in a few years, and the college is under pressure to go on municipal water sooner.
Opponents of the project said water rates are high enough as it is and it is not fair for just the rate payers to foot the cost of the bond.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.