After 12 years, Barre City Mayor, Thom Lauzon is not seeking re-election and two new candidates are eyeing the open mayor seat in the Granite City.
18 year resident and current Executive Director of Studio Place Arts, Sue Higby, hopes to engage with the community to discuss what they value most.
“People always talk about the former great pride that everyone had about Barre City and so my goal in part is to regain some of that lost pride,” said Higby.
She is running against Lucas Herring, who has been serving on City Council for nearly 7 years.
“One of the major concerns that I hear is the empty store fronts. The other major concern that I hear is the property taxes. So when you can bring in new development, you actually have a grand list that’s growing, and it helps keeps that property tax base down,” said Herring.
One thing both candidates can agree on, is the need to pass the Local Options Tax, something that has been on the ballot the past 2 Town Meeting Days.
“The Local Options Tax has come before the voters multiple times and voters have not supported it,” said Higby.
The tax would add a 1% increase to sales on rooms, meals or alcohol served on location.
“Say you spend $50 dollars in a local restaurant, the 1% is going to be another $.50 cents on your bill, that’s not going to drive away business. What’s going to drive away business is if your street and sidewalks are in disrepair and you’re hitting those pot holes on the way in,” said Herring.
The revenue would go directly toward improving infrastructure.
“A 1% tax on certain purchases here, will be a small burden on people, but not a large burden on Barre City residents,” said Higby.
Some local business owners like Karl Boisvert, don’t want to see their customers taxed any more than they already are.
“It affects my customers because they’re paying,” said Boisvert
Boisvert says, the town needs to find another way to fix the infrastructure without the hiking up the sales tax.
“I want people to come to Barre don’t give them any reason to stay away,” said Boisvert.
According to the Barre City Clerk, the tax would bring more than $200,000 dollars in revenue for infrastructure.