Housing Vermont loses $10,000 a month on Springfield project
In September USDA Rural Development stopped making rental assistance payments to Housing Vermont for a 13-unit subsidized housing project in Springfield because it ran out of money at the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, according to report on the New Yorker blog by Kirk Kardashian, a former freelancer for VTDigger.
Now that the fiscal year has come to a close and the U.S. House Republicans have refused to fund the government into the new fiscal year, there is no predicting when the bloodletting for Housing Vermont, a Burlington-based affordable housing nonprofit, will end.
The $13,000 a month mortgage bills, however, haven’t stopped piling up, Kardashian reports. Low-income residents pay $3,000 a month toward the cost; the rest is made up for by Housing Vermont, which at this point is drawing money from the capital fund to make the payments.
“Hub” Vogelmann, conservationist and researcher, dies
The Associated Press reports that University of Vermont professor Hubert Vogelmann died on Friday. Vogelman was the first researcher to determine that pollution from coal-fired power plants in the Midwest were acidifying soil on Camel’s Hump and causing tree species to decline.
Vogelman was a professor at the university from 1955 to 1991. He led the botany department for 16 years and founded the UVM Field Naturalist program, according to an obituary that appeared in the Burlington Free Press.
Vogelmann co-founded the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which has preserved 183,000 acres of forest and farmland in the state.
A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at Ira Allen Chapel, UVM.
UVM seeks legal advice regarding benefit cuts for Sodexo workers
The University of Vermont is reviewing its contract with Sodexo to determine whether it has any say over the company’s decision to cut health care benefits to food service workers. Sodexo, a dining services vendor for UVM and the Vermont State Colleges, has about 800 employees statewide, 320 of whom work at the university.
Sodexo has redefined full-time employment as an average of 30 hours per week over the course of a year. Employees who don’t meet the new threshold are no longer eligible for medical insurance and stand to lose paid sick days. Many of the company’s employees in Vermont would be affected by the change because fewer workers are needed during the three-month summer break for college students.
On Wednesday, Taylor Dobbs of Vermont Public Radio (a former VTDigger intern) reported that the UVM faculty union and a student group petitioned the president of the university, Thomas Sullivan, to intervene on behalf of the Sodexo employees.
Sullivan said no decision had yet been made on the matter. Richard Cate, UVM’s chief fiscal officer, said in a statement on Thursday that the issues are complex and the university cannot reach a conclusion about what, if any, steps it should take until its legal counsel has review its contract with Sodexo.
The faculty’s demands come a month after UVM professor Philip Baruth sent a letter to Annie Noonan, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, to investigate whether Sodexo had violated labor rules. In a memo to Baruth, Noonan said Sodexo hadn’t done anything illegal.