Selectboard Meeting Notes – Bulky Items, and Begging Allowed

I’ll be live-blogging the meeting again, so follow along and feel free to ask questions. They’ll be getting started soon, and I’ll be adding regular updates in the comments below.

Comments | 9

  • Just a few minutes late...

    Kate O’Connor thanks the Literary Fest, and reminds people to vote at the American Legion.

    Peter Elwell says Sat Nov 3 is a day for early voting at Town Clerk’s office. Leaf collection is Oct 26 and Nov 9, both Fridays. Use the large paper bags. And, Oct 27, WSWMD will have a hazardous waste collection event. (Paint can be thrown away all year long, btw. Not hazardous.)

    For public participation, Ricky Davidson came to thank the board for the change of parking in front of B&G Club, and the DPW for doing drainage and sidewalk work. Thanks!

    Dale Joy said she comes to meetings, but gets interrupted during public participation whenever she speaks. She says parents need to censor their children at home from adult conversations, but needed to discuss a few male officers adult behavior. She said she was concerned about fair and equal policies for people and businesses, but there also can’t be advertising in art unless all businesses allowed the same courtesy. An internet address, she said, isn’t a signature.

    O’Connor says there needs to be decorum and she’ll speak up when things aren’t within the dignity of the meeting.

    Dick DeGray said he’s noticed that there is an increase of police downtown, both cruisers and foot patrols, both day and night. “I’ve seen them at 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning.”

  • Repeal of Anti Panhandling Ordinance

    This is the second public hearing to repeal Chapter 13, section 13-2. “No person shall beg…”

    No public comment. The Chief of Police is asked about foot patrols by David Schoales. Chief Fitzgerald says a solution is needed, not enforcement. Must look at causes, not just symptoms. More officers downtown is addressing symptoms. We get requests all over town, he explains. But, will spend more time downtown. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    O’Connor asks how much downtown is a crime vs social service work? The Chief says downtown, and all over town, it’s mostly quality of life issues and not actual crimes.

    Tim Wessel asks about resource allocation, and what can be done with limited resources. The Chief says new staff is potentially on the horizon (in training now), and the department will look at what needs to be accomplished and how to best do it. He says they can stack non-emergency calls, or change how they do traffic enforcement. More computer work can be done in patrol cars downtown.

    Schoales says he’s glad the department is almost fully staffed, happy officers were downtown, and wondered if cameras might help? The Chief thinks cameras are great after a crime occurs. Monitoring them is out of the question, and cameras won’t help with the town reach the end goal.

    O’Connor says the police should tell the board where they want to be, wherever they have to be, to be effective. Brandie Starr agrees, and that police downtown are a comfort to all, from homeowners to people sleeping out on the street.

    Begging ordinance is repealed! 5-0

  • Parking Rate Increase

    Parking rate increase up for a second public hearing.

    Nanya wonders if a fraction of parking meter revenue should be for bike lanes. “Brattleboro is smoggy.”

    Dick Degray asks for all town reports to be posted on town web page. Disappointed that his suggestion of raising the overnight parking rates wasn’t acted upon. “We have the cheapest parking tickets,” he tells the board.

    Ricky Davidson appreciates the move to credit cards and apps. The rate increase? “My staff don’t feel safe going back to their car at end of the day.” Parking increase should go to improving parking lighting in garage, and improving quality of life issues. “A suggestion.”

    Degray asks when lights will be installed at parking garage. Patrick Moreland says first half of next year.

    Shanta Lee Gander said unsafe parking was a problem and wants to work on it.

    Wessel says not everyone was against raising overnight parking rates.

    With some corrections and clarifications out of the way, the rate increase is approved. 5-0

  • Finances

    John O’Connor reports on September, 25% of the fiscal year complete.

    General Fund is at 25.4% of annual budget.

    Utility Fund is at 24.2%

    Parking is at 20.4%

    Solid Waste revenues are at 22.6% and expenses are at 18.4%.

    $4,400,771 has been loaned out, and $503,729 is available for additional grants and loans.

    There are 35 active grants and 7 in development.

    Rooms and Meals tax revenue should come in Dec. AirBnB pays directly to the state, but never get any detail from the state, he says. Schoales hopes to collect and process all rooms & meals tax locally, eventually. Moreland says it has to be collected the state, which surprises Schoales.

    Nanya says local residents need to consider what the future is going to look like, and how digital currency could be used by the town to invest more into the budget, for survivor reparations. Funding could be available with digital currency.

    John O’Connor was also authorized to represent the town at the annual tax sale.

    Peter Elwell says the annual tax sale attracts bids. Sometimes, he says, no one bids. In such a case, the Town could offer a minimum bid for those properties.

    Schoales asks why the Town would want to do that? Elwell says you do it so it doesn’t just sit there. Not all properties get bought, but Town can protect taxpayer interest. “A defensive measure for the Town to be a bidder.”

    Gander asks if people easily understand the step before their property is up for tax sale. Elwell says nearly all understand what’s happening: the majority pay up in time to avoid tax sale. Some others redeem in the next year. And there is a chance to state a case for abatement.

  • Winter Sand and Road Salt bids

    Winter sand at $8.70 per cubic yard, delivered. Ordering 3,300 cubic yards from Zaluzny Excavating of Vernon.

    Gander asks if cheaper sand is of lesser quality. Elwell says no – they bid on one type of sand, the kind we want.

    Wessel asks how this compares with last year? No one knows exactly.

    Winter salt is $75 per ton, through a state contract. It comes from Rochester, NY.

    Elwell says multiyear averages determine budgets, but they are ultimately uncontrollable. It’s weather.

    Schoales gives a small lesson on Niagara Falls and western NY salt.

  • Bulky Item Pickups, and the return of Pay As You Throw

    Shanta Lee Gander said she went to a web page and posted a question about feelings about bulky items and trash, and PAYT.

    She says she has to pay to remove large items, and the town doesn’t help. Sometimes people have no way to remove large items. They want a way to remove big items. They also don’t like PAYT. And they have lots of questions. Can we get biodegradable trash bags? How do policies impact residents?

    Can an assessment be done? Gander suggests some sort of survey be done in addition to the informal surveying she did herself.

    Schoales thinks it is good to do an assessment of the PAYT system. But how, and what do we want to know? Maybe bring back the PAYT team and ask them to come up with a method to assess PAYT.

    O’Connor says the concern is there will be a cost to this. ‘Somebody has to pay to pick up the couch.’ A survey will show everyone wants their couch gets picked up. But it can’t be free.

    Gander says the survey is about PAYT, and the bulky items is a different piece. “I asked ‘would it be helpful’ to have things picked up.”

    O’Connor says they need to know how much it would cost. And there needs to be better PAYT education.

    Brandie Starr thought maybe a spring and fall pickup could be provided, for a price. It would help people who couldn’t move their stuff. Removing a couch can be for a health reason – an infestation.

    Elwell says the bulky item is a simple question and good timing for budget season. A survey is more long term. We’ll ask the trash folks about bulky item pickup and prices, then you can decide.

    Gander says assessment is the bigger issue, but wants to work on it. Schoales says WSWMD might develop an assessment method. O’Connor said the numbers shows success of the program. Elwell suggest further public education about PAYT.

    Schoales suggests exploring alternatives to plastic trash bags?

    Elwell says there are bigger challenges.

    Wessel says he used to be opposed, but became convinced. There is more personal responsibility for trash we make. Tax dollars still pay for some, but it is a positive thing for people to think about their trash. PAYT is successful – landfill diversion is number one in the state. Wessel says, too, that asking people a question via social media isn’t a very accurate representation of public opinion. he doesn’t want town staff to do an assessment.

    Gander says information can be gained from social media, even if it isn’t scientifically sound.

    Ricky Davidson – our cost to remove recycling is going up. It’s almost cheaper to throw into the trash to get rid of it. No one is buying recyclable materials.

    Elwell – it’s an international problem. VT law calls for us to recycle what can be recycled, and compost what can be composted (soon).

    They’ll work on bulky item pickup info, and possibly maybe sometime do the assessment.

  • Bulletproof vest

    A grant for just over $3k to pay for some bulletproof vest upgrades for the police department.


  • Quarterly review of SB goals

    Elwell offers some highlights:

    – statewide hub town coalition is beginning to happen. Successful sessions now and anticipated in the future.

    – budget plan will show long term vehicle plan for maintenance and replacement.

    – collecting a bit more PILOT type revenue than before

    – no Municipal Center building plan yet

    – more energy efficiency projects on the way; no sustainability officer

    – diversity and inclusion continues as significant focus.

    Schoales says Compassionate Community Committee is working on a speakers series, to get it into the daily conversation in town. Six dates next Mar, April and May. Topics will be schools, healing, human services, town gov’t, business, and healthy souls.

    Also, regarding energy and housing, housing costs are prohibitive here in town. Vague information about housing in town. Endless series of anecdotes. Our role could be to sponsor a forum to share this information – a housing conversation.

    Gander agrees.

    Wessel says it is great to think of how we play a role, based on real data. I’d like us to consider the 1% local option tax. “It’s incumbent upon us to consider these options.”

  • And...

    Committee appointments -interviews for Police Fire Communication Committee have gone on long enough, and the appointment will be made. Four people were nominated.

    Gary Stroud was appointed.

    Schaoles – “that’s the first time the nominating and voting worked!”

    Energy Committee gets Ralph Meima for a two year term.

    That’s it!

Leave a Reply