Selectboard Special Meeting Notes – FY21 Budget Sent To Town Meeting Representatives

brattleboro selectboard jan 28 2020

The Brattleboro Selectboard held a quick meeting to approve the FY21 budget, Town Meeting warning, and Representative Town Meeting warning. They also discussed a planned sidewalk for the new Hinsdale Bridge and changes to RT 142.

During public participation, citizens questioned the police chief about the recent uptick in vehicle break-ins.

Comments | 6

  • Preliminaries

    There are no preliminary remarks, other than an announcement by David Schoales of the Bridge to Brattleboro visit today. Six students of color visited the hospital and other businesses, and learned about living in Brattleboro. It’s the second time they’ve held this event. New internships are being coordinated.

    Elwell – There were a dozen students involved. Good engagement. A student shadowed me and Sally Nix for part of the day. Very impressive. Very well prepared students and they found the day worthwhile.

    Chief Fitzgerald – we’ve been a part of the diverse workforce committee and we like to show off the community. This opens the doors to higher ed places for us. Opens up opportunities for us to go talk and interview candidates. It’s recruitment, but not targeted like that. The students were very engaging. They had a good philosophy of law enforcement. Any department would be lucky to have them on the team.

    Public Participation

    Brandy – there are people here for a specific purpose, and the Captain and Chief are here to answer questions. Generally we ask you to keep comments to 2 minutes. Some boards just thank you, but we engage you more, but we can’t do too much because it isn’t a warned item.

    Michael from Brattleboro – I’ve lived here almost all my life, at Marlboro Ave. The recent spike in break-ins and the uptick in trespassing has us all pretty scared. We want a public forum, and there is one in the works, so we are waiting for that. Some of the key players on our street would like to see the police department, the selectboard, our legislators, and senators from Vermont. The hope is that all questions can be answered quickly. We’re scared, my kids are scared, and something needs to be done.

    Brandie – the forum is going to be Sat Feb 29 at 10 am at the library. There may or may not be child care.

    Elwell – more details will come out. Still be worked out now. Emilie Kornheiser started this and many are in the loop.

    Tim – Must be a leap year.

    Andrea – Trespassing and getting into people’s cars…. how are people allowed in a car if they are not allowed on a property? It is concerning when children and dogs bark at them. Just trying to clear things up.

    Chief – I don’t know what Senator White said.

    Andrea – A police officer said someone could get into a vehicle owned by someone else…the police officer wasn’t named, but said it was okay to do that… are people allowed to get into others cars?

    Chief – Can they go in your car and not be arrested? There is no law saying someone cannot go in your car. If they don’t do damage or take something, no crime.

    Andrea – How isn’t it trespassing?

    Chief – There is no law. There is a contradiction. I hope we get answers when the whole group gets together. There is confusion.

    Elwell – There are states where that is illegal, but not illegal in VT if there is no damage or stealing.

    George Anthese – Out in the country, if it is posted, then trespassing is arrestable. In town, going within your fence if a gate is closed, that is trespassing. Most cars aren’t within fences. So unless there is damage or taking something it isn’t trespassing.

    Chief – Well said.

    Capt. Carignan – In VT, just walking on a property that isn’t posted isn’t a crime. Entering home is a crime. Walking on someone else’s property, and there is no fence or posted signs, or you haven’t been warned, there is no trespassing.

    Andrea – I vote for hemp-made no trespassing signs. Could that be gifted by the fairies of the police department?

    Brandie – Seems a bit privileged to be able to fence property.

    David – The problem is the crimes…

    Liz – Can you give an overview of the problem?

    Chief – I’ve seen a significant spike in attempted larcenies or larcenies in vehicles. Last year we had 12 reports. This year it is 39. It is in certain areas of town more than others. We’re talking with neighbors and reaching out. We’ve changed some tactics with overnight hours relating to this. It has produced some results. Mainly I’d like to say to the general public – please call the police. Even though they went in and didn’t steal anything and we can’t arrest them, we need to know their story – they could be violating other conditions, or have an arrest warrant. That, through our tactics, has worked. They were arrested for other things than going into the car. It helps us gather data, too. If we get complaints, we know where to focus our efforts. Nothing is too small. There are other residents that haven’t said anything. If we know the data it helps.

    Tim – There is an uptick in vehicle intrusions, but any uptick in residential intrusions? There was a rumor that it was cars and homes…

    Chief – No. I have not seen that. The uptick and percentage is just vehicles. Not residents or dwellings.

    Andrea – If you post something on Facebook you could be liable for posting the damages?

    Brandie – You can’t be like, ‘I know Brandie Starr broke my window and did damage.’

    Chief – When they posted individual photos of who they suspected, and one of those people in the photos is incarcerated, it’s wrong. You’d be upset if your photo was posted and you were accused of criminal activity.

    Andrea – What can we do to prevent 5G from coming to town and how can we protect our schools?

    Brandie – We don’t have anyone who can answer that tonight. There is a group in town working on it and I’ll put you in touch.

    Tim – More folks will come Feb 4th to talk about crime.

    Brandie – Come to the next meeting if you missed this one.

    – can it be on the agenda?

    Brandie – If it is, then it comes late because it would be new business.

    David – You are doing the right thing by contacting the police. The other thing is to talk to legislators. You are doing the right things.

    Michael – We’ve added a lot of surveillance equipment. We’ve been dealing with this for two years. I’ve spent $800 in two years. I hope the public forum will be huge. We can’t wait any longer. Come out and speak up.

    Brandie – The forum will be sat the 29th of February at the Library at 10 am.

  • Approve Selectboard’s Recommended FY21 Budget

    Elwell – You’ve had 9 meetings and public discussions and we’ve been working through unfinished items. You narrowed it to final decisions last week. It is hard to summarize 20 pages of line items, but I’m happy to explain more if you want, but given the amount of time you have given to this, it is most relevant to most people to talk about property tax impacts.

    The impact of the budget is an increase of 2.9% or 3.77 cents in municipal property tax rate. For a $100k property, taxes will go up by $37.70. RTM has the final vote on the budget, of course…

    Brandie – Any final thoughts on budget?

    Daniel – I’m excited for the public to weigh in and decide en masse what they want to do.

    Liz – It shows the care of the staff and the will of the public.

    Brandie – RTM always looks this over. Other eyes will help bring this to fruition.

    Tim – It has been a long process. This touches on all things, such as negotiations with the police union.

    David – We also made changes to get our non union wages up, too.

    Franz Reichsman – Could you give the numbers? What’t the current number and then next year?

    Elwell – General fund for current year is 1.2585 cents. Add to it the increase and it goes up to 1.2962 cents.

    Franz – That’s what I get. Do you have the list of tax rates back to 2005? There is a small adjustment number in there I don’t understand. In the middle column…

    Elwell – The local agreement tax rate adjustment – it equalizes tax rates across Vermont.

    Liz – An equalization ration.

    Elwell – Nothing to do with our budget; it is imposed by the state.


  • Approve Town Meeting Warnings Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 3, and Annual Representative Town Meeting on Saturday, March 21, 2020

    Brandie – We are approving the town meeting warnings! On March 3rd and RTM on March 21.

    Elwell – There is one change to the first of the two warnings. Article 2 was a school officer placeholder. Because of the Act 46 consolidations, there is no local school district. The new district does its portion of the ballot. There will be separate warnings for school and town articles. Ours just has the ones dealing with town government.

    Brandie – Voters will have to deal with the new school voting and such…

    Elwell – It will be on one ballot – just warned differently.

    David – Brattleboro voters will vote on members in all the other towns, and surrounding towns vote for Brattleboro candidates. Hopefully candidate profiles will be available to the media. The ballots will be the same.

    Elwell – One other thing – everything we’ve been talking about is March 3rd. The RTM warning is identical to last week’s discussion.

    Tim – When can we stop calling it an Australian ballot?

    Brandie – I’m open to a better term. Vote on March 3 has no discussion, but RTM has much conversation.

    Tim – You can vote for national primaries early, but you’d need to go back to vote for the local issues.

    Daniel – Maybe you want to vote early but also consider the different candidates or issues. Maybe things will need more than Feb 12. Do what you want. It is your vote.


  • Appointment for Ratification at Representative Town Meeting – Interim Town Treasurer

    Elwell – We held this back last week to hire the financial services firm, but now we have the Town Treasurer to take over when the Finance Director position is in transition. Appoint Assistant Treasurer Deborah Desrosiers as Interim Town Treasurer. She’s signed for things when John O’Connor wasn’t available. She’ll continue until someone new is hired.

    Brandie – How does she feel about this?

    Elwell – She is willing. You’d have to ask her.

    Tim – Since we have to appoint someone when we hire, do we have another RTM?

    Elwell – No. You appoint someone for the year subject to ratification at the next meeting.


    Liz – There are three clerk items I’m sending down the line…

  • Sidewalk Project to Connect the New Hinsdale Bridge to Royal Road – VTrans Municipal Assistance Bureau Grant Recipient Project Commitments Form

    Elwell – This is one of the things that has flowed from working with Vtrans – work on Putney Rd, etc. A lot of things are happening with Vtrans of local concern. This is related to the Hinsdale Bridge project. It will be put out to bid this year and construction to begin next year. Vtrans saw an opportunity to connect the sidewalk from the bridge to Royal Road, plus a crosswalk and traffic signal. The initial idea seemed to cost too much, so we worked with them and they found ways we can work within federal rules and prepare for the sidewalk. It’s now part of the bridge project. They’ll pay 100% of the signal and crosswalk, and we’ll pay 20% of the sidewalk. It is estimated to be $70k or so. We need to submit a form to Vtrans saying we are committed to the project and will pay for our share. We’ll manage the project on behalf of Vtrans. Very pleased that it has worked out this way and Vtrans staff has been in good communication. Ready for your approval, so Vtrans can get the project moving.

    Brandie – I’m also grateful for Vtrans, especially on a project that is dragging.

    Liz – Sounds like good progress…

    Franz – This is only marginally related, but does this change the intersection or traffic control at Malfunction Junction?

    Elwell – That intersection isn’t within the scope of the project. One change to RT 142 is coming, but the 5 way intersection that is challenging will become a four way. The current route to Hinsdale will just go to the restaurant and train station. Signals will be reset to work more like a 4 way intersection. We hope traffic will improve. VTrans will do the reset. Not a structural change, just programming change.

    Tim – It should make quite a difference.

    Elwell – The elevation of RT 142 will change. The bridge needs to clear the railway tracks. Somewhere around the entry to the Marlboro Grad building, 142 will rise significantly – maybe 20 feet, and will peak at the bridge, and then drop back down by Royal Rd.

    Liz – Fun for bikes…

    Daniel – and skateboards….


    7:15 adjourn

  • Thank you, Chris!

    I’m glad you cover the Brattleboro Selectboard meetings.

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