Business Views: More work needed on pension reform

Just a year ago, we wrote that the recommendations by the Vermont Pension Benefits, Design and Funding Task Force to fix the retirement systems for state workers and teachers (later included in the pension reform legislation enacted in 2022) did not go far enough. A good start, but not far enough to make the systemic solutions needed for the systems’ sustainability.

As we wrote, one measure to help make the systems sustainable is to conduct more frequent reviews of the systems’ actuarial assumptions.

Business Views: Time to better support nonprofits

For decades, Vermont’s government has relied on nonprofits to provide vital services to communities. This social contract has been eroding with nonprofits increasingly filling the gap in state services while reporting funding for these services has not kept pace with rising costs. Wages and inflation continue to rise, yet many state-funded organizations have not seen their funding increase in years.

Agriculture: Experts warn increased rainfall and trail traffic can cause dangerous erosion

Photo: Bolton bike trail. Photo: Erica Houskeeper.

With mud season in hand, experts warn that Vermonters should stay away from high-elevation trails for now to protect natural areas from erosion and further damage.

“The intensity of the rain events that we get now — particularly in the summer season — has a much higher potential to do severe erosion of the trail tread,” said Keegan Tierney, director of field programs for the Green Mountain Club, a trail protection nonprofit.

Governor names Fitzko as Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Governor Phil Scott has appointed Danielle “Danny” Fitzko as commissioner of the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, effective immediately. Fitzko, who had served as interim commissioner since January, has worked at FPR since 2003, including as director of forests for the past four years. She succeeds Michael Snyder, who served as FPR commissioner for 12 years.

In Bethel, one syrup-making couple wants to return to maple’s roots

Photo: The Proctor maple lab in Jericho in March 2022. Photos courtesy of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets.

Lindsay Aldrich peered into the vat of syrup, getting a noseful of the sweet aroma. 

It was a far trip from her home in Burlington to the sugarhouse in Bethel, where she and Luke Briccetti now gazed at rows of bottled syrup perched up along the windowsills. But they were excited they’d made it.