As an active member of the Manchester / Dorset area community and a person deeply involved with a number of not-for-profit entities, I have had the privilege over the years of working with some of the state’s older, more committed and certainly generous citizens.
Many of these individuals have had a great impact on their local communities in a variety of different ways, and, unfortunately, we may quickly be losing this vital section of Vermont’s population. Not only are we losing their good-natured presence and contributions to our local economy, we are also losing the time and effort they provide – voluntarily – to make Vermont a better place.
So why are we losing these folks?
While I think this problem is influenced by multiple variables, there is no question that Vermont’s deteriorating economic outlook, cost of living, and unreasonable tax landscape are three major drivers of this rapid exodus of older-age residents. I’d also assume that these factors are not encouraging young and middle-age Vermonters to remain in the state as well.
Sure, many retirees head to warmer climates to avoid Vermont’s harsh winters and return for spring, summer, and fall in Vermont. That has been a standard for many for years. However, I am talking about the relocation of their legal primary residence that is stripping our communities of some of our most knowledgeable, wise, and committed residents.
For example, Walter Freed, a former speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives is a longtime Dorset resident who is moving his primary residence to Florida. Freed and his wife, who recently resigned as a Dorset selectperson, have cited the multiplicity of Vermont taxes as the primary reason.
I fear that we are witnessing, before our very eyes, a demographic and locational shift of many of Vermont’s best – both old and young - away from the Green Mountain State for greener pastures.
Campaign for Vermont has recently offered up a variety of sensible solutions to many of Vermont’s greatest challenges. This is a great start, but we need more. We need action on these proposals from those in decision-making positions.
It is time that our elected and appointed officials in Montpelier put away the smoke and mirrors, face some of our most pressing realities, and implement public policy and government programs that attract and retain retirees, limit taxes, lower cost of living numbers, promote business, incite job growth, encourage sound economic development and strong communities, and persuade our best and brightest to stay in Vermont