Harris v. Town of Waltham

Annotate this Case
 NOTICE:  This opinion is subject to motions for reargument under V.R.A.P. 40
 as well as formal revision before publication in the Vermont Reports.
 Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Vermont Supreme
 Court, 111 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 of any errors in order
 that corrections may be made before this opinion goes to press.


                                 No. 90-328


 Martin S. and Carolyn Harris                 Supreme Court

                                              On Appeal from
      v.                                      Property Valuation and
                                              Review Division

 Town of Waltham                              October Term, 1991


 Wayne W. Potter, Chair

 John B. Kassel and David W.M. Conard of Miller, Eggleston & Rosenberg,
   Ltd., Burlington, for plaintiffs-appellants

 Andrew Jackson, Middlebury, for defendant-appellee


 PRESENT:  Allen, C.J., Gibson, Dooley, Morse and Johnson, JJ.


      DOOLEY, J.   Taxpayers, Martin and Carolyn Harris, appeal from a
 decision of the State Board of Appraisers setting the value of their
 residence and surrounding land in the Town of Waltham for 1989 at $155,400.
 We affirm.
      The Town assessed the taxpayers' residence, outbuildings, and 130
 acres at $98,738 in 1988.  In 1989, the Town conducted a reappraisal because
 assessed values of land and buildings within the Town were substantially
 below fair market values as shown by property transfer tax returns for sales
 in towns in the immediate area.  Land values were increased in accordance
 with a new schedule, and houses were generally increased 60% in value, after
 adjusting for physical changes in particular parcels.
      Taxpayers appealed their 1989 valuation to the Board of Civil
 Authority (BCA).  Their appeal letter stated that their land was overvalued
 as a result of the treatment of a parcel they had recently conveyed.
 Apparently both the parcel that was conveyed and the land they retained was
 valued at $160 per acre.  Taxpayers' position to the BCA was that the most
 valuable portion of their land was the parcel they conveyed and the
 remainder should be valued at less than $160 per acre.  During the BCA
 hearing, the listers explained their position on this claim and also stated
 that taxpayers' land was valued comparably to other land in the town.  The
 BCA rejected the appeal stating: "Appeal denied.  Assessment for land is
 similar to assessments of surrounding land."
      After the BCA hearing, taxpayers obtained the Town appraisal cards for
 other property within the Town and determined that the BCA statement "turned
 out not to be true."  They appealed to the Vermont Board of Appraisers
 stating that the appeal was "based on grounds of comparability."  In the
 Board hearing, they attempted to show that in thirteen respects, listing
 decisions were less favorable to them than to the other landowners.  They
 reduced this to five complaints; all, except one they described as minor,
 dealt with the assessment of the land.  They presented no evidence of fair
 market value, either of their properties or the properties to which they
 compared, and did not claim that their property was listed above fair market
 value.
      Taxpayers raise two issues here:  (1) the BCA failed to state the
 reasons for its decision as required by 32 V.S.A. { 4404(c) and therefore
 the value should remain at 1988 levels; and (2) the Board's findings on the
 fair market values of taxpayers' property and the comparable properties are
 erroneous.  The Board found that taxpayers had waived the first issue they
 raised, although it also concluded that the BCA had not complied with {
 4404(c).  Taxpayers argue that the Board's decision on the violation of {
 4404(c) is correct, but its waiver decision is erroneous.  We conclude that
 the BCA did not violate { 4404(c) and accordingly do not reach the question
 of whether taxpayers waived this issue. (FN1)
      To consider the first issue, a brief history of the statutory require-
 ments, and their interpretation in this Court, is in order.  Until
 recently, { 4404(c) provided in relevant part:
         The board [of civil authority] shall, within ten days
         from the time of the  committee report, certify in
         writing its findings in the premises, and shall file
         such findings with the town clerk who shall thereupon
         record the same in the book wherein the appeal was
         recorded and forthwith notify the appellant in writing
         of the action of such board, by certified mail.  If the
         board does not carry out the requirements of this
         subsection, the grand list of the appellant for the year
         for which appeal is being made shall remain at the
         amount set before the appealed change was made by the
         listers, . . . .

 This Court decided two cases dealing with the statute's requirement that the
 BCA prepare findings.  In Punderson v. Town of Chittenden, 136 Vt. 221, 388 A.2d 373 (1978), where the BCA issued a written decision without stating any
 reasons for the result, this Court held that the decision violated the
 statute because it did "not meet the underlying purpose of indicating to the
 parties, and to an appellate court, what was decided and upon what con-
 siderations."  Id. at 225, 388 A.2d  at 376.  Based on that conclusion, we
 ordered that the sanction specified in { 4404(c) be imposed.
      The second case is Hojaboom v. Town of Swanton, 141 Vt. 43, 442 A.2d 1301 (1982), which involved a number of property tax appeals in the Town of
 Swanton.  In that case, the BCA purported to make findings but they were
 very sketchy and did not address completely the issues raised.  For one
 taxpayer, they said only, "Nice looking property," and "Discussed the land
 value of 140 per front foot a length."  Id. at 48, 442 A.2d  at 1304.  For
 another, the BCA found, "Swamp is poor land," and explained its decision to
 slightly lower the value set by the listers as follows:  "After considerable
 discussion of this and similar land motion was made and passed to do the
 following: 19.84 acre swamp x 400 and 25.02 acres at 651."  Id. at 52, 442 A.2d  at 1306.  We held that the findings were inadequate because they did
 not meet the essential requirement of informing the taxpayer of the reasons
 for the decision.
      Following Hojaboom, the Legislature amended the statute.  In the first
 sentence quoted above, the requirement of "findings in the premises" was
 changed to "notice of decision, with reasons, in the premises."  Where the
 second sentence imposed the sanction if the BCA "does not carry out the
 requirements of this subsection," the new version imposes the sanction only
 if the BCA "does not substantially comply with the requirements of this
 subsection."  There is no question that the Legislature intended to overrule
 Hojaboom and Punderson at least in part.  The sponsor of the amending
 legislation described the intent as changing those decisions stating, "I
 would respectfully submit to the committee that there is not a board of
 civil authority in the state that is capable of satisfying that standard."
 Hearings on H.273 before the Senate Government Operations Comm. 4 (April 15,
 1983) (testimony of Rep. Edward Zuccaro).  This is our first occasion to
 consider { 4404(c) since the amendment.
      The Board in this case quoted Punderson and found that the BCA decision
 did "not provide explanation to the Appellant of how precisely the final
 decision was determined." (FN2) Taxpayers amplify that the BCA failed to state
 how it valued taxpayers' buildings, as opposed to their land; did not
 specifically identify the "surrounding land" or itemize its value; and did
 not determine the fair market value of taxpayers' land.
      Whatever might have been the result under the Punderson standard, we
 conclude that the BCA met the present requirements of { 4404(c). Since the
 taxpayers' sole claim to the BCA was that they had been discriminated
 against compared to certain other named landowners, a determination that
 their assessment "is similar to assessments of surrounding land" is a
 sufficient explanation to comply with the statute.  The BCA simply rejected
 their discrimination claim.
      All of taxpayers' complaints to this Court about the BCA decision
 attack the quality of the decision. (FN4) Their complaints that the BCA failed
 to address the value of their building or to find fair market value are
 unavailing since taxpayers raised no issue about the buildings in the BCA
 and did not attack the listers' determination of fair market value.  The
 other complaints involve the kind of detail that is no longer required after
 the amendments to { 4404(c).
      The requirements of { 4404(c) are technical; taxpayers suffered no
 prejudice from any breach of them.  Taxpayers' rights are fully protected by
 the de novo appeal to the Board.  There is no claim that the reasons given
 by the BCA, however sparse, do not represent its actual determination of the
 issues raised by the taxpayers.  BCA at least substantially complied with
 the statutory requirements.
      Taxpayers second argument is that there is no evidence to support the
 Board's determination of fair market value of their property or the
 comparable properties.  In support of this conclusion, they argue that they
 showed that the Town's land schedule used an impermissible sliding scale
 method of valuation, unrelated to fair market value, and thus overcame the
 presumption of validity of the Town's appraisal.  Because the Town failed to
 support its valuation, taxpayers' claim the appraisal must be overturned.
      Taxpayers' position here is very different from their position before
 the Board.  At the Board hearing, the following exchange took place between
 the chairman and Martin Harris:
         Potter:  Mr. Harris would you, would this property sell
         for $155,000?

         Harris:  That's not the question at hand.

         Q:  Yes it is to us.

         A:  No sir.

         Q:  It is to us. . . .  This is what we have to work on.

         A:  No. There are two grounds on which I can base a
         complaint.  One is, whether [it] is over fair market
         value. . . . And the other is whether it is being
         comparably treated.  All the properties in this town are
         under-appraised.

         Q:  . . . In order to know whether it is over appraised
         or not you first have to find fair market value. . . .

         A:  My complaint is not that this property is assessed
         over fair market value.  My complaint is the second of
         the two complaints which I'm entitled to make that I'm
         not being appraised comparably with other people.

 Taxpayers were correct that property valuation involves a two step process;
 determination of fair market value and equalization.  Vermont Electric Power
 Co. v. Town of Cavendish, No. 91-003, Slip. Op. at 4 (Vt. March 27, 1992).
 Taxpayers conceded fair market value before the Board and based their claims
 solely on equalization.  Having done so, they are in no position here to
 attack the Board's finding of the fair market value of their property.
      Affirmed.
                                         FOR THE COURT:



                                         Associate Justice



FN1.    The dissent argues that we should not reach this issue because the
 town failed to preserve it below and we do not have the benefit of full
 briefing of the issue.  We disagree.
      The town had no opportunity to preserve the issue below because the
 Board announced at the beginning of the hearing that although the BCA
 explanation was inadequate the taxpayers had waived the issue.  Thus, the
 issue had already been decided when the Town filed its proposed findings and
 conclusions stating its position.
      In this Court, the taxpayers fully briefed the issue recognizing that
 they would have to prevail on it to obtain relief.  We have heard "reasoned
 arguments" from the party against whom we decide the question.  The Town
 chose to defend the Board's decision on the grounds stated by the Board, a
 not uncommon situation in cases where we affirm a decision because the
 result is correct even though the reasoning is not.  Further briefing of the
 issue by the Town would not aid our decision or reasoning.
      The dissent suggests a narrow and inappropriate application of the
 "right result, wrong reason" principle that would cause us to reverse
 decisions we know to be correct for no good purpose.  We often decide cases
 on grounds different from those used below with no consideration of whether
 our grounds were argued below.  That result inevitably occurs when we
 overrule a decision of this Court since it was fruitless to present that
 ground to the lower court or agency.  See, e.g., Watker v. Vermont Parole
 Board, 156 Vt. ___, ___, 596 A.2d 1277, 1278 (1991).  Most visibly, it has
 occurred as we have developed state constitutional doctrine using grounds
 and distinctions not predicted by either the trial courts or the parties.
 See, e.g., State v. Wright, 157 Vt. ___, ___, 596 A.2d 925, 925 (1991);
 State v. Brooks, 157 Vt. ___, ___, 601 A.2d 963, 965 (1991).  It would be
 particularly ironic if we were to apply it to property tax appeals where we
 routinely decide cases on issues never raised in the Board of Tax Appeals.
 See, e.g., Vermont Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Town of Cavendish, No. 91-
 003, slip op. at 5 (Vt. April 3, 1992)(Board of Tax Appeals affirmed for the
 right result, based on the wrong reason, with no indication that the Court's
 reason was raised below).
 
FN2.   The dissent argues that we should defer to the Board's determination
 of the BCA's compliance with { 4404(c).  The Board's determination is
 clearly based, however, on the pre-amendment language as applied in
 Punderson.  We do not defer to an agency where its decision is based on an
 erroneous interpretation of statute.  Vermont State Employees' Ass'n v.
 State, 151 Vt. 492, 493, 562 A.2d 1054, 1055 (1989).

FN3.    The dissent also attacks the quality of the BCA decision, neces-
 sarily arguing that { 4404(c) requires not only that the BCA state its
 reasons but also that it have good reasons.  Its citation to a decision
 about the findings of the Board of Tax Appeals, Saufroy v. Town of Danville,
 148 Vt. 624, 538 A.2d 168 (1987), suggests that we should apply to the BCA
 the standards we use for Board findings so we don't have "to speculate on
 how the [BCA] ... reached its conclusion on fair market value."  We doubt
 that a Town of 454 residents, National Survey, Vermont Yearbook 1991-92 at
 498 (1991), whose volunteer citizen Board of Civil Authority hears a pro-
 perty tax appeal and files its decision within an hour of the start of the
 hearing, will ever provide a detailed explanation of its reasoning to meet
 the dissent's standards.  In any event, we have no evidence that the Board
 failed to give a complete statement of its reasons in this case.  Further,
 the sophistication of the BCA's statement matches the sophistication of the
 taxpayers' appeal.  The statute requires that the BCA state its reasons; not
 the reasons that would have been used by a professional body, with the time
 for careful decision-making, and based on a focused and detailed appeal.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                Dissenting
         


 NOTICE:  This opinion is subject to motions for reargument under V.R.A.P. 40
 as well as formal revision before publication in the Vermont Reports.
 Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Vermont Supreme
 Court, 111 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 of any errors in order
 that corrections may be made before this opinion goes to press.


                                 No. 90-328


 Martin S. and Carolyn Harris                 Supreme Court

                                              On Appeal from
      v.                                      Property Valuation and
                                                Review Division

 Town of Waltham                              October Term, 1991


 Wayne W. Potter, Chair

 John B. Kassel and David W.M. Conard of Miller, Eggleston & Rosenberg,
   Ltd., Burlington, for plaintiffs-appellants

 Andrew Jackson, Middlebury, for defendant-appellee


 PRESENT:  Allen, C.J., Gibson, Dooley, Morse and Johnson, JJ.


      ALLEN, C.J., dissenting.   The majority affirms the decision of the
 State Board of Appraisers on the basis of a statutory argument not raised by
 the parties before the Board and not argued here.  Without briefing or oral
 argument the majority interprets the statute in question in a manner that
 ignores its text in favor of a statement by one of its legislative
 proponents.  That interpretation renders 32 V.S.A. { 4404(c) meaningless and
 the work of the Board of Civil Authority (BCA) insignificant because of the
 supposedly curative effect of de novo review by the State Board.  I believe
 that the "curative effect" urged by the majority ignores the very essence of
 { 4404(c) -- to encourage clear and candid decisions by BCAs -- and
 undermines the strong sanction of previous-year valuations for failure to
 comply with its mandates.  Finally, the most troublesome flaw in the
 majority position is that it misconstrues and minimizes the issue of
 discrimination, which lies at the heart of property tax disputes both as to
 initial valuation and equalization.
      We have steadfastly held that claims raised for the first time on
 appeal will not be considered by this Court.  Varnum v. Varnum, 155 Vt. 376,
 382, 586 A.2d 1107, 1110 (1990).  We bend the rule "in extreme and unusual
 circumstances," id., particularly where "fundamental rights and interests
 are at stake."  Id. at 383, 586 A.2d  at 1111.  The issue on which the
 majority decides the present case was not raised below by defendant Town of
 Waltham. (FN1) The State Board announced during the hearing that "the BCA 
 report did not reflect the reasons for the change or the reasons for no change,
 [and] was without reasons."  It was perhaps understandable that the Town did
 not contest the Board's finding that the BCA failed to give reasons, since
 the Board simultaneously announced that taxpayers had waived their rights
 under the statute.  But the Town was on clear notice that taxpayers were
 challenging the Board's waiver finding on appeal and nevertheless failed to
 raise the { 4404(c) issue either at hearing or on appeal.  This Court should
 not do so sua sponte.  See Tallarico v. Brett, 137 Vt. 52, 61, 400 A.2d 959, 965 (1979); Keene v. Willis, 128 Vt. 187, 188, 260 A.2d 371, 372 (1969).
      A principal reason for not considering issues not presented by the
 parties at trial or in their briefs is the great risk of deciding important
 issues without hearing reasoned arguments on both sides of a question,
 especially a novel question.  See Favreau v. Miller, ___ Vt. ___, ___, 591 A.2d 68, 75 (1991) (Dooley, J. dissenting).  As the majority notes, we have
 not had occasion to consider { 4404(c) since it was amended following
 Hojaboom v. Town of Swanton, 141 Vt. 43, 442. A.2d 1301 (1982), and sound
 appellate practice should encourage us to wait until the issue is presented
 before we venture to judgment.  I would await a case in which the effect of
 the legislative changes is briefed and argued.
      I would distinguish what the majority has done in this case from the
 numerous instances in which we affirm a trial court ruling, even though the
 reasoning of the trial court or administrative body is wrong.  In such cases
 the relevant legal issue has been preserved.  It is only the trial court's
 rationale for resolving the issue that we differ with in this class of
 cases.  For example, in Vermont State Colleges Faculty Federation v.
 Vermont State Colleges, 151 Vt. 457, 463, 561 A.2d 417, 421 (1989) the Court
 upheld the Labor Relations Board's affirmance of Vermont Technical College's
 (VTC's) denial of funds for a sabbatical.  The Board had stated as its
 grounds the incorrect conclusion that no evidence had been presented of
 violations of two articles of the labor agreement.  The Court instead
 interpreted the agreement, which was before it, as allowing VTC to grant
 prospective-only sabbaticals.  In Weyerhaeuser Co. v. Town of Hancock, 151
 Vt. 279, 283, 559 A.2d 158, 161 (1989), the issue was whether certain of the
 taxpayer's machines were taxable as real estate.  The Board, erroneously
 applying 32 V.S.A. { 3618, rather than { 3602, concluded that they were.  We
 affirmed because the result would have been the same under { 3602.  Again,
 the legal basis for our decision was properly before us.
      The majority asserts that "[t]he requirements of { 4404(c) are
 technical; the taxpayers suffered no prejudice from any breach of them.  The
 taxpayers' rights are fully protected by the de novo appeal to the Board."
 If the Legislature intended the Board to cure all "technical" omissions by
 BCAs, there would be no need for { 4404(c).  It is clear in the context of
 this statute and others governing the conduct of municipal bodies, that the
 intention of the Legislature is to encourage thorough and timely review for
 all taxpayers, not only for those few who appeal to the Board.  32 V.S.A. {
 4404(c) imposes strictures both as to the time of decision and the inclusion
 of reasons.  What is, or is not, substantial compliance with the statute is
 a question the Board is in a better position to answer than this Court.  The
 tax appeal process before the BCA and the State Board is relatively informal
 and often conducted without the presence of attorneys for either the
 taxpayers or the town.  This Court has in recent years shown deference to
 the Board in tax decisions.  Sondergeld v. Town of Hubbardton, 150 Vt. 565,
 571, 556 A.2d 64, 68 (1988).  The Board is familiar with the quality of the
 "reasons" supplied by BCAs in cases like the present, since it deals with
 vast numbers of tax appeals, only a few of which are appealed and even
 fewer of which raise the question of how well a BCA has performed its
 duties. (FN2) The majority's decision, while purporting to defer to a lay board
 (the BCA), questions the judgment and discretion of the State Board.
      The majority states that the taxpayers' "sole claim" to the BCA was
 that they had been discriminated against, compared to certain other named
 landowners.  The majority concludes that the BCA's explanation that the
 assessment "is similar to assessments of surrounding land" constituted "a
 sufficient explanation to comply with the statute."  On the contrary, under
 either the former version of { 4404(c) or the present one, those words are
 merely tautological and provided no explanation whatever.  A claim of
 discrimination by taxpayers always amounts to an assertion that the
 assessment is dissimilar (or disproportionate) to assessments of
 surrounding, or otherwise comparable, property, either because of an
 inconsistent initial valuation or because of misapplication of the munici-
 pality's equalization ratio.  A contrary assertion does not provide a
 "reason" for the BCA's decision.
      Discrimination is not the most important issue; it is the only issue,
 as our very substantial body of property tax decisions has shown over the
 years.  The guiding statute, 32 V.S.A. { 4467, specifically refers to
 Chapter I, Article 9 of the Vermont Constitution and the Fourteenth
 Amendment to the United States Constitution, because of the role of those
 provisions in combatting State-sponsored discrimination of all kinds.  See,
 e.g., Alexander v. Town of Barton, 152 Vt. 148, 158-160, 565 A.2d 1294,
 1300-01, (1989).  This Court now holds that the BCA meets the standard of
 the statute when it gives no more answer to taxpayers' claim that an
 assessment is dissimilar to assessments of surrounding land, than the
 response, "the assessment is similar to assessments of surrounding land" --
 in other words, "You're wrong." (FN3) In Saufroy v. Town of Danville, 148 Vt.
 624, 625, 538 A.2d 168, 169 (1987), we condemned strikingly similar language
 used by the State Board in its decision in that case based, in part, on the
 Board's skimpy explanation that a comparable property offered by the town
 "defines the general range of the fair market value of the Saufroys'
 property."  We said:
         Beyond a recognition in the findings that there were
         very significant differences between taxpayers' property
         and the comparable property, the Board offers no expla-
         nation how these differences cancel out so that the
         fair market values are identical.  We are left to
         speculate on how the Board reached its conclusion on
         fair market value.

 Id. at 625-26, 538 A.2d  at 169.  See also Roy v. Town of Barnet, 147 Vt.
 551, 551-52, 522 A.2d 225, 226 (1986) (State Board has duty to make clear
 statements so that this Court and the parties will be able to determine how
 decision was reached); Schweitzer v. Town of Pomfret, 134 Vt. 436, 437, 365 A.2d 134, 135 (1976) (Board has duty to make specific findings; to merely
 state that it "checked" the comparable properties constitutes reversible
 error).  While the BCA is not to be held to the same standard of detail as
 the State Board, { 4404(c) requires an explanation of how the result was
 reached.  Here, none was given.
      I am authorized to say that Justice Gibson joins in this dissent.



                                         Chief Justice



FN1.     The majority states that "the taxpayers fully briefed the issue,"
 but that is not the case.  There is no mention anywhere in taxpayers' brief
 of the grounds on which the majority bases its decision.  Taxpayers argued
 simply that the BCA "failed to give adequate reasons for its decision on
 the Harrises' appeal," which argument would have prevailed, according to
 the majority, but for { 4404(c) "as it is currently constructed."  The
 majority's rationale is based entirely on the proposition that the amendment
 to the statute altered the duty of the BCA in a manner that affected the
 outcome of this case -- a proposition that the Town did not raise and the
 taxpayers, contrary to the majority's statement, had no chance to refute.

FN2.    The majority states that "[t]he Board's determination is clearly
 based . . . on the pre-amendment language as applied in Punderson."  The
 Board chairman stated that "the BCA report did not reflect the reasons for
 the change or the reasons for no change, [and] was without reasons."  Only
 the amended version of { 4404(c) speaks of "reasons."  The earlier version
 requires "findings in the premises."  The Board's written decision states,
 "Subsection 4404(c) of VSA Title 32 specifies that the Board of civil
 Authority notice of decision be 'with reasons.'"  It does not cite or rely
 on any pre-amendment cases.

     More importantly, since no reasons whatever were offered, the Board's
 ruling on the BCA should stand under either version of the statute, though
 it seems clear that it was relying upon { 4404(c), as amended.  The
 majority rescues the Town's position by demeaning its capacity:  "We doubt
 that a Town of 454 residents . . . whose volunteer citizen Board of Civil
 Authority hears a property tax appeal and files its decision within an hour
 of the start of the hearing, will ever provide a detailed explanation of its
 reasoning to meet the dissent's standards."  It is the Legislature, not this
 Court, that has directed the Board of Civil Authority to give reasons, and a
 sociological exploration of the BCA's role and abilities is not within our
 charge.

     I do not think, as the majority suggests, that the Legislature mandated
 that the BCA "provide a detailed explanation."  It required only "reasons,"
 and gave the State Board the power to judge whether reasons have been
 provided.  I would simply hold what is clear -- that the BCA did not give
 reasons, detailed or otherwise, and that the Board did not abuse its
 discretion in saying so.
 
FN3.   Just as important as this decision itself will be its effect on
 citizens and citizen boards trying to do their best in an area of the law
 that is inherently difficult, and especially so with statutes that would
 benefit from legislative review and clarification.  Our point is not, as
 characterized by the majority, that { 4404(c) "not only that the BCA state
 its reasons but also that it have good reasons."  We emphasize that the BCA
 gave no reasons -- none, and for this Court to suggest that it did so will
 surely send all the wrong signals to a wide range of administrative boards
 from whom we do not demand eloquence or detail, but from whom we have long
 required reasons on behalf of the people they serve.  This case is not about
 the difference between the standards applicable to the BCA and the State
 Board; it is about construing a mandate that a Vermont state board say
 something, as allowing the board to say nothing.  We have set a standard
 that no board can now possibly fail to meet, but at some cost to the people
 they serve.