Representative Town Meeting 2018

RTM 2018

It’s Representative Town Meeting Day in Brattleboro.

Representatives are filing in and getting settled, as are those of us who plan on covering today’s event. I have to say, I’m pretty tired from all the work on the new site, so I especially apologize in advance for spelling errors and such.

Usually, however, as they get into the more interesting debates of the day, this becomes less of a chore and more fun. I’m counting on it today.

One new development – a new seating arrangement is being tried this year. Instead of a rectangular arrangement, it’s a bit more of a circle. Folks are hoping this helps people see and hear better, and possible improve discussions.

They’ll be doing preliminary announcements and such for a while. We’ll pick up when they start discussing and voting on articles.

Comments | 38

  • Quorum and formalities

    They’ve started. They have a quorum. Now reviewing recent losses in the Brattleboro family, including former RTM moderator Tim O’Connor. All are honored for their contributions to the town over many years.

  • Articles 1-5

    (FYI, Article 11 is a ballot issue. Everything else gets voted on by the reps standing to signify an “aye”)

    John Allen kicks things off by admitting some extra folks into the inner sanctum. (Town Manager, attorney, etc.)

    Daims suggests moving Other Business to beginning of meeting, rather than end. It is seconded. Motion fails.

    ARTICLE 1: To act on the Auditors’ reports (Town and Town School District).

    – adopted

    ARTICLE 2: To see if the Town and Town School District will authorize its Selectboard and
    School Directors to employ a certified public accountant or public accountants.

    – adopted

    ARTICLE 3: To see if the Town will ratify, approve and confirm the Selectboard’s appointment of
    a Town and Town School District Clerk for a term of one year.

    – adopted. Hilary Francis appointed.

    ARTICLE 4: To see if the Town will ratify, approve and confirm the Selectboard’s appointment of
    a Town and Town School District Treasurer for a term of one year.

    – adopted. John O’Connor appointed.

    ARTICLE 5: To see if the Town will ratify, approve and confirm the Selectboard’s appointment of
    a Town Attorney for a term of one year.

    – adopted. Fisher & Fisher appointed.

  • Articles 6-9

    ARTICLE 6: To elect two representatives to the Capital Grant Review Board for a term of one
    year from March 26, 2018. Two members will be nominated from the floor.

    – They take nominations. Georges Herzog. Wayne Estey appointed!

    ARTICLE 7: To see if the Town will elect or appoint members to the Town Finance Committee
    for a term of one year from March 26, 2018. Members to be nominated from the floor.

    – Franz Reichsman thanks previous members and suggests new names: Nancy Anderson, Wayne Estey, and Franz R., Avery Schwenk, Scott Smyth, Abbie Sweeney, Elizabeth McLoughlin
    – Michael Hoffman volunteers himself.
    – Meima thanks Franz for his leadership

    – Full slate appointed!

    ARTICLE 8: To elect three Trustees for the Brooks Memorial Library to serve three years. The
    name for consideration for the term 2018-2021 is Adam Franklin-Lyons. The other two people for
    consideration shall be nominated from the floor.

    – Adam Franklin Lyons and (Serca?) Kaufman, Leo Schiff appointed.

    ARTICLE 9: To see if the Town will authorize its Selectboard to borrow money in anticipation of
    taxes, grants and other revenue.

    – So authorized!

  • Article 10 - Selectboard Salaries

    “At this rate we’ll be done by 11 o’clock,” says moderator Lawrin Crispe, to laughs and groans from the members.

    ARTICLE 10: To see what salaries the Town will pay its officers.

    3k for salaries. 5k for chair.

    Kurt Daims – “for you John, I move to amend to increase to $20/25k for chair.” There is a second. Daims says it’s a big job, and an old salary, requiring more than attending meetings, more public service than required (and picking up some RTM slack), and they are overworked. Public service not diminished by taking the money. People of lesser means could consider serving.

    Maya Hasagawa – we did a study of this a couple of years ago. We are paid more than anyone else, including Burlington. There was a study done.

    R. Meima – that study looked at regain, but we surveyed current and former members and most felt levels were fine. Finance committee web page has the reports. Pretty conclusive investigation, just a year ago.

    D. Schoales – childcare is an issue. Maybe amend that we fund childcare instead of salaries…

    Crispe – not germane to this amendment. Apples and oranges.

    Rusty Sage – we are here to represent, and I’d need to ask my district about an increase this big.

    S. Agave – friendly amendment – increase stipend for sb the same 2.7% that we increase other wages and employees of the Town. (Daims doesn’t accept it…, so it becomes a secondary amendment.)

    D. Bouboulis – have to vote on Daims first, then if voted down, then we can have another…

    Crispe – one amendment on top of another is ok, as long as it is germane, and it does. This is about the amount you want to pay the select board. First vote on Agave’s motion to amend, then Daims motion.

    E. McCloughlin – didn’t we raise them last year to account for childcare?

    Crispe – Childcare is a different topic. We can take it up next.

    G. Carvill moves to cease debate on the Agave amendment. Debate ceases.

    Daims – I thought the amendment to amendment was at my discretion.

    Crispe – no.

    They count votes on ceasing debate of the Agave amendment of increase of 2.7%. 61-19 to cease debate. Now the amendment to amend the primary motion vote. Do we want the 2.7% increase instead of the $20/25k Daims suggested? Agave motion defeated.

    G. Harvey – would have impact on overall budget. Should this issue be warned before being voted on?

    Crispe – the motion is germane. Compensation issue was warned. members can increase or decrease a number.

    Daims amendment vote to increase to $20/25k? very much defeated.

    Salaries set at $3/5k.

  • Article 11 and 12 - The Fire Truck - Part 1

    It’s a ballot item, but discussion is allowed. No amendments allowed. Polls from 10am until 30 min after mtg adjourns.

    Crispe: $950,000 for an aerial ladder truck?

    Agave – I move we suspend rules and discuss articles 11 and 12 simultaneously. There could be multiple outcomes. We’ll debate financing before we know if we’re buying the truck. If we combine these, I give best wishes to moderator.

    Crispe – not debatable, but requires 2/3 to suspend rules. You could suspend to combine debate of article 11 and 12, then we’d do article 12. Caution that we can’t amend Article 11. With that, want to suspend rules and combine debate?

    Rules suspended for the fire truck discussion. 99-3. Here’s the text of articles 11 and 12 under debate:

    ARTICLE 11: To see if the Town will authorize the following capital purchase for the Fire
    Department: The purchase of an aerial ladder truck at an estimated cost of $950,000, and will authorize
    the issuance of notes and/or bonds in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $500,000 at a rate of interest not to exceed 5% per annum for a term of 10 years to pay a portion of the cost of said aerial
    ladder truck. The vote on this article shall be by Australian Ballot as required by law.

    ARTICLE 12: To see if the Town will transfer from the Unassigned General Fund Balance to the
    Capital Fund the sum of $450,000 to pay to that extent part of the cost of the aerial ladder truck for the
    Fire Department.

    K. O’Connor – Selectboard recommends this because our ladder truck ladder is old and ladder doesn’t work. Used one won’t last forever. Buy it this year because it takes a year to prepare. $450k from surplus funding and a $500k bond or loan. Want to spread tax burden over time rather than spike property tax, which we’ve heard people are concerned about. Additional 60k over 10 yr for interest.

    C. Chapman – I have five points. Most vulnerable citizens are not present today to vote – how many live in buildings that need ladder trucks. If our truck was out of service for Wilder of Brooks House we would have lost them and we’d have vacant lots. Finance committee analysis was good and it impacts our economy – buildings need protection. Economic loss of building would be more than a truck. Cheaper to borrow now and interest rates on the rise.

    M. Burke – Yup. 24 years ago we voted for a truck, about 450k. Shortly after there was a fire. Good thing we got it. Postponing this is not wise. Go ahead.

    O. Barber – worries me that right now the ladder doesn’t work. The old one? We have a truck with a working ladder? Phew! It matters if we borrow or pay cash, but we need to order it now. It’s cheaper to borrow now. In favor of bond issue and let’s order this truck.

    M. Hoffman – most want the truck. Financing is issue.

    B. Starr – not always best way to do things to pay with cash. We had issues with Irene and needed cash on hand. We need to bond and borrow when rates are low and we can negotiate best rates, and save money in general fund. We all pay in to save for a crisis. Interest rates won’t stay this low. Current policies and processes indicate raises from the Fed this year. Could hike quickly. Need the ladder truck to rescue people from upper windows. WE need to borrow for it.

    A. Distler – No problem getting truck soon. Do have problem with bond that raises taxes. How vehicles get chosen for general fund purchase vs bonding? If we need it now we have to make hard decisions. Is it an option to pay for it and don’t pay for dump truck and excavator? Swap into general fund?

    K. O’Connor – when we do budget we look at 5 year capital plan. This year we need excavator and dump truck because they need replacement. Up to you if you want to fund those. We think you should. Every year we have choices of which to fund. Wanted the fire truck last year but didn’t get the 950k truck.

    Peter Elwell – re: borrowing. Trying not to borrow for regular equipment and only for major expenses, but this truck is an exception – urgent need and large cost. Should last us 20-25 years, so a 10 year payment period is ok. This helps us keep cash levels where we want to pay for other urgent needs.

    A. Distler – reapply for grant? If that comes through, how does that play out?

    K. O’Connor – if we get it we’d spend it on ….

    Elwell – $475k grant this year. Asking for half as much, with 50-50 sharing by town. If we get it, and you approve borrowing today – you authorize it… we’d use the grant instead of the bond. You’d authorize use of fund balance and borrowing. Grant, then cash, then borrowing is the priority.

    Crispe – polls are open.

  • Article 11 and 12 - The Fire Truck - Part 2

    N. Anderson – we are making more on our investments, now. By earning 30k more than previous years by changing bookkeeping, we’ve helped level taxes. Businesses need to borrow. Homeowners need to borrow. To keep things even.

    ?? – Great Q&A at info meeting. My family was victim of fire. Ladder and water tank made the difference. Until I had an experience like this, I didn”t fully value that people battle fires. We have fires here. Glad we save old buildings. Our family lives by cash, not credit, but to rebuild the house with fire safety features is worth it to borrow.

    Agave – this is an emotional debate. An independent report assessing this is unavailable. We have to trust the fire chief. Try not to make it an emotional decision. How much does a society spend to save someone? I support baiting it, but how do we pay for it. People accept it is a good thing to be in debt. Part of our upbringing. “We should borrow cuz rates are cheaper?” Is it a good thing to be in debt. We use the same argument of rates going up every time. We have bonded many times and paying 363k in interest just this year already. More big projects coming. Is it good to keep adding to our interest? Vote no on borrowing and yes on using surplus. raise the tax rates 4 cents – but then next year we pay in cash and be done with it. Can save 60-80k in interest. When we add debt, banks consider us more of a risk. if anyone asked to add 60k to human services people would object. Money comes from our own pockets.

    M. Williams – thanks to Elwell, volunteers, and finance committee. We voted them in and trust them to serve. They’ve looked at this intensely. Firm believer in trusting those we’ve hired and elected. They’ve looked at this the most and I would accept their recommendation.

    D. Emery – I know the old ladder truck (my new ladder truck in 1991). Before that it was from 1960. Most want to buy it, the question is how to pay for it… do we take the money out now or bond it? We’ll pay the same or more – now or later? What we risk is taking the truck and not passing it now. I encourage voting in favor of 11 and 12. I can tell you about safety and importance. It’s a valuable tool. And we only have one. Needs to happen now.

    S. Copans – I live on edge of Brattleboro and see reduce trucks shooting out to help other towns via mutual aid. They pay for some of our costs, but these towns have fewer volunteers now and help us less. Should we plan for a regional fire department?

    Elwell – for today we’ll take it as advice for later, but doesn’t impact today’s decisions.

    F. Reichsman – Agave’s suggestion to vote down borrowing but in favor of capital fund spending – if we did those two things, it doesn’t determine when truck is purchased. It would put money aside, but not determine when we buy it. This year, to buy in cash, we’d have to vote to increase the total budget later in this mtg.

    G. Carvill – need it this year and need to order it this year. This helps those less fortunate than I am. If we vote down 11, we’re stuck and can’t get a truck this year. I propose an amendment to article 12. Add to 12 that “if 11 fails, authorize SB to pay balance of cost of truck.”

    Crispe – not germane. 12 only deals with transferring funds. 11 only deals with the bond. This motion is for general budget article.

    D. Bouboulis – paying cash is good. People on fixed incomes have trouble with spikes in tax rate, and taxes as is. During Irene our cash reserves meant immediate repairs without borrowing or waiting for FEMA, which can cause those spikes. We did repairs, paid cash, then applied for reimbursements. Without cash reserves… having cash reserves is wise.

    K. Turnas – We have one truck with ladder than doesn’t work and one that does? If we do replace it, what about replacing the old ones?

    K. O’Connor – the non-working truck is old, the working truck is the temporary one without pumper. The old one is gone. The used on from Sharon MA is also old and used.

    T. Franks – If body wants to purchase immediately, we could amend 12 to say $950k (… if article 11 fails…)

    Elwell – That’s correct way to amend. But caution! Having substantial unassigned fund balance is important. This is an expected urgent expense. We need some savings for the unexpected (like Irene, as Dora said). If we buy it all with cash our rainy day fund drops below where we want it. Being a bit below is ok for a year, but to drop a lot is dangerous.

    M. Wheelock – suggest we pass both questions 11 and 12 to get new truck quickly, then when we discuss full budget, I’d support any movement to add four cents to our tax rate for a year to pay in cash. Not compelling the town to borrow by our vote.

    W. Estey – I agree. I’m a professional economist. Interest rates are rising. Fed policy. No accounting standard requires a 10% reserve fund – but it is wise. Good guidelines, but not accounting practice. District 3 has old apartments that could use a ladder truck. Truck absolutely necessary.

    V. Stuart – I agree. Old housing stock in Vermont. SB members have worked hard on this and support their proposal. Good people hired to make these decisions! Trust them and listen to them.

    K. Tewksbury – Truck is needed asap. Not much talk of alternative payment. Two New England values clashing – debt vs higher taxes? I have fixed income. This could be increase of $6/month for me if we do higher taxes.

    motion to cease debate… 73-28 so debate ceases.

    Crispe – shall town transfer 450k for truck?

    It passes!

  • 15 minute recess


  • Thank you!

    Thanks so much Chris!
    I’m unable to watch Or listen right now but I can check in and read your summaries. You’re a life saver!

  • Article 13 - A Skatepark Donation (Part 1)

    ARTICLE 13: To see if the Town will transfer from the Unassigned General Fund Balance the
    sum of $20,000 to the Skatepark Fund toward the construction of the Skatepark at the Living Memorial

    Crispe – Just voting members within the white chains, please.

    E. McLoughlin – Member of skatepark committee. I’d like Jeff Clark, chair, to speak to this.

    J. Clark – been chair for 6 years, on committee for 9 years. Thanks for previous support. 230k is the goal. $46/sq ft. $110k currently. Still have grants out for $9k, plus others coming up to apply for. Just got a Tarrant Foundation 15k grant – all fund from May to June this year will be matched. Could only need 90k after this. We’ve had 67 mtgs since 2013. 7 members. Probably about 1000 hours. Plus efforts outside of meetings. Other parks provide models for fundraising. Some come from events, grants, angel donors. Every quarter since we got Tony Hawk grant we talk – pledges, events, grants, donations, and civic donations. We need to hold more events, get more grants, reach out to angel donors, and ask that Town help as much as possible. Our mission to build with private funds won’t work. Thanks to all. Youth in town are overweight and in poverty. Not a team sport. Can get exercise by oneself.

    M. Bosworth – unconvinced yet. Not against the skatepark at all. I helped in Turners falls to get that one going. But this year with lots of big spending decisions. Don’t necessarily need to make it. Human Resources increases are going to youth services a bit. Unconvinced mode at this point.

    M. White – not all youth are in organized sports, but they deserve safe and legal space to gather, socialize, precise. Why has this taken so long? Misguided reputation of skateboards? Snowboarding used to be like this. Time to add skateboards to the mix to support all youth for a place for them to play, congregate, exercise. They have been patient. Let’s get this done. Now is the time.

    W. Estey – I support the funding and don’t want to complicate by asking for more. Dance halls, bowling lanes – all similar issues. My grandkids love their skatepark, and are protected by straight-edge skateboard kids. Praised for their skills. Snowless snowboarding! 640 million skateboarders in US. Health clubs have fewer members but we have multiple health clubs around Brattleboro. This amounts to .0001% of the budget. There are “no skateboarding” signs all over that cost money to put up. None of the signs allow it.

    S. Linton – I agree. I’d like to increase the amount. It’s taken too long for us to invest in children. Skate community needs representation. When we invest in kids it pays off. Off the streets, engaged. It makes a difference in community. And a financial difference. I say raise it to 30k. If not by this year, we should pay more next year.

    R. Sage – when this first came up, it was said little or no taxpayer cost to this. In 2016 we voted to put money toward this. I was against, but talked to people and found huge support for it. Now I support it. I was going to go more than 30k… we voted for 20k years ago, and now again… 120k is needed. How long is town going to wait and slowly put 10k toward it. My son is 17 and won’t use it. Dragging this out over years (cost going up, we say!) so, put aside the remainder of what needs to be raised. Or a much larger sum. I don’t want to do this again. Friendly amendment to a friendly amendment? A higher amount?

    Crispe – you can vote on Linton’s amendment, and a secondary amendment if it is specific…

    Clark – we are at 110k and need 230. We have the matching 15k grant to get to 30. So, about 60K gap?

    Sage – So increase the 20k to 60k.

    Linton – amends motion to $60k. (some applause there…)

    D. Zak – i had a skateboarder step son, and outside my office window at Richards Insurance bldg. 3-4 kids outside making a lot of noise, but polite. I was worried they’d get hit by a car. Skatepark is safer than random spots. Question – 28% should come from municipality? How much is Brattleboro giving this way?

    Clark – yes, Hawk Foundation suggests muncipal portion is about 28%. 28% of $230k is about $64.4k.

    D. Zak – will these fund help leverage other funds?

    Clark – there are groups that want to put us over the edge when we get close, and others that will fund once shovel in the ground. If we can begin building we can ask for some others.

    E. Todd – Tarrant Foundation – would town amount be considered part of the match?

    Clark – is a concern to raise the other $15k match within time period.

    O. Barber – a bit divided on this. Been through long exercise. What does one penny on tax rate raises?

    Elwell – $115,000

    K. O’Connor – but this comes from unassigned fund balance…

    M. Hasagawa – if we are shooting for $64k, and we gave $20k in past, so subtract it and value of land. Not really excited about taking more from fund balance.

    A. Mnookin – support the $60k amendment. 350 Brattleboro is concerned about climate issues – skateboarding is clean transportation. Move in alternative ways!

    F. Vallario – I have 4 grandkids in Burlington. Up there a lot. They play sports but also love skateboarding. They have new skatepark there on waterfront. Pretty amazing. beautiful! Across from community sailing center. The older aged kids help the younger ones with instructions, error correction. Everyone so kind, and they want to do it. Been on skatepark committee. Take energy coming at you to arrive at your goal.

    R. Byrne – a question – budget for rec department has many facilities listed, and we pay to do maintenance at pool and ice rink. What will likely cost to town for maintaining this park once it is in?

    C. LoLatte – once it is built we’ll use blowers to blow off sand and leaves/trash. Long term it has 25 year lifespan.

    J. Allen – One the board since 2008, and fighting it ever since. If once child is take away from computer and brought outside I think it is worth $100k. This is my last town mtg. How about a present? (laughter).

    R. Tortolani – supporter for 9 years. Calvin Coolideg says you need perseverance. Rare opportunity and do something good. We have the location. Seen the efforts to raise etc money – they need a boost – kids need this. It solves a lot of things. Chance to do something great for community.

    Everingham – how does this impact our reserve fund?

    Crispe – by 40k

    Elwell – we’d be at 9.2 instead of 9.6% reserve.

    Chapman -came to meeting after swallowing hard on all the other expenses, and am willing for 20k, but not willing to go to 60k. Fire truck is life-death issue. We need excavator and dump truck. I like the idea, but can’t… not fair to property tax payers to triple what was proposed. Hope we pass original 20k.

    P. Vandergoss – Bratt not doing so well with jobs and industries. When they decide to come, they look at recreation. A skatepark would be beneficial to the mix.

    G. Harvey – a rare opportunity. Every day in Flat Street near Co-op often see kids on skateboards. I’ve heard frustration that Town has been fooling around on the issue while they grow up. Opiate overdoses in alley nearby. rare opportunity to tell kids they have a future, vs “we don’t care”. $40k will save us more than it costs.

    Summer Burch – when park was announced he was 12 and excited. Now 20 and on the west coats. My daughter is 7… enough fooling around.

    T. Franks – question about land. Donated to skatepark? 5k square feet?

    Elwell – yes donated, but not sure of square footage.

    C. LoLatte – about 5,00 sq feet including parking.

    Elwell – town rec facility at LMP.

    Franks – not opposed, but if community supports this so much, why are we here. Community is not necessarily our tax dollars. Reality is we’ve looked at it for many years, already donated money and land, plus maintenance. We’ve supported it. Where is the rest of the community support?

    M. Atkinson – never thought we’d talk again at RTM. My son was 9 at the time, now 19 in college. The reason it takes so long – part was the location, and part was volunteer efforts take longer. Public good + volunteers takes time. Brattleboro could have motto “think globally act slowly”. Several generations are waiting for this. Land is public park. Taxpayers already paid this money into reserve. So, on 10th anniversary, why not just do it?

    G. Morgan – instead of why are we spending more on this, think we are getting a 239k facility for our time for 80k plus some land… it’s a good bargain, not a huge expenditure.

    F. Reichsman – don’t need a weatherman to see the way the wind blows, but I don’t support drawing down fund balance. Should increase tax rate. Keep reserves at 9.6%.

  • Article 13 - A Skatepark Donation (Part 2)

    ? – we’d drop to 9.2%? To me that is not a significant amount. Only so many can be on teams. Not everyone is an actor. There are a bunch of kids not engaged in those activities, and need to be engaged. Not everyone is a team player. Skateboarding is very popular. My son is now 30 – he likes skateboards. Neighbor likes skateboarding. Kids into drugs might not have an outlet. Not a huge amount of money for a big effect. Even if it helps one teenager… can’t put value on lives of teens. They need outlets. It’s been a long time. Not a huge expenditure.

    Crispe – increase sum by 40k? Motion to cease debate… 88-21 (debate ceases). Vote on Linton Motion next, to raise amount by $40k to $60k. It passes.

    Much rejoicing.

  • Article 13 - A Skatepark Donation (Part 3)

    Crispe – not done yet – the main motion. That the town transfer 60k from unassigned fund balance for skatepark…

    R.Meima – back to whether to find this in reserve fund or add to budget. I’ll vote no and add it to taxes.

    B. Ranquist(?) – I have an 8 year old that wants to skateboard. 9.2% reserve… that assumes article 11 passes? (yes)

    K. White – confuse. Thought it was amended to be $40k, not 60k?

    Crispe – this was for 20K originally, and Linton amended it to be 60k now. Doesn’t include previous amounts.

    Elwell – some years ago RTM gave $20k. That’s in past. Today request to add 20k increased it to 60k.

    K. Tewksbury – if we voted yes on this and fund balance, we could then add a percentage later in meeting to refund the fund balance, to keep it at safe level.

    Chapman – This debate is successful marketing effort by committee. We need skatepark. LMP is not downtown. This has crept from private enterprise to public support. Am willing to allocate 20k and suggest that people who feel strongly write checks themselves. I’d give $500. Just not wise use of our emergency fund.

    D. Bouboulis – people are concerned about raising taxes or drawing down fund balance. Also heard that we need to leverage funds. If this can be leveraged they can reduce what they need from us with matches. Is that the plan?

    Elwell – the plan is evolving today. You could attach a condition that if more than x is raised then town’s contribution could be reduced, or any excess should be set aside for maintenance… or something like that. If you want to retain some control over balance. Not a clear answer, but you could give some direction. Or act on this, then increase budget to manage this in a different way.

    K. Daims – concerned that people would be tempted for unreasonable motivations. Safety? Kids get hurt smashing their heads. They can do drugs. It’s not a cure-all for safety. Doesn’t address cellphone and computer addictions.

    M. Bosworth – need to do this rapidly, but same concerns about unassigned fund balance. I’ll vote against 60k, but if it passes I’ll vote to cover it with taxes, not unassigned fund balance.

    W. Estey – unaware of any accounting practices that say 10% is required. These are made up numbers. Should not be a reason to decide.

    Elwell – no requirement. We have a town guideline of 10%. We try to maintain that, unless good and prudent reason to do it. Best practices for municipal govt – 10% is a low standard to adopt.

    A. Flesher – what would a tax raise be for this if we did it that way?

    (experts use calculators…)

    O’Connor – if 20k from unassigned and 40 from general fund? (yes)

    Elwell – tax rate would be about .35 cents. About $6.50 per taxpayer.

    O. Barber – Reminder about best practices – the best practices are doing exactly what we are doing. We are legislating. We are refining the question so we know what we’re voting on. Compared to Congress, we’re way up here (high)… someone always says something to wake us up if we doze. This is fun!

    J. Maxwell – fan of K. Daims. But, misguided conceptions of fixing things? A border wall, not what we are doing here…

    D. Quipp – conflicted about this. I am president of WVEW – we have to raise money. Human services goes through process to get smaller amounts. Lack of process and oversight concern me… but all are looking for operating costs. This is an addition of a facility to town to improve quality of life. pretty obvious that people in the room increase spending to make project happen. Unclear how it will ver get finished… unless this injection to get behind it and make it happen. Let’s pay out of taxes rather than rainy day fund. I’d happily pay 1/3 of a cent for the skatepark.

    G. Harvey – if we vote in favor, it will happen. Money comes from rainy day fund. If we vote against, but want to inject it later in general budget. No guarantee that it will pass there, or even happen. Are we going to have a skatepark, or not until someday?

    Crispe – I think Article 13 is where to vote for skatepark.

    question is called… ceasing debate passes 91-19. Debate is ceased!

    The $60,000 for the skatepark project from unassigned fund balance?… it passes.

    Much rejoicing.

  • Lunch break

    Crispe – now 12:30, and chair thinks it is a good time for a 1 hour lunch break. Back at 1:30pm.

    • skatepark

      Way to go people with this extra push forward, getting there. I hope the skate park is fast emerging in it’s rightful place, it will be a tremendous asset! I seriously don’t know how you keep up with all the dialogue, great job Chris!!

  • Resuming shortly

    It’s 1:30 pm. Do you know where you reps are?

    We’re back, but they aren’t. Getting close though.

  • Article 14 - Excavator, Roofing/Insulation, and Pick-up Truck

    ARTICLE 14: To see if the Town will transfer from the Unassigned General Fund Balance to the
    Capital Fund the sum of $300,000 for the purpose of purchasing an excavator at an estimated cost of
    $150,000, funding the Gibson-Aiken Center Roofing and Insulation Project at an estimated cost of
    $115,000, and purchasing a 1/2-ton pickup truck at an estimated cost of $35,000.

    1:34 pm

    Crispe – Remember to state your name and district when you speak. Also, we have questionnaires and boxes for them on the way out. Polls open again for voting on Article 11. Back now to business – Article 14.

    T. Carter – Before sidewalk plow comes up. I’m frugal. If there is an issue with the plow, due to skatepark, if town could forego one or two of these vehicles to enable a sidewalk plow?

    Crispe – I think I get the essence – whether or not Town could forego one of these items to pay for sidewalk plow? OK.

    Elwell – Prioritizing you describe – these three items compared to plow? The select board weighed these questions. The reasons they recommend it this way – we see value in second sidewalk plow, but we think that’s the one that can wait another year. We’re still catching up on vehicles and facilities. Never addressing all our capital needs each year. For now, the most urgent needs are the ones here. They are highest priority. Board decided sidewalk plow was important enough for RTM to vote to fund it this year, if they want. If this is approves, we’ll move forward with these three, and you’ll decide later on the sidewalk plow.

    Carter – great that we’ve invested so much in police and fire facilities, and we need it. For those who want sidewalk plow, I want to be able to make sure there nothing is set in stone.

    Crispe – The plow is it’s own item, and you can raise funds in that article.

    M. Bosworth – Regarding Gibson Aiken roofing and insulation, and as Energy Com chair, the energy audit produced detailed roadmap of what to do. Roofing is needed, but insulation is part of recommendations of energy audit proposing insulation. $1900 saving per year. 10 year payback.

    Article 14 adopted.

  • Article 15 - Harris Place Emergency Repairs

    ARTICLE 15: To see if the Town will ratify, confirm and approve the Selectboard’s expenditure
    from the Capital Fund of $118,339.17 for emergency repairs performed on the Harris Place embankment.


  • Article 16 - The DID Assessment

    ARTICLE 16: To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $78,000 through
    special assessments on properties within the Downtown Improvement District (as approved by Town
    Meeting March 19, 2005, and as delineated in the Town Ordinance entitled “Municipal Act to Establish and Regulate the Downtown Improvement District”) to be used for capital and operating costs of projects of the Town’s duly designated downtown organization as reflected in its work plan and budget.


  • Article 17 - Mountain Home Special Assessments

    ARTICLE 17: To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $223,276.48
    through special assessments on property within the “Mountain Home Park Special Benefit Assessment Tax District” (as approved by Town Meeting, March 24, 2007, and as delineated in the Town Ordinance entitled “Municipal Act to Establish and Regulate the Mountain Home Park Special Benefit Assessment Tax District”) for the purpose of paying debt service on the capital improvements to the water and sewer lines serving the Mountain Home and Deepwood Mobile Home Parks.


    (Not much discussion this afternoon, so far. Reps must be digesting…)

  • Article 18 - Human Services

    ARTICLE 18: To see if the Town will raise and appropriate the sum of $146,000 to support
    human service programs and facilities for the residents of Brattleboro to be allocated among service providers in the following manner: Aids Project of Southern Vermont – $2,000; American Red Cross – NH and VT Region – $1,000; Big Brothers Big Sisters – $7,500; Boys & Girls Club – $15,000; Brattleboro Area Adult Day (Gathering Place) – $4,000; Brattleboro Area Hospice – $1,200; Brattleboro Centre for Children – $4,000; Brattleboro Senior Meals – $7,000; Family Garden – $2,500; Green Mountain Crossroads – $3,000; Green Mountain RSVP – $700; Groundworks Collaborative – $20,000; Health Care & Rehabilitation Services – $3,500; KidsPLAYce – $4,000; Meeting Waters-YMCA – $5,000; Senior Solutions – $3,000; Southeastern Vermont Community Action, Inc. (SEVCA) – $12,000; Root Social Justice Center – $5,000; Turning Point – $10,000; Vermont Center for Independent Living – $1,600; Vermont Family Network – $1,500; Visiting Nurse & Hospice of VT & NH – $10,000; Windham County Safe Place Child Advocacy Center and Southeastern Unit for Special Investigations – $1,500; Women’s Freedom Center – $5,000; Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Summer Food Program – $6,000; Youth Services – $10,000.


    M. Casey – Some numbers are getting rather significant, and some are regional support services based in Brattleboro. Can someone tell us what other towns support the larger regional service agencies?

    E. Kornheiser – committee was created so we don’t go through each agency here at the meeting. We accept applications and look at how many residents are served – unique and repeat clients. many go to each other town mtg and ask for funds. We take it into account. This year there is an increase, due to school district and town discussion of increased needs.

    P. Falion – I served on committee early on. What is often missed is the incredible strength that the committees have.. the capabilities of the agencies today are vastly improved. The application process resulted in agencies operating and serving more effectively. Time well spent. Hope it passes.

    A. Fischer – I request amendment that we increase this by $7k to support full request of Women’s Freedom Center (5k more) and Green Mtn Crossroads (2k more). There is an increase of violence against these populations, so increase funding to these agencies.

    A. Davis – All fantastic organizations. More than 2 didn’t get full requested amount. Concern about adjusting amounts at RTM, since committee did the work. There may be other ways to meet those gaps through generosity in community. Concerned about precedent.

    Kornheiser – Women’s Freedom Center is interested in this for a specific reason…

    Donna Macomber – We stand between so many survivors and homelessness. This year we took on a courageous goal to house survivors, 24 hotline, advocacy, and trainings. Applied for and got USDA grant. We need operating costs. Over half the survivors are from Brattleboro. Full 10k would be great.

    HB Lozito – Green Man Crossroads – I didn’t propose increase, but…. we work with LGBQT and work with families in Brattleboro.

    M. Atkinson – I’m on HS Committee, and a fundraiser. We read all applications. All could compellingly speak of their organizations and work. The committee process is to dig into the details, and wish we could fully fund every request. They all do great things. But if you are going to have a committee process, there should be some consideration of the recommendation. All orgs are great.

    J. Southworth – committee work is important. Loathe to go against committee process. We’ve already decided to give 40k for an important organization. Not a fan of process, but we should continue with our process.

    A. Mnookin – I disagree. I hear that we have a committee, but we’re all RTM reps, and we debate the amendments. Not our job just to rubber stamp and approve. Our job is to listen and debate, otherwise there’s no purpose in this day or being here.

    E. McLoughlin – Special reasons and special year for Women’s Freedom Center?

    D. Macomber – When we look at poverty, opioids, survivors, and housing, there is a gaping need… so we purchased another building and increase capacity for housing. It’s increased operating costs significantly. We bring in everyone. Requires overnight staff. Costs have increased this year.

    R. Tortolani – this comes from taxes?

    Elwell – it’s from the general fund, so it is a tax question, unless members specify another source.

    J. Maxwell – advocates for organizations are all great, but other organization might not have known to show up and persuade us today. So there’s a process issue. Everyone should know they could argue for more.

    ? – I’m a teacher and have had WFC folks come to my classroom. Invaluable resource. WE don’t lose when we do this. We’re investing in ourselves and our kids. Just because some aren’t here today, we shouldn’t say no to the two groups today. Money well spent. Not taking away – its adding.

    D. Schoales – I’m a fan of process and clear policies and clear practices, but also see situations when they don’t apply. In this case, these orgs would benefit from more money, and coming to ask for it isn’t unfair. We changed the skatepark based on the will of the room. We should consider them face value, not past practice, of these requests. We need to recognize situations have changed.

    R. Oeser – the chart in annual report on page 13 – there were 10 organizations with reduced requests – did they know they could appeal the reductions here? Organizations have a good case, but should others as well make the case as well? That’s why we have a committee. Needs to be fair for all.

    Kornheiser – We take many things into consideration (lists them). Every year, we debate what our ceiling should be and what this body could stand. Asking for more seemed to be a stretch, but happy today how generous our community is.

    W. Estey – Hard to categorize but looks like 1/3 is going to children’s targets and rest to others.

    S. Linton – When people apply for the grant, we know the process and how to advocate. That people might not understand the process isn’t an accurate picture. I support this amendment. These two organizations – personally impacted by these two organizations. Me and my family have used them and we’re better community members for it. Both have been life-savers for me and others. There are real times right now where black, brown, trans, queers, women are being attacked, raped… right here in our community. When we lift them up, we lift the community.

    K. Turnas – I support the two organizations, but there is also Brattleboro Senior Meals – we put out more meals each day, and had to cut back on weekends. Not a surprise that we get some money from Senior Solutions. We’ll have such a cutback due to federal support for seniors. If everyone wants more, we want more, too, but we have to deal with what we get and then go forward. Volunteer to pack or drive meals. Everyone is deserving. Learn what each organization does.

    H. Burrows – in favor of those who come to ask. $189k total seems low to me. The school board presentation showed families suffering. I’d urge the committee to ask for more.

    E. Todd – We requested funding but not at the level we requested. We work closely with WFC, and we need them. I think this process is the process we directors are given – an application, then RTM. This doesn’t feel like a space to advocate. Never thought to stand up and advocate for my organization. Let’s look at/change HS committee process.

    D. Bouboulis – Lov to give more to all, but HS committee process was set up to save us hours of advocating for specifics. Someone could just as easily stand up to someone speaking against. That could happen if we open it up. We’ve been good to abide by committee recommendations .

    C. Chapman – I agree that we should adhere to process, but each deserves more. I applaud those coming asking for more. People here should dig deep personally and give to these organizations, but can’t support the amendment. We are in a time of scarcity. Whatever we vote for comes out of property tax pockets.

    Question called. Cease debate on amendment to increase? 78-24 So ceased.

    Crispe – back to amendment. Shall HS budget be increased by 7k – 5k to WFC and 2k to GMC? Amendment fails.

    Crispe – back to original article, which I will not read again.

    Daims – body seems concerned about Humans Services and in support of the organizations, but worried about representation of organizations – why not raise overall allotment by 30-50%. Not out of line with charity giving. Brattleboro could be giving more to human services. Increase whole thing to $200k. Distribute proportionally.

    Crispe – amendment to increase by $54k, to $200k?

    O. Barber – the $146k was built from bottom up by organizations making pitches and committee deciding how much to fund. That adds up to $146k. They didn’t divide a chunk of money, right?

    K. O’Connor – we don’t give them any pot of money.

    B. Ranquist – Love this conversation, and that our town supports this. Gives me a lot fo hope. How would it impact taxes if we raised it to $200k? The impact?

    Elwell – less than half a penny – $4.70 per $100k of value.

    M. Atkinson – I love this town and the conversation. The committee gets applications and no guidance as how to spend. We want to support the organizations, but stay aware of taxes. This year is a high year. It fluctuates. What can taxpayers bear? if we had known people would want the budget to be $200k, but our sense was that wasn’t true, and I even felt the increase as is would be too much. Yeah for wanting to go higher, but understand the process is informed by responsibility to taxpayers. Every org that applies also makes a calculation as to what is appropriate. It’s an extensive application. A lengthy process.

    G. Morgan – given the support – a friendly amendment that we suggest fully fund all requests – which would be $37,200. A bit lower. But now $183,200.

    Daims okay with it.

    E. Kornhesier – Interesting. Speaking for myself, not committee, Roberts Rules are hard for community forum, as we can’t ask what we’d like to request next year. We’ll take today under advisement. Quite thrilled at generosity of community. Perhaps not at its process. All of these organizations serve children… Senior Services even. Everything impacts everyone.

    P. MacKinney – I’m against. If we pass the original article, it’s an 18% increase over previous year. Today’s atmosphere is different than other meetings. The original article is fine.

    J. Stahl-Tyler – We have more to consider on the agenda. Anything we add now adds to taxes.

    Elwell – the bulk of what you are considering are general expenses from general revenues, which determines the tax rate. With exception of sidewalk plow, all other items are already in budget. if you approve items as they come along, they wouldn’t add… just this amendment and snow plow.

    K. O’Connor – There are proposals to pay for fire truck in a different way, and if not paid with surplus and is paid with taxes, that’ll impact taxes. Keep it in mind.

    R. Meima – Useful to have a rule of thumb that unassigned fund balance not drop below 10%. Clearly a need for human services contributions. General view that HS should be about $120k, but it is arbitrary. It could be half a million, or 50k? To make this easier in future… committee needs to be empowered and backed up. They worked hard. But why not we from now on say 1% of the general fund balance. More than the ask but less than what is proposed. Could be easier for committee to know what threshold.

    Crispe – good point, but not germane. Could do it under Other Business.

    Anderson – this should have come up before skatepark. Now we are crying poor and can’t do this. We added $40k to skatepark. It could be $1,600 per organization if we divided that up. HS impact outweighs skatepark.

    M. Eaton – thanks committee for hard work. I’ve never gotten what I’ve wanted at budget time. If we go the route I hear us going, we don’t need a committee and just approve organizations requests as is. I think the committee makes a good recommendation and we should vote for it.

    D. Emery – we’re on a slippery slope… the most slippery in years. Overly concerned that if we go back and do each one at a time. Not sure we have concern for taxpayers that committee does. If we want to change it for next year, that’s fine, but we’ve spent a lot fo time on this and should pass it.

    Question called for Daims amendment. Cease debate? Debate ceased, 74-21.

    Vote on increase by 37k? It’s defeated.

    Original motion.. passes!

  • Article 19 - Green Up Vermont

    ARTICLE 19: To see if the Town will raise and appropriate the sum of $300 for the purpose of a
    contribution to Green Up Vermont.

    Schoales -not sure why this isn’t in the budget. But we’ve supported for years and it slipped, so they asked to support it.

    N. Barber – On behalf of the $300 for Green Up – it is an important day, begun in 1972. All of RT 91 was closed off and citizens cleaned up along the highway. Now 46 years later we clean all over. Becky Anderson was coordinator for many years. Connie Burton for last 6+ years has held fundraiser for the effort because the town wasn’t support it. Car wash donation proceeds. Wonderful way for kids to earn community service obligations and earn ski passes from Mt. Snow. Thanks to all!

    D. Bouboulis – The reason this is it’s own thing, it’s not a human service, so it doesn’t really ahem a place. It’s Vermont!


  • Article 20 - Watershed Alliance

    ARTICLE 20: To see if the Town will raise and appropriate the sum of $1,000 for the purpose of
    a contribution to Southern Vermont Watershed Alliance.


  • Article 21 - Brattleboro Sustainability Coalition

    ARTICLE 21: To see if the Town will raise and appropriate a sum not to exceed $10,000 to
    assist in funding Brattleboro Sustainable Energy Coalition.

    M. Bosworth – A year ago this was voted in. Energy committee is in flux. This goes to fund a energy coordinator position. Phoebe Gooding is leaving, so the $10k to support the position may not be a good sustainable structure going forward. Energy committee in flux right now – terms coming up. Several difficult years. Been transitioning from reducing town costs, but not accomplishing a lot. Not sure how to address it. SB voted to have town join VT Climate Pledge Coalition. Other ideas. A little hard to predict how they’ll play out. This might get parceled out in chunks – to hire intern or energy coordinator. Feel worried that if you vote for this it gets spent well. If we can’t come up with good ideas the money would come back to town coffers.

    Elwell – new moment of transition we’re in. The article is “not to exceed” so we can spend up to $10k, and you are on notice that it may or may not spend it all. Or at all.

    A. Mnookin – this is what I’m most passionate about. Voters voted for article 2 and bold climate action now. It included an energy coordinator role to help accomplish tasks. This is not the time to Not spend it. I’m hoping we get a full time position next year. So maybe 10k is not enough, but hope we find someone can get us on a path to bold action, and show us as a leader.

    A. Fischer – town needs to value climate change differently. Position should be within town government, not outside organization. And give them the power. Volunteers shouldn’t manage that position.

    M. Eaton – I urge support for he flexible $10k for part time help in the coming year.

    T. Franks – Fully support full time energy position, and oppose the motion. The 10k investment right now won’t serve well. The bad is enemy of the perfect. The structure of having an energy coordinator working for a volunteer committee isn’t working. 350Brattleboro efforts encouraging a staff position would serve us much better. Better of not spending it. Vote against it.

    M. Burke – Vote for it. Hard to get money for this work. Not putting it in budget worries me. Might not get spent, but something might come up. We do need town funded position. Vote for this.

    K. White – Agree with Molly and Peter – could be useful, but not be spent. Let’s vote for it now, and later a town position.

    E. Kornheiser – Support climate change, but since there are no plans for the money… what’s the plan?

    Elwell – I’m concerned that 10k funding to big picture is a bit much right now. We provided a detailed report of ideas for energy coordination and varying models. We think a sustainability officer could be very valuable. It didn’t rise to priority this year, but it is a conversation to have, and this year. To go further right now… we need more work. Consider what you heard and consider 10k for this purpose for now.

    S. Agave – After several years of seeing Town Manager at work, I have confidence that this amount of money will be money well spent for the interest of the Town.

    D. Bouboulis – Still concerned that we 10k funding a nebulous thing that might or might not happen. I understand a placeholder, but it our job to direct funds to something specific. Real concerns that it is not. Needs to be directed.

    Elwell – a clarification – it’s your decision, but… when we prepared budget, we didn’t anticipate resignation. It was same as last year. Now we are in flux, so exercise best judgement.

    Question is called to cease debate. Debate be ceased, 83-16.

    Vote on original article for 10k, for something related to energy maybe… passes.

    Short break… 15 minutes.

  • How did SeVEDS come out?

    I didn’t see anything about the awkwardly-acronymed So Vt Development whatsie. Obviously it wasn’t part of your big HS list in that earlier article. Curious because it was our one hot topic at Guilford Town Mtg, at which there was contention about the fact Guilford is assessed $3/person in Town, and apparently other towns are asked for that also, but Brattleboro is $2. Then it turned out several of the other towns had similar issues with the appropriation, at least 1 turned it down entirely (Guilford ended up approving the requested amount after an amendment to cut it failed.) So I am curious what RTM does with it, if anything. I assume it hadn’t come yp yet as of Chris;s last & continuing excellent! report.

    • See below for more

      Full discussion below, later in the meeting:

      Brattleboro’s Selectboard has felt for a few years that they want to give something to SeVEDS, but that a $3 per person assessment is too high, given that the Town loans out substantial sums to businesses, helps with grants, and so on. I think they sorta figure some of their “donation to regional business” comes in the form of in-kind services provided, which taxpayers are already contributing.

  • stuck on article 20

    Is RTM still on Article 20 and 5 pm? I think it may be stuck; I troed refreshing, quitting, restarting my computer but it’s still Article 20. (I don’t know how many articles there are, but I assume a number more to come.) Does RTM really go on this long? (Our Town Mtg lasted 2 1/2 hours!)

  • Article 22 - Paying for Most of the Stuff

    ARTICLE 22 : To see how much money the Town will raise, appropriate and expend to defray all
    of its expenses and liabilities, in addition to any funds authorized for any other Articles in these Warnings.

    Crispe – reminder about Sen Doyle questionnaire.

    $16,553,615, plus extras from today’s mtg, says Kate O’Connor in the reading of the motion.

    $810,100 from unassigned fund balance.
    $14,696,643 from property taxes.
    Balance from all other sources.

    O’Connor – to explain a few of the numbers. The first $16 million… that’s the total of operating expenses other than what you’ve already improved. Does not include those things. The $810k includes 60k for skatepark. The $14m to be collected is same number that select board approved… the skatepark comes out of the surplus. So it is a 3.6 cent increase in taxes. $36 per 100,000 of property value. Overall budget increase will be $122,074. We tried to keep property tax rate as low as possible.

    F. Reichsman – a motion to increase taxes and decrease use of fund balance by $40 so we pay out of taxes, rather than deplete fund balance. I think the amount to raised becomes $16,593,615 and taxes raised be increased to $14,734,643 and use of fund balance down to $770k. So, pay for tax money for skatepark, not fund balance.

    (numbers are recalculated)

    Crispe – So, (after checks of numbers) Increase to $16,593,615. Tax portion will become $14,736,643, and $770k.

    Reichsman – total shouldn’t change, just the amount in each column, right?

    Elwell – Earlier, you took 20k for skatepark into 60k. That meant a commitment from fund balance. You are now changing that so we raise taxes, and then we make the other adjustments.

    Elwell – the reason why the 40k needs to go up in the first number is you directed us to use fund balance, and we’re going to do that, but then we are also going to then spend taxes to fill the fund balance back up.

    Reichsman – did the 16 million include the skatepark? (just 20k) Okay.

    Crispe – So, (after checks of numbers) Increase to $16,593,615. Tax portion will become $14,736,643, and unassigned fund balance amount would be $770k. Important that what he is seeking to do is to raise an additional $40,000 to offset what was taken from unassigned fund balance for skatepark.

    J. Wilmerding – I support this. We like keeping a 10% balance for emergencies. This is a worthy goal to preserve the 10% balance.

    M. Averill – How would our tax rate compare to other places in the state? Does this push us to the top of high taxes?

    Elwell – There are several ahead of us, but they are also hub towns. Some small towns are in the top 10 list. This particular amendment won’t change our position of all. The impact on tax rate is about .35 cents effect. Won’t change position on list.

    Amendment to pay via taxes passes.

    S. Agave – I motion to raise the budget by $500,000. To enable the Selectboard to not use authorization to borrow and save $60k in interest… we just spent it on the skatepark. If we pay for cash for firetruck we get the skatepark along with it. So, we just have to choose whether to pay with taxes in one year, or pay with debt.

    Crispe – This would increase general budget to $17,093,615. Tax portion would become $15,236,643. Up by $500,000.

    J. Stahl-Tyler – The grant for $475k? Would that impact the amendment?

    Crispe – I think he suggests not borrowing the funds. So if Article 11 is approved to bond, if you adopt this amendment, the SB would not borrow the money.

    G. Harvey – A cautionary note that we should have 10% saved for a rainy day. Flood insurance premiums, since 1978, the average rate of increase was 10% a year. Outrageous. Not just flood, but also tornadoes, fires, and natural events. The worst hurricane season. Half of ice in Bering Sea melted. Temperatures are up. Four nor’easters in last few weeks. The likelihood of extraordinary demand being placed on people due to weather has been increasing. It is happening. We really do need a rainy day fund. 10% might not be enough.

    E. McLoughlin – seems me the watchword is level-funded, and if we raise it by half a million, we’ll just level fund it and it will never go down. Let’s borrow and remain more level funded.

    P. Borofsky – Do we have to pay for fire truck this year? Prepay completely?

    Elwell – We anticipate full cost this year. Fiscal 19. We can pay in advance to get a discount.

    W. Estey – Failing to take rainy day fund, what would percent of savings rise? If we borrow money.. wait. Nevermind.

    Elwell – I think I understand. If we raise taxes rather than borrow then how are we are on our 10% goal? It wouldn’t have an impact. It would replace the borrowing with taxes, so it doesn’t change the fund balance. Stays at 9.6

    Estey – Question – The $300k not spent on fire department building? Where would that end up? In capital budget?

    Elwell – It must be spent on capital expenses. It will be a special town meeting or next year to consider what to spend the remaining $300k on. Also… just to be sure. The discount on the fire truck, and it is included in our numbers now… we expect to pre-pay.

    Chapman – Is this an amendment to the amendment? the $40k added to a $500k piece?

    Crispe – this is new. This adds $500 additional. You’ll add $540 if passed.

    A. Flesher – 115k interest over 11 years? Thats 9-10k a year. Seems better to spread it over 10 years to stabilize the tax rate.

    T. Green – Can we have the new numbers if this passes?

    Elwell – We’re at 3.95 cents. The value of this half million is 4.35 cents so overall is 8.3 cents, or $83 per $100,000 of property value. $154 avg increase for a $185k home. Annually.

    Green – I can absorb this and live with this, but many can’t and that’s a substantial. We’d start pricing this town out of people’s budget. I favor the loan option.

    B. Ranquist – I was doing some math… $154 a year, or $12 a month or so… but I think of my friends who are living paycheck to paycheck and have to go to human service organizations or decide which bills to pay. If there’s a way that increases rent… $12 a month is more than many can handle without dropping something like food or heat. We already have high cost of living, especially for rent. We’re making it harder for people, and then we’ll need to support more human services. It’s a lot of money for many in town.

    D. Zak – Question – what kind of debt coverage ratio do we have? Impact on future borrowing?

    Elwell – We are in solid condition for current debt. VT bond bank are “eager to lend us more money” and our practices are sound. Lenders like us as a risk. Our own imposed limit is $1500 per capita, and we’re at $1054, so we have room. Debt service payments are limited to 12.5% and we’re at 8.2% now.

    M. Hasegawa – haven’t decide. Would the bump in taxes just be for one year?

    Elwell – Not knowing what you do next year…. this is whether to go from 4 to 8 cents, so you’d expect something level next year, it may or may not go down. You’ve added to what we’ve brought you today. It’s about worth a year’s tax increase…

    E. Todd – The grant for the fire truck – when do we hear and what would it mean for this?

    Elwell – Not a grant with a definite date… the longer you wait to hear, the better. But no deadline. We came close last year. Found out in winter we didn’t get it. We might hear sooner. Likely the earlier we hear the worse the news is. If it was approved, we’ll have a higher fund balance so we’ll pay down the taxes. if you approve article 11 borrowing and we buy truck, it will depend on when we order it, when we deposit it, when we take on debt. There may be flexibility to pay it off. So many variables. Goal is grant, then debt, then cash…unless you direct us otherwise.

    Eaton – propose we stay with borrowing as proposed. Interest rates are going up. Banks happy to loan us money the we don’t need it, and difficult when we do nee dit. Smart investment to borrow this year.

    Byrne – 8.3 cent increase in tax rate. 4.3 cent is for fire truck, one year. 3.95 is remainder. .35 covers the skatepark portion.

    M. Wheelock – people having hard time making ends meet don’t live in above average homes. Tight budgets won’t be $12/month for all. It’s for one year only. End up paying more over 10 year period. Long term, this is very wise thing to try to do.

    B. Starr – it’s best to borrow. For property owners it is one year, but for landlords, they’ll increase it more and rents don’t go back down. Many low income people and families at risk rent, and rents could go up, and once they go up they do not come back down. We have to protect them. They pay taxes through rent, and less likely to benefit from taxes going down. (applause)

    D. Bouboulis – we have 50% renters in community, and for people in market-rate housing, rents will go up and they won’t go back down. People with fixed incomes. We don’t have income sensitivity for property taxes. People in the middle get hit the hardest. Tight retirement incomes. A large increase like this is hard to plan for if money is tight.

    J. Allen – I could not walk down street and raise taxes 8.3 cents.

    Motion to close debate – passes 74-22. Debate, it is closed.

    Vote on amendment to add $500k. It fails.

    Original article 22 as amended. $16,593,615 version.

    It passes.

    Linton has discussion… but after the vote. I have questions.

    Daims – we could reconsider, which could allow more discussion…

    Crispe – we could reconsider. What’s the question?

    Linton – is this all capital items? Police cars? (Yes) My question is that we have capital expenses and six vehicles for $421,000 – pickup truck, suburban and police cruisers, and dump truck. Why we need to replace these vehicles after such a short time?

    Crispe – think it okay that we give an answer rather than reconsider past vote.

    Elwell – police cruiser is the one with rapid turnover. The two are 2012 vehicles, but on the road continually, and many hours and miles. Try to replace 2 vehicles a year, which is about replacing every 4 years. These are leftover from last year’s list. Really wearing out. Young, but worn and high priority.

    Linton – still don’t understand the condition issue.

    Chief – two vehicles are no longer operational and third won’t make it another year. I have a 12 year old vehicle. These run 12-18 hours a day, and idle, which is destructive. A lot of acceleration and braking. Rarely do the vehicles sit still. 6 year cycle is pushing it. A critical need for police.

    Crispe – so, answers even though we voted. Move to reconsider?

    Linton – feel like I don’t have enough info to vote. Want questions answered about dump trucks.

    Crispe – you are saying you don’t have enough info. It is late, but want to try to answer the question.

    Elwell – similar circumstance, different details. They take terrific beating. Our buying schedule has been off for years. Costs a bit to get back on schedule. That’s the approach. We have even more that need replacing.

    S. Barrett – Dump trucks we keep 10 years. About $6k in trade for it when we go to replace it. Used in harsh conditions. Same with pickup trucks. End of lifespan.

    They vote again – it passes.

  • Article 23 - A Second Sidewalk Plow?

    Lawrin Crispe notes the late hour, and presses on with the sidewalk plow.

    ARTICLE 23: To see if the Town will authorize the following capital purchase: The purchase of a
    sidewalk plow in an amount not to exceed $140,000 and to finance the same through FY19 Property

    J. Stahl-Tyler – how much does it mean to our taxes>

    Elwell – 1.2 cent increase, to 5.15 total.

    T. Carter – Greatly in favor for a number of reasons. We used to have three. We just have one. People who can’t be here, and diverse population. Many people rely on sidewalks. People with pets. Normal people use sidewalks, too. Helps increase business to help pedestrians. More walking is less pollution. This is a wise investment.

    R. Tortolani – Strongly in favor of this. We’ve had poor pedestrian safety in this town. Very unlucky. We need everything we can year round to help pedestrians. Some people don’t pay attention, snow banks add trouble. This is step in right direction.

    P. MacKinney – Also in favor. It is expensive but for years we’ve underinvested in sidewalks. As a result, sidewalks are in disrepair. Walking in winter is very challenging. One plow takes a long time to get everywhere.

    P. Falion – I support it, too. What is general life expectancy of the sidewalk plow?

    Barrett – about 15 years. Current one is a 2011. Covers 14 miles per storm. Lots of fuel and time. can take 2 weeks to go 14 miles.

    M. Burke – transportation system isn’t just about cars – walking, bikes are a part of it too. We’re approaching 10 hours here today but a great debate.

    H.B. Lozito – we bought a house on Clark Ave – on snowplow route so I can walk the dog. We like a walkable community.

    K. Turnas – I live downtown. I can look out and watch the plow on sidewalks across the street. It doesn’t do businesses. I’d like to see enforcement of business shoveling. I’m for the plow.

    S. Agave – I’m 71, and still shovel the sidewalk. Snow plow is sloppy . I clean up sidewalk the street plow covers it so I shovel again. I’ve been walking for a long time. Most trouble is due to sidewalks getting blocked by driveway plowing. Most difficulty is from people who don’t care and are lazy. I shoveled out a neighbor for a while. That’s living in a community and trying to save a little bit. Some used to go around and shovel out tyrants, just to be nice. I wish we could take more responsibility for the areas around our houses and not rely on the town for everything.

    A. Flesher – I walk on Oak Street every day. Generally service has been good. Only one day we had to walk in street for a bit. It would be nice to have another, but maybe we should postpone this a year. Thanks to Agave to shoveling yard for us to pass through.

    V. Goodman – I live in Oak Grove area – we need another sidewalk plow. Call the question?

    Crispe – Not with a comment before it.

    T. Franks calls the question. Cease debate? Oh yeah.

    Vote on sidewalk plow… it passes.

  • Article 24 - Money for SEVEDS? (And, uh, that brochure...)

    ARTICLE 24: To see if the Town will authorize the expenditure of $24,000 from Program Income
    (a revolving loan fund that disperses proceeds which originated as Community Development Block
    Grants) as a contribution to the operation of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS).

    O. Barber – So, this is from revolving loan fund, and a contribution to the operation. They don’t pay it back?

    K. O’Connor – a grant not a loan. (Explains revolving loan fund)

    C. Miscovitch – allow Adam Grinold to speak to this?

    Adam Grinold – Thanks for past support. (explains SeVEDS… and explains… and explains…)

    Crispe – could you wrap up?

    Grinold – (wraps up explaining.)

    E. McLoughlin – Last week I got a document in mail. Cost $1,10 to be mailed and an expensive document to produce. Didn’t have desired effect. I was appalled. I was suspect of groups that ask for money based on population. Not a fair way for Brattleboro to be represented. I’d like to register my dismay for being tone deaf to send this at great expense. (applause)

    M. Eaton – I was in Montpelier when we started have revolving fund block grants. Whole point was for them to come back around. Don’t see how this will be repaid back into revolving fund.

    K. O’Connor – we do make a majority of loans. (This is a grant)

    V. Stuart – I support SeVEDS and BDCC. We would have lost jobs without them. Maybe brochure was over the top, but they are poster child RDC. Can’t say enough good about them, and the work they do in the region. Help with education, employment. Don’t just look at one mailing.

    J. Steele – Mailing is great example of how they waste money. I’ve been denied services by BDCC – watching them for years. They treat many businesses poorly by not helping them. I can’t get behind this at all. Need a change of leadership. need experienced people.

    J. Jacobs – I’ve had support from BDCC, so there are many perspectives. I found brochure to be helpful.

    Emily ? – I worked with BDCC and SeVEDS. They help colleges. Any question is answered. Young professional events are great. I speak highly of them and proud to see their work.

    L. Schiff – I work for state with Voc Rehab. BDCC and SEVEDS are a really good partner. Help with disadvantaged people getting back to work, programs for young people. Career expo. In favor of spending this for them.

    M. Bosworth – also in favor. Brochure did make me wonder. Might want to rethink that in future years, but a small matter compared to the good they do. Full support.

    D. Schoales – From my experience, the role of BDCC helping the town is mostly in workforce development. Very successful diversity efforts. Really important programs. Not sure about the brochure, but should support them.

    R. Sage – Two things – Seveds works with small businesses and youth. That’s huge! People say youth are leaving, small businesses are leaving… I have a 17 year old son leaving school and needs help entering the workforce. In favor of this article.

    A. Fischer – I feel torn on this one. Young professionals work – seems divisive to use term “professionals” – has connotation of fanciness. I like Seveds. A question – what is revenue over expenses of $30,000 from last year surplus.

    Grinold – was a surplus from a grant

    Fisher – what is young professionals budget?

    Grinold – $3500.

    Daims – I’ve always had good impression, but want to yield to Mr. Steele.

    Steele – am I allowed? Ok? You want to hear more? Let’s see. 4 or 5 years ago I approached them, went in blindly, and was nicely referred elsewhere. Went back, was told they couldn’t work with me due to a conflict of interest. They are tasked to help small businesses. BDCC employee began to threaten people that associated with me. I raised a stink. talked to Adam. He brushed it off. It was upsetting. I’ve spoken with many others. They’ve helped many people. It’s beautiful. But even more businesses outweigh the lucky few. Mailer didn’t discuss slander, getting kicked out of buildings, referring people elsewhere, or conflict of interest rules. It’s behind the scenes. There should be opportunities but they don’t exist.

    D. Bouboulis – Many know I spend time talking to people, and for many years. There are way more Josh’s than people who have had good experiences. What we don’t have here is an inclusive, open organization. Hard to change the coat without a little magic. What we don’t have? We undersell ourselves. We can have whatever we want, but have to hold people to the fire. If this org can’t do it, we need a new one. Josh is poster child for new business we want. He’s hiring people. Majority not helped.

    Question called. Cease debate? Debate continues, 59-31.

    Chapman – we need more info on this. Our info has been anecdotal, and others say things are going well. Why did select board put this on the warrant?

    W. Estey – SB doesn’t need to answer this, anyone can.

    Crispe – they put it on the warning.

    K. O’Connor – we get this request every year. Last year was $3 per resident. We decided $2. We do work with BDCC. The revolving loan fund is used to give money directly with small biz loans. We wanted more cash to give directly to businesses, not through Seveds. You need to make the decision.

    Crispe – last motion yielded a total of 90 which is close to quorum, and two walked out… I’m warning that we’re getting close to not having a quorum and am concerned, so then we’ll have to recess til tomorrow or another date. or call people back. We can’t legally do business if we drop below 78. A point of information. I urge people to stick with this. I will suggest perhaps we take a 15 minute… no? Keep going? Okay… I get the message.

    Miscovitch – President of BDCC. On brochure – we get it. It was locally designed and printed, in our defense. We’re not perfect. We do a pretty good job. Mr. Steele’s criticism has been incorporated, and we’ve met to try to solve the problems, and he wasn’t happy, and we failed. If disappointed, do come talk to us.

    S. Burch – Out of revolving loan how often do we give grants? Have we done this for others?

    O’Connor – Mostly loans. Seveds might be only organization we grant to…

    S. Burch – maybe this would be best to loan directly to small biz.

    J. Stahl-Tyler – it’s $24k, and regional. It’s good for the region. Others support it as well. Comments will be heard, and next year we’ll have better answers. Let’s support and move on.

    K Urffer – what is total amount of money town has? But also glad town loans directly to small businesses, but town can’t do the type of networking and programs BDCC and SEVEDS does.

    Elwell – About $4-500k in the fund, and about $250,000 available at this time. Max loan to a business is $75k.

    Cease debate? So shall it be ceased…

    Vote on article – it passes.

  • Article 25 - Bradley House Exemption

    ARTICLE 25: To see if the Town will approve exemption of the education tax portion of real
    estate taxes for Bradley House for a period of one year.

    M. Casey – You mean land currently occupied taken over by Holton?

    Elwell – a single board, but it is operated as Bradley House.

    D. Able, Director – reads report. This is short term issue, and we”ll be back on track next year without a need for exemption on education taxes.

    Chapman – I speak in favor. Renovations mean less income for a while, so good to give them a break.

    It passes. Town portion done.

    On to schools.

  • John Allen

    K. O’Connor – It’s John’s final meeting as member of selectboard.

    Reads an official resolution – served multiple towns, and as town mtg rep, and on police fire facilities committee, and rep to windham solid waste district, and tireless supporter of a skatepark. Helped hire new town manager, town clerk, and police chief. Advocate for recycling. Served with sense of humor and eye to keep taxes low… this RTM thanks John Allen for dedicated service to town of Brattleboro.

    Standing ovation and plaque.

  • Chair Recognizes Tim O'Connor

    A light song to honor Timothy O’Connor with Danny Boy.

    Tim Ellis – he loved Irish music, so please join us.

    They sing. And applaud. And cry a bit.

  • Article 26 - 28

    ARTICLE 26: To see what salaries the Town School District will pay its school board members.

    $3k for directors; chair gets $5k.


    ARTICLE 27: To see if the Town School District will authorize its Town School Directors to
    borrow money in anticipation of taxes.

    (Question of whether there is a quorum.)

    (They check – yes)


    ARTICLE 28: To see if the Town School District will authorize the District to accept and expend
    categorical grants and aid received from the State of Vermont and the United States Government.


  • Article 29 - The School Budget

    ARTICLE 29: Shall the voters of the school district approve the school board to expend
    $14,659,600 which is the amount the school board has determined to be necessary for the ensuing fiscal year? It is estimated that this proposed budget, if approved, will result in education spending of $16,356 per equalized pupil. This projected spending per equalized pupil is 3.1% lower than spending for the current year.

    J. Stahl-Tyler – We told you of realities children face, and what’s being done. Proud to be part of this district. Applaud efforts of educators, please. (they do)


  • Article 30 - Other Business

    Daims – Proposal endorsed by 350 Vermont – we town mtg members advise SB and town manager to purchase all town building electricity from renewable sources. people in town, too. Many people use Cow Power to find alternative renewable sources. If not, they invest in renewables.

    Crispe – This is advisory only.

    Eaton – I don’t mind these proposals as long as they don’t cost more or cause more pollution. Not sure we should instruct, or represent all wishes of people in town.

    Schoales – Town has signed on with solar project at Windham landfill. We’ll get 8-0% from them. Almost there already.

    Daims – This has been researched around town and is supported by people around town.

    O. Barber – I’d refer Mr. Eaton to article 2 passed on March 6. 910-180 for renewable energy. That indicates the wish of the voting populace.

    S. Linton – I helped with surveys and people want to move this way. I support it. It’s advisory to get conversation going. I hope people support this.

    (Do we have a quorum?)

    Count says 85, so still in good shape.

    Daims resolution passes.

    R. Morgan – I propose SB and town manager designate $400 for child care for next year’s meetings. Helps with Democracy.

    ? – I support it too. We’re first to do it!

    K. Urffer – in support. We were planning to use it but our son was sick so we didn’t bring him here so we split the day. I’ve been enamored of this institution and feel like opportunity for kids to bring in will develop their cultural awareness. Son saw the skatepark vote and stood up. New energy from kids!

    S. Linton – I was a single parent on school board and worked for child care – it helps a young person and/or single parent to get involved. I’d like to increase it form $400. We want to pay livable wages, and pay what they need to be paid. Just provide it by ay means necessary.

    Morgan – I accept the amendment.

    Ranquist – This I’m most excited by. I am the sole user of child care this year – only kids there this week, but I wouldn”t have been there or here without child care. Glad they are involved with democracy. My daughter could be a microphone runner next year. Would really love for Selectboard and school board to have child care, too. It can cost $25 for babysitting to go to a meeting – pay to participate in democracy? That’s not fair!

    Morgan Motion passes.

    Crispe – we’re losing our folks…

    Kornheiser – so sorry, but two surveys I hope you fill out. Also, asked by compassionate communities to give brief report. Last year town voted to establish compassionate committee – started as interfaith alliance, then other joined. Explored ways to encourage compassion stories. Second is to work with United Ways to help with volunteers, and a compassion certificate for downtown business who adopt certain practices. Strategic planning going on. New members welcome, and thanks.

    Crispe – we don’t have a quorum, but Chair will entertain announcements.

    Kornheiser – love a straw poll on human services budget. Biased, but thanks.

    Wheelock – I’d like next year to turn us 90 degrees so we can see… light from windows was distracting.

    Crispe – thanks for feedback.

    J. Jacobs – created a social media group on a corporate site, and it is not aligned with open meeting laws, but would like to further intention of that. Current venues don’t reach as many as possible.

    (CG, cranky after a long day…. “Yes, where could you come in town to have a forum to be online to talk about these sort of things? Where oh where? If only a place for people in town to discuss local issues? Can’t think of any place.” ; ) )

    D. Bouboulis – You can create a one way system to send input to Town Reps. No recycling bins, no compost in this year.

    T. Carter – West River Trail tire problem…check it out. Bad for wetlands. Tires will be overgrown soon so look now.

    B. Tortolani – education meeting was very useful. Thanks to the moderator for hard work done today! (Applause.

    crispe – constructive and courteous debate.

    Adjourned! at 7:10

  • RTM

    Thanks ibrattleboro for a brilliant running summary. Very very helpful!

  • Thank You.

    I was unable to watch the proceedings this year, and just wanted to Thank You for your reporting on the meeting. Having a summary of the discussions, rather than just a word or two detailing the outcome of a vote, helps in understanding the various issues affecting our town.

    The same kudos are due to iBrattleboro’s coverage of Selectboard meetings.

    When iBrattleboro does this kind of reporting reliably year after year, it becomes easy to take it for granted. So I just wanted to take a moment to say Thank You. This (all of it) is very much appreciated.

    • Thanks to you, too

      Every year I wonder if it will be worth spending an entire Saturday in spring sitting at a computer, typing (this year for about 11 hours). It’s exhausting but still seems worth it.

      Note to readers – you can cover any meeting you like, too. Planning, DRB, and Schools are all wide open and available.

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