If I Had Input For The New Fire/Police Project Committee, How Would I Contact Them?

Because, in fact, I do have relevant input and I’d like to share it with them ASAP.  What is the best way in this town to get contact information to be able to connect with all of the members of a committee (by phone, or email, or whatever medium works for them)?

Comments | 8

  • A few options

    There’s no specific contact listed, but you can find the names of committee members on the town website. 

    I’d imagine a letter or email to the Town Manager would be able to get to them.

    Also, at each Selectboard meeting, they remind everyone that the meetings are open to the public. You could go to the meeting.

    • I have no idea about the

      I have no idea about the information you wish to share with the Selectboard about the P/F project but it might be the kind of thing I was looking for when I posted here on April 27th. I posted here because the SB reads this site and it may be the best way to communicate. When you talk to them here there are also a couple hundred people listening to the conversation. Thus you add some weight to your statement.
      The next best thing, and what you should do as well, is to use citizen time at the beginning of their meetings. You won’t get much out of them but at least you get a few hundred different people who watch the proceedings on television (it gets replayed a couple of times).

      • There should be clearly defined way to comment on the record.

        I agree that public discussion is important.

        As for “the SB reads this site:” what does that mean, anyway? “The Selectboard” is a public body, and as such “the SB” does not read websites or publications, although individual members might. At least one Selectboard member has told me that he rarely looks at ibrattleboro, and that he is not particularly aware of what is discussed here.

        I am not denying the importance of ibrattleboro… I have long been a contributor because I think that ibrattleboro offers a valuable vehicle for discussion. What I am saying, is that no one, so far, has answered Amanda’s inquiry about how she can bring get her comments and concerns to the attention of the Committee.

        That should not be a mystery, and if it is, then there is a problem with our public process. I think that the Selectboard and the Committee would do well to reach out to the public and actively seek input.

        • Chris did

          He answered Amanda’s question correctly. Committees formed by the selectboard are subject to open meeting law. Meetings must be properly warned; if the committee has a standing schedule (e.g., the third monday of the month) that information is available from the town clerk’s office; it may also be posted on the town website. Any citizen can attend, speak, & have his or her comments publicly recorded (proceedings of committee meetings are part of the public record.) For that matter, any reporter can attend & make the proceedings more immediately public.

        • I have posted thoughts on this topic here before

          But I don’t want to operate under the illusion that posting something rather generally in a forum like iBrattleboro means my thoughts will necessarily be seen by the people who are able to take action on them.

          I love iBrattleboro. And I also want to learn how best to contribute my ideas directly, when relevant.

          Thanks for all of the responses.

    • Unless it's something that

      Unless it’s something that has to be kept “secret”, it would be best to share it with the community right here. (You might have ideas the community would embrace, but the committee might not!).

      • I don't mind sharing my ideas

        This is the email I sent to the committee in care of the Town Manager:

        Dear Police/Fire Building Planning Committee Members:

        First, thank you so much for stepping forward to guide this process on the townspeople’s behalf. I am very grateful that you are working together on this.

        I believe strongly that we need to support our fire and police forces with appropriate facilities and equipment, and I am glad we are addressing this long-procrastinated need for updated building facilities.

        However, like many residents, I have grave concerns about the cost of the project and the effect on both individual taxpayers and the town’s already-strained resources. Many people, perhaps the majority of our residents, are already feeling a financial crunch due to economic factors outside of our control. More and more storefronts are empty on Main Street. More and more people are utilizing the food bank, drop-in center, and homeless shelters. More and more people are unemployed or underemployed, on food stamps or other forms of government assistance, and struggling to pay for basic necessities where they once were able to spend more freely. More and more houses are being foreclosed on, and more people are already having difficulty paying their taxes.

        I work for an economist and I have a lot of insight into the long-term economic trajectory that our nation is on. I urge you to assume in your planning that the economy is not going to get easier or better, there is not going to be any sort of meaningful economic “recovery,” and things are bound to become more and more financially difficult over the next 20 years or more. Unfortunately, there are concrete, irreversible reasons why this is so, and no amount of hope or optimism (which I do believe in having nevertheless) can change the predictable outcome of our current economic situation. It does not end comfortably.

        In planning this project, it is absolutely crucial that we make these plans with the assumption that there will be no financial ease for anyone (not residents or the town itself) for many years to come. Not just the next few years, or the next decade, but decades into the future — the same timeframe in which we’ll be paying for this project. If you would like more information about why this is inevitable, please contact me directly and I will be happy to discuss it in more detail with you.

        Second, I read through all of the initial consultants’ recommendations that were available online, and I understand why this recommendation (of seven, I believe) was chosen. However, I do not understand why this preliminary recommendation was accepted without being sent back for a more in-depth look at different budget options — not just taking the recommendation as it stands, but pursuing further inquiry into pared-down versions of that recommendation. For example, have we asked the consultant to shave (for example) 15% and 30% off the current budget recommendation for the project, itemize the changes that would be reflected, discuss which “corners” we could live without, and help us get a more intentionally frugal picture of the possibilities?

        As a homeowner, I would never accept the first recommendation or project quote I received. If it was not an option to get quotes from multiple sources (and I realize that may not be possible here), I would at least go back to the contractor or consultant and say, “Great; I like your ideas and I agree with you that this would be an ideal total solution. Now, what can be done/cut/changed to make it more affordable to me?” (From all I have seen and read, it does not seem that this step of the due diligence has been done. If it has, please accept my apologizes for my incorrect assumption.) I find it hard to believe that $14.6 million represents only the basic needs being met. We cannot afford to go into this project without a clear understanding of why we cannot shave something off that amount. What percentage of that amount represents “needs” and what percentage represents “wants”? Do we really need to spend $14.6 million, or do we just not want to make the hard distinction between needs and wants, and cut out some of the nonessentials? I do this routinely in my household budget, and perhaps some of you do, too. In tough times, our town must do the same.

        Finally, I just read the transcript of a podcast that makes some very important points that many municipalities fail to take into consideration when planning such projects. I feel we would be doing ourselves a disservice if these ideas were not taken into account in planning this current project. Specifically, we must consider future operating costs in the total financial picture of the project. The true cost of the project is not $14.6 million; it’s that plus whatever the building(s) cost to use each year, and those costs will vary widely based on choices that need to be made right now during the design phase.

        Please note that this podcast was intended for investors, but we taxpayers are making an investment in our community, and the advice is relevant. The example is a school, but the point can be applied to any public building. (Quote is from “Chris Martenson interviews Francis Koster: Deploying Our Investment Capital Locally Yields Better Returns for All” http://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/81857/francis-koster-deploying-our-investment-capital-locally-yields-better-returns-all.)

        Chris Martenson: …All right. We have a local high school. They’re rebuilding it. What they’re doing is what probably every municipality does. They’re trying to save money – you know, keep the cost as low as possible – and they want to optimize and maximize their space. What are they probably missing in that story?

        Francis Koster: Operating costs. Typically, the people who build the building don’t pay for its operating costs. In a school, the single highest expense line item in a budget is salary. The second largest line item is typically energy. Now that includes energy for…air conditioning and so on and so forth.

        The second largest line item of school systems is energy cost. But when the bond issue comes up to build the local school, what they want to do is build the biggest building they can for the cheapest amount of money they can. So they skimp on the insulation. They buy cheap windows. They don’t use an advanced air conditioning system. They use cheap lighting fixtures.

        And so they cut the ribbon on something that looks glorious, but when it comes time to pay the energy bill, it’s a great deal higher than it needs to be. And there have been all kinds of studies done. One in Statesville, North Carolina – in Massachusetts, they went back and looked at the construction costs of school buildings, and found out that by spending an additional 2.5% on the front end of building a building, they earned 100% rate of return on that 2.5% every year for the life of the building.

        Chris Martenson: Wow, 100% rate of return.

        Francis Koster: Every year for the life of the building.

        Chris Martenson: And that’s in direct energy savings, right?

        Francis Koster: In direct energy savings.

        Chris Martenson: So, that means less oil burned, less coal burned, less carbon in the atmosphere…

        Francis Koster: Right. Setting aside all the externalized environmental costs, just as a business –this is where I say we can talk to the right wing and the left wing at the same time – if you go to the school board and say look, I can guarantee 100% rate of return on taxpayer money by being a fiscal conservative, they’ll listen.

        If you go to the other side of the aisle and say look, we want to spend a little bit more building this thing. We’re going to remove air pollution and so on and so forth, they’ll listen.

        I’d find it much easier to accept that $14.6 million price tag if I knew it reflected smart choices about energy use that would save the town money over many years. So in moving forward with this project, please carefully consider the impact of design choices on future operating costs of the building. Oil (and thus propane and electricity) prices are rising and they will continue to rise. Salaries, wages, and the tax base simply cannot keep up with the swell in those prices, not even over many years. If we are going to spend the full amount you are projecting for this project, please spend it wisely and choose designs and systems that rely less on oil and more on things like solar, and that will keep operating costs so low that we will actually realize a return on investment for this project. It can be done, and it’s being done in many communities. For more information, please take a look at Francis Koster’s book on the topic: Discovering the New America: Where Local Communities Are Solving National Problems (2013; ISBN 1482618699).

        Thank you for your time. I am very grateful for your commitment to this project. If you have questions or would like to discuss this further with me, please feel free to contact me.

    • Thank you.

      I found an e-mail address for the town manager’s office and sent it there.

      I wish my schedule allowed me to spend the time attending such meetings, but unfortunately, it’s outside my capacity.

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