The Brattleboro Selectboard held a first reading of a proposed ordinance to limit upfront rental costs, but decided not to move ahead with a second reading. Instead, more research, new ideas, and data will be explored.
Groundworks got a big grant which enables the completion of their project on South Main Street, and the marketing initiative to promote Brattleboro was discussed.
Chair Tim Wessel – I don’t have remakes, but something popped into my head as we started the meeting. You’ve restarted weekly COVID-19 updates. The rest of the US is turning red. Vermont is doing quite well. Keep it up. Living in little boxes is keeping people safe. If you care, you’ll wear. We’ll come out the other side.
Peter Elwell – the weekly updates – we are resuming them as we enter the colder months. There will be additional cases. As cases increase, it is likelier we’ll have restrictions like the springtime. Related to that, I got good advice. The importance of putting out reports on a regular basis to the public, and knowing when updates are coming out. Count on us for a Friday update. And, as we keep on with our regular lives as we can, there are two opportunities to get rid of waste – this Saturday at 8 til noon there is a household hazardous waste collection at Old Ferry Rd. Contact WSWMD for more info. First of two leaf pickup days is this Friday all over town. Then again Nov 6.
Tim – no radioactive waste.
Peter – or ammunition. But they do accept many things. Safely discard.
Ian Goodnow – Nov 3 is the general election. There’s no in person early voting. Everyone was sent a ballot in the mail. Call the Town Clerk if questions. Mail ballots in or drop them at Municipal Center lot, or vote in person but expect delays for safety precautions at the American legion. Trade in the ballot you were sent. Or fill out a form. If you do mail in, follow all steps. Don’t use markers due to bleed-thru.
Daniel Quipp – Traffic Safety – it was fine and solid, good work was done. On 3rd Thursday at 8 am on gotomeeting. Putney Rd crosswalk started in Traffic Safety.
Tim – crosswalk at Hannford is coming, too.
Daniel – read the minutes.
Public Participation – none
Ordinance Regulating Housing Lease Deposits and Creating a Housing Board of Review
Tim – this is the first reading, but not a hearing, bit we welcome public comment. There will be no vote tonight. Nov. 3 will be the second reading and vote if all goes according to plan. Bob Fisher will join us to summarize the ordinance as modified.
Bob – this proposed ordinance. I’ll go over it in summary fashion. It covers security deposits, and no other payments beyond first month’s rent and security deposit can be required. That’s the gist. It eliminates the last month rent. Security will be limited to one month’s rent. There is a provision for pet security deposit. Took out language about having interest accrue. I read the housing board of review decisions in Burlington, but in their orders you will see a mention of interest of 83 cents or so… never over a couple of dollars. Not a big factor to take out. The other part is to establish a Housing Board of Review to hear disputes over rents and the housing code. In Burlington, they had some owners in noncompliance of housing code. In Brattleboro, we usually go to court. This would have an intermediary step. As for disputes about security deposits, that’s whether some place was left in reasonable condition, or cleaning charges were appropriate, timeliness of appeals, amounts of security deposit paid, and so on. All about security deposits. If a tenant used their security deposit as last month’s rent, were there any cases where they ordered the tenant to pay the landlord back? I couldn’t find any. It’s beyond their jurisdiction. There were also issues of habitability of a space, but that went beyond security deposits so it wasn’t for the Housing Board of Review. That’s what I found in Burlington. Happy to answer questions.
Daniel – could you give me a laypersons description of the process a landlord would use?
Bob – as of right now, if a landlord finds a tenant hasn’t paid rent or damaged things beyond the security deposit it would go to small claims court. It has limitations – no depositions and doesn’t linger on. As far as court goes, small claims is relatively quick justice. A judge would listen to both sides and make a decision. That usually takes 4-5 months.
Liz McLoughlin – isn’t the main thrust about the deposit? Could people have a swifter resolution of the issue?
Bob – not wit a change at the state level. This doesn’t get into ordering payment regarding habitability. Most cases were landlords returning little to none of a security deposit and tenants challenging that. The board listen to that and decides. Very limited.
Tim – even though the deposit shall not be used as last month’s rent unless otherwise agreed to, the housing board won’t address that line?
Bob – correct – civil damages vs what is okay for a security deposit. It’s really about the amount of a security deposit returned.
Ian – if a tenant used the security deposit as last month’s rent, they’d violate a town ordinance. Would that provide the landlord with a mother avenue – like violating a sewer ordinance?
Bob – not additional alternatives. It would give the Town the ability to enforce against the tenant, but it would be a civil ticket. That could be done, but it doesn’t put money into the landlord’s pocket.
Ian – is there a way that money could be accessible to landlords via a fund for ordinance violations?
Bob – it could possibly be done, but not as written right now. The board would have to sanction how ticket monies were disbursed.
Liz – you could ask for last month’s rent up front…
Bob – that’s about passing this ordinance.
Daniel – I do have concerns about the situation where security is used as last month rent and the process is slow and might not get the money repaid. Are there ways we can fix that?
Liz – those are my concerns. Housing issues require increased wages and incentives for new units, and this does neither, and further penalizes landlords in this situation.
Tim – the housing board has the ability, somehow, to find for a tenant if a landlord has taken too much of a security deposit, but has no ability to go in the other direction and return money to a landlord when they use security as last month’s rent. Seems lopsided to me that they can’t find for the landlord. Is that right?
Bob – you have that right. The security deposit is held by the landlord, in case repairs need to be made. Most of the cases dealt with how much of the deposit was returned. Sometimes they affirmed the decision of the landlord due to itemized damages and written notice to the tenant. But you are dealing with the amount, not using the housing court to order damages payable to the landlord. In Burlington that was beyond the scope of the statute. The landlord has to go to small claims.
Brandie – when you say they, who is “they” – state legislation? The municipality?
Bob – a couple of different cases, decisions by the housing board of review. In Burlington the office is staffed and have attorney access. Their attorneys said it was beyond the scope. Other cases were appealed to the superior court and they affirmed that the board’s authority was limited.
Liz – so what we have here is another hoop for landlord and tenant to go through. If someone defaults on rent they’d have to go to small alias court and this board for the security piece?
Bob – potentially yes, depending on how it shapes up. If eviction is rent based it won’t go to the board of review. If the landlord doesn’t return the deposit in total, and also brings a suit in small claims for additional damages…
Ian – In a Burlington case a decision was appealed to the higher court and they could not rule on last month’s rent/security deposit?
Bob – not sure if that went to superior court but the board of review held that it didn’t have the authority to make a tenant pay. I read 20-30 random cases on the Burlington website, just to see what they were dealing with, if this is adopted here.
Ian – I ask because the language sticks in my craw. The statutory language says th board can review security deposit issues. If there isn’t an appeal that affirms the security used as last month’s rent…
Daniel – one thing we liked was that it proved for a quicker route than small claims.
Ian – Burlington said they didn’t want to touch that issue, but that is just their decision. But there may be no case law. We aren’t beholden to Burlington’s decision.
Tim – Barre also had problems. Maybe the narrow definition of what they can do is why…
Bob – the Windham county superior judge can come up with a different decision, too. Some judges find one way and others find another way and then it goes to the supreme court. Litigation could ensue. If the board orders last month’s rent to be paid back, that might get appealed… I’d have to look into that a bit more. Probably end up going to superior court in a large number of those types of cases.
Liz – what Daniel identified – the nub of the harm to landlords , when they are out months of rent while it goes through all these things. Last month’s rent purpose is the buffer because it is a common thing. We all recognize that last month’s rent is a buffer against people using their security deposit as last month’s rent.
(there’s a bit of funky music causing confusion.)
They take a break.
Rental Housing First Reading Part Two
Tim – I think I have an explanation.
Daniel – your jams, man?
Tim – It occurred to me that while we were recording. I have multiple tabs going and was watching the Hamilton thing days ago and that tab was still open. I thought it was a zoom bomb. It was my tab.
Bob – what Ian was talking about. The statute that talks about the board of review. t seems like a one way street, but if a tenant uses a security deposit as last month’s rent, the housing board will affirm keeping the deposit, which is what it can be used for. If there are damages, the landlord is left without further recourse except small claims court. I’d be happy to get that decision and review it.
Liz – I was trying to say this is the essence of the problem. It deprives the landlord of the last month’s rent used as a buffer if there is a problem tenant. It makes another hoop for both to go through to resolve their issues.
Ian – I respect Bob’s opinion that the housing board would have authority over this.
Bob – I’ll try to get the Burlington decision, and it would help you with decisions about the ordinance.
Ralph – I have a couple questions and a request. Is there a possibility of adding in that in a year or so this will be reviewed to see if this has been advantageous to tenants and landlords. I’m a landlord that went to three months. Small claims court is a pipe dream. I evict mostly for nonpayment of rent. Court for people with no money? My lawyer says it isn’t even worth it. Get em out and be done with it. The other question is how will this be enforced. I still see landlords asking for first, last and security. Will there be a penalty for landlords hat charge all three months? Me personally, it wouldn’t impact, but I went to this plan because it was costing me a lot to get people out that aren’t paying. I may raise rents or become stricter on background requirements. When I interview a tenants we inspect the apartment. I ask if anything is of concern to you. We each get a copy. No questions as to what was existing or new damage.
Tim – i have your questions, maybe we’ll answer them after a few other comments.
Dory Hamm – a renter. I commend the board for taking steps toward protecting working people in the region and being role models for the state and the marginalized who live here. I spoke to some landowners and tenants who are interested in being on the housing board. There are people who want to do it. Most people pay the first moth’s rent on the first of the month. Last month isn’t being taken from landlords. Having that extra money can be life saving for tenants. Landlords want their investments to make money. But they can consider other lines of work.
Steven – from Green Street. A property owner. There are other lines of work. if we all do it… my job is very fun time keeping units warm, safe and beautiful. That being said, listening to the town attorney about the board of review – it hears review about security despots, but more for the sake of the tenant. Not landlord disputes, so it is lopsided form the start. But no jurisdiction over habitability. Seems like more trouble that it is worth. We don’t have as many landlords in Brattleboro, with time to sit on these hearings. It seems like biased and lopsided – whether the landlord took money they shouldn’t have. There are other avenues to bring these issues. What is a civil ticket? It doesn’t seem like it carries any weight. if the town lawyer is still trying to wrap his head around it, this needs more time. There are sorts of tenants on the fringes – 3 months rent is a better good faith deposit if someone has an eviction on their record. It’s a romisary down payment, buying a year lease.
Josh Wyman – from Brattleboro. A renter. While it has been clear from Steven about his experience as a landlord and this not impacting him, I”m curious how many individual landlords that would be true of? Does this effect them? Tenants are trying to secure our housing. 1st, last and security is everywhere. This secures housing for residents in Brattleboro. Is there information of the percentage of units owned by private equities compared to individuals living and renting in Brattleboro?
Steven K-Brooks – I want to contribute by giving a different perspective rather than chiming in with similar comments. I’ve been a property manager, small scale, and we recently put an auxiliary apartment in the house and it gives us a way to stay in the house and hopefully have someone who can live there for mutual aid rather than just a commodity. We’re people with one another. I hate the word landlord. I read no landlord experienced homelessness. I’ve been on the street in NYC with two small children. I’ve seen life from both sides now. We ended up couch surfing for a year. I slept on the Staten Island Ferry. Police would bang on the bench to wake you up. I’ve got some perspective. The point I want to make is when someone – we look for someone to live in our home. Not just an economic concern for us. As a property manager, in 4 cases I wanted to rent but their credentials didn’t look good. When they could put down first, last and security I could say yes. You won’t create more spaces by restricting how the business relationship can be. You aren’t ending homelessness to me. When then can pay all three, they aren’t just telling me a good story. It’s not just about discerning someone’s character. They will act differently when they can walk away. Putting up some money is a real gesture.
Dick DeGray – questions – tell me – just because you win in small claims court that doesn’t mean you get paid. What happens there? And if the Housing Board sides with someone, how will someone get paid? And the other thing, if you feel so compelled to have this, you should have some skin in the game. First months nd security deposit, plus CBDG money to cover tenants skipping out on rent. If you did this for a year, we’d have some idea of how many good tenants we have that will pay and if the percentage is high enough… you should think of that. Nothing here protects the landlord from damage. I know a tenant who has to pay for damages and she is out all sort of money. This is short sighted. You are responsible to all the people in Brattleboro – landlords and tenants. So trying to figure out what happens on third base and heading to home that you’ve done all your homework. You have to see what you can do for the landlords. Look at the CBDG money to guarantee the last month’s rent. Tenants would have to pay the town back before renting again. It would protect the tenet and the landlord. The Town would keep the money. If my tenant leaves and pays me, I get nothing. If they skip out, I tell you and you pay.
George Perides – Two comments. One tenant said shelter is a human right. It is true. So is healthcare and education and water and we pay for those things. Second, last month’s rent is good for the tenant. Sometime they have to leave fast and we accommodate it. They need skin in the game themselves. They have to plan ahead. It is too easy to disappear. Forcing people to plan financially isn’t a bad thing.
Trevor Stannus – a renter – a few comments. About higher wages and housing stocks nd homelessness… I agree with that. We just want to do some small thing to help tenants here and this is where we decided to start. Will the board be able to do what it needs to do – probably not. It could be faster than small claims court. Landlords generally have more money than tenants. If tenants don’t have money you can’t get it form them… of course. The punishment is eviction. It’s traumatic.
Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki – I live in Greenfield and own 17 units in Brattleboro. I’ve spoken before on this matter. You get the crux of the issue facing landlords. You’ve heard us. The comment earlier about music chairs of tenants is valid – housing stock is limited. The intent is to help people in the low middle but it will come at the expense of the lowest. If there is some data collection and revisiting this over time. We see this in all sorts of housing. Also, adding to Dick DeGray, I’d be happy to collect nothing up front if the costs were covered at the end. None of us want to hold this money – just to guarantee… courts don’t protect us against lost income.
Vivian -a homeowner, neither tenant or landlord. I support this proposal. This isn’t very radical, and it exists in other states. My history as a tenant – I’ve rented in a dozen different units in three states and many cities and towns, and I never had to pay three months up front until I got to Brattleboro. It was shocking to me. It isn’t normal to see this in other places. Someone at the last meeting said a tenant can’t use their security deposit as last month’s rent because they’d lose a good reference. If that happens, you are out. You have to have good references. If a tenant doesn’t pay last month’s rent, the landlord can charge late fees for that. I’m confused by Liz’s statement that landlords would be out their rent for months while something gets resolved – the unit will get rented right away. It won’t be held empty.
Ann Wright – thanks for this conversation. Thanks for those speaking on behalf of tenants. I have some points that might be valid. The demographic in Burlington is different than here. They have a college population. I have family up there with 100 units. We are not Burlington. I’m curious what the percentage – I own my home and have an apartment upstairs – it allows me to own my home. I’ve had it for 16 years and have been lucky. I disagree with an ordinance that ties landlords hands. Vermont is very pro-tenant – it allows a tenant that can play the system – stop paying rent, take them to court, then has to store belongings for 6 months. This can be expensive. Brattleboro has a housing shortage. We pay people in town to add an apartment. Barre rescinded their system. It’s down to Burlington. I’d like to know how many units are owner occupied or one person owns a handful of apartments vs the larger people in town making their living renting apartments. Not sure what the problem is we are trying to solve. Housing is tight and expensive. I’ve rented here. I don’t have incredible means. There is an issue that is trying to be solved with this one thing which lands on the back of landlords and homeowners and it isn’t the right fix. This isn’t the solution.
Jason Cooper – Ann covered several things I wanted to say. The stated reasons are the costs and availability and affordability of housing in town, and how would this ordinance change any of this? If this is passed, it is not going to change how much a tenants owes, or earn, or how many apartments are available, and not how much they owe at the end. Just one part is paid sooner rather than later. Their ultimate cost is the same, and for the property owner, it potentially costs them for any tenant that doesn’t pay all they owe, this one month’s rent is what they lose with each of those. If the tenants decides to use security as last month’s rent, there is no consequence to that. They still owe what they owe. There is no downside to tenants for keeping security deposit. There is no incentive to return the apartment in any reasonable condition. The landlord will lose often. With my rental properties, in more than half something comes out of the security deposit for damages or cleaning. It would come out of my pocket every time. Not fair. I hope you don’t pass this.
Tim – time for a break. I feel like we need to get to town business, but we have some questions for Bob Fisher. No votes tonight. Come back at 8:15.
Rental Housing pt III
Daniel – I was going to zoom bomb this with some music but I decided against it…
Tom – back from break . I have some question to bring back to Bob.
Daniel – one question raised was asking about whether we have data on how many properties are owned by LLC’s vs owner-occupied. I’d like that in the mix of what we thin about.
Liz – we approved a housing study earlier and this action is premature because this won’t fix the housing problem or increase wages, but do this as an experiment. We need th housing study data first. That’s the place to find that data and Sue is on it.
Ian – I respectfully disagree. This is a real issue brought to the board experienced by up to 50% of people in town. It isn’t just a thought experiment. The center here is there are very real issues. let’s not diminish any of the problems. I want to say just because other towns in VT haven’t done this, that’s not an argument that we shouldn’t address this. I ran to solve problems. This is a real issue. Rent is expensive and three months is a burden. need to address that issue.
Daniel – for me, if this is to have any benefit, it is to be able to afford to move into a place. We’ve explored potential consequences and they are really nd they give me pause and make me return to the original benefit – more easy to afford to move into a place. I know how someone can apply for assistance and it is only for low income. I’d like to propose that we take some of the CBDG funds for people who don’t qualm for assistance otherwise. We’d learn how many apply for that money and a bit of their circumstances, and if it doesn’t come back to us we’d learn about that. I’d like to kick it around. I want people to be able to afford to move into places. I’ve been wrestling with making it more affordable and is there another more creative way to do it, and I thin there is.
Tim – I’ve been saying this… my point was to attack the problem.
Brandie – I also want to bring us back. I heard Dick say a fund for landlords if they were shorted on last months rent. I like that. I like data collection and a review. For those renting to section 8, it guarantees last month’s rent. Leases would be ending. This wouldn’t address people months behind. It is and end of lease thing. This doesn’t fix housing, homelessness, or wages. tenants do have skin in the game… a bad reference going through the landlord email list – we can’t say blacklisted, but we know people talk. All tenants aren’t going to pay, or damage… one apple spoils the bunch. When we put in the landlord inspection they didn’t want one apple. We need to treat tenants the same. I think the block grants can’t be used for reimbursement. Getting paid for last month only seems fine.
Tim – thanks. Everyone has different interests. I’m happy for the talk of other ideas but that’s not what we are here about.
Bob – if you want to change the ordinance, or combine it with some other new proposal, you could do that, but it would require another first reading. Second readings are for minor tweaks. We can look at uses for CBDG uses.
Ian – Daniel, curious about your idea on the grant would be to use it differently. Would this work?
Daniel – are you asking if I support the loan fund to landlords? I’m less in favor of that. One question raised was how quickly will tenants get money to move in? It works out at SEVCA, we can turn it around pretty quick. There is a group out there that are well served by programs, but others that aren’t eligible, but three months rent is a heck of a burden. What can we do for those folks that isn’t a blanket ordinance that has all sorts of consequences. It gave me pause. This isn’t as simple as taking side. I want to hep tenants, but recognize our world has landlords. What are our options for creating fund for those who need it? Lowish income. They might have two incomes and would have to borrow from a family member or use a credit card. Could we use some of the revolving loan money to help in this situation. People would only apply if they need it. I can’t see the town giving money to landlords coming asking for money. That would get abused. It would have to turn around quick. Honestly, this is kind of a deal breaker for me. The Housing Board of Review needs to work well, and would like other options for the next time we meet. Not super psyched about it.
Liz – Tim and I batted around similar ideas earlier this week. Ultimately, there isn’t a lot that we know. My degree was a long time ago. There is info we need to get this right. Maybe there is support to wait and rethink what our options are to best help tenants. What I really don’t want is a disincentive to housing creation. I’d rather not have people pointing fingers because this town needs landlords and tenants and all types of housing. I’d like to pause for staff to look into this more.
Elwell – a few things to try to help. First, for this item, it is clear to me that there is no longer three votes to move to second reading. It was 3-2 last time, and one of the 3 is saying they want more time. If true, then something along the lines of what Liz described – many things and many ideas tonight for staff to investigate, and we’d need some time to work on that. The question tonight is whether you want another certain date to hear something back from staff, or do you want to postpone indefinitely and we’ll do work on this and bring it back to you. We have quite an array of things to consider – direct aid to tenants or landlords. There is a lot there. The only thing that is clear is you aren’t ready for a second reading.
Daniel – a slight misunderstanding – I was thinking that it would still go ahead to second reading and that’s when we’d vote. It makes it more pointed. These are real concerns about this ordinance. The other ideas might help the problem or extent of the problem. I feel kinda bad to stop it in its tracks, but ai’m not elected to just be a robot.
Liz – the museum put on an event that was informative and I’d recommend it. One point they made was that the only housing being built is non profit subsidized housing. You can’t sell a property for the cost to build it in Brattleboro. I don’t want to discourage household creation.
Ian – yes, then the staff can do more research. Everyone is passionate about housing. Let’s keep it on the radar. Can you give us a realistic date certain?
Elwell – Nov 17 – you have a special meeting next Tuesday to catch up, then the week after that is election night and we are trying to keep that short. Attention will be elsewhere. The week after is a special meeting to do a land hearing for the Hinsdale Bridge, so Nov 17 is the next meeting. Then there is the volume of what we are doing right now – I think Nov 17 is the time to be ready, but we might not be coming back with solutions. We can give an update and answer questions.
Brandie – the 17th ok… everything you listed is a lot to do. Don’t feel like you have to force a date that soon.
Elwell – I do have worries about that date but we can come and talk more about this, not a fun report to take action on. If you want a target date for a recommendation, it would be in the new year.
Tim – how do we articulate this?
Elwell – you have no specific action, but have questions and want ideas, I don’t think we need more from you to come back with more to discuss on Nov 17. We’ll look at town funding and think about what the money can and can’t be used for.
Bob – I agree with what Peter said. If there are specific legal questions other than tonight’s list, email Peter with those and he can direct me with the list of questions.
VCDP Grant for Groundworks Collaborative’s 54-60 South Main Street Project
(i) Accept and Appropriate Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP) Grant (ii) Adopt Grant Agreement Resolution (iii) Authorize Town Manager to Execute Grant Agreement and Other Documents
Patrick Moreland – I’m hear to seek the board to adopt the a grant agreement to accept and appropriate the $450k grant for the Groundworks project. This application was approved in January 2019. To contract a new multis facility on South Main for admin space, drop in space, and a permanent seasonal overflow shelter. It took time to get to this grant agreement – permitting, financial resources. Even with the project begun in April, only recently a new investor joined the portfolio. This allows all three phases of the project to be completed. An important step in completing the project. The Town gave $50k, then additional funds totaling $250k, which is the single largest contribution to any project of this type. Questions?
Tim – feels so familiar and still the beginning. This isn’t just the Town’s commitment, it is also private donors and a community effort to get this built.
Liz – tremendous good work at Groundworks. (she breaks up and sound like a robot) (and again).
Daniel – important project for the town. having that facility at that standard will be important. Sad we need it, but true. Glad the town committed so much to it. Funding from all over. Glad we’ve done our part.
Liz – this is more satisfying than the empty bowls dinner because it brings us all together.
Sustainability Update and Workplan Sustainability Coordinator Stephen Dotson
Elwell – it is 9 pm, the next item is the sustainability update, then a number of business items that need to happen tonight. Can we move the sustainability update be postponed for one week, and we try to do all the other items… they can be with us at the next meeting.
Community Marketing Initiative – Downtown Brattleboro Alliance & Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce
Stephanie Bonin, Kate O’Connor
Stephanie – happy to give you a final report of the first phase of the project. I’m going to share my screen and this is all about images. You all have a final report. We can review key points. The mission was to get more visitors to our town. We accomplished the mission with a tight interrupted timeline. January to March was the rollout, then we went on a pause, then we came up with a revised plan. In order to get people to come here we bought print ads in Rainbow Times, Seven Days, etc. One was the general target of audience of people who can come for a day or weekend. The second phase was to micro target the LGBTQ, and the third was all Vermonters. We also did digital ads and radio ads. Great artwork. Got good results in a newsletter and Rainbow Times. Did BIPOC social media promotion.
Kate – want you to know a final breakdown of how we spent the money. We were given $42k and we spent $38k, so we have $3400 left. We kept to the budget we proposed. We paid $22k to create all the advertising images. Then we spent $12.5k on ads themselves. Then some direct consumer things, and a photo contest, and the money we have left will be used to continue what we are doing to target Vermonters. That’s a quick finance report.
Liz – I want to compliment you for the work. I didn’t know what to expect but it was successful. W got a nice letterform Damian saying he liked working but is going in a different direction.
Kate – we’re working on phase 1, and we’ll start phase 2. We’ll continue to Love Brattleboro, but change who we target. When COVID is over, how do we micro target out of state visitors. We’re not changing a lot. We haven’t hired anyone for the second phase.
Stephanie – damian decided not to extend their contract. penniless project.
Ian – thanks so much. I’ve seen some fo the ads. I want to speak to us making this investment before COVID – this was in place when we had to market to Vermonters. I’m curious if merchandise is in the next phase. I’ve seen other town with stuff I’d like to have for Brattleboro.
Stephanie – there are T-shirts and stickers.
Kate – the Chamber has masks with the logo on them.
Tim – I appreciated the logos on the masks and had a shift for this weird situation – we want them here but don’t want them here. It is an impossible marketing situation to be in.
Liz – (breaks up) in the future post covid there will be opportunities because of the good job we did on COVID.
Step – yes. The state is doing it too. There is a lot of discussion to get recent residents to become lifelong Vermonters. How can we be welcoming and help them through the winter?
Josh Wyman – a question about the community marketing… I understand funds need to be generated but is it wise to bring in people from around Vermont? There are rising cases. maybe a little caution in trying to bring people in right now. I think that is needed as cases are rising. Is it the best use of our time and resources. People here could get sick from someone visiting form elsewhere. Is it really a wise initiative to go about this at this time?
Steph – we wrestle with that every day. We had a full stop from March to June. We have to weigh public health and other things. I like the idea of aspirational marketing – to have your face out there.
Sophie – I couldn’t find the link to get here… I kinda wanted to echo concern along the lines of what was just said. maybe market to people who already live here, and emphasize community care, and having everyone’s needs met? Tipped workers make $6/hr. Some of these things seem pretty incongruous. I hope there is more of a focus more in housing and wages.. a lot of people live here and we want to keep them here and happy to be here. What would that ad campaign look like?
Tim – there is coordination with Everyone Eats.
Ian – parklets were a good idea in some places in town. One other comment – as someone who just got married, I had to cancel my wedding, so there will be a bunch of people when COVID is done looking to have weddings. Is that something you have in mind?
Steph – a Vegas type thing – a plug and play wedding?
Ian – I am a justice of the peace, but I think it will be big.
Kate – weddings are being organized for next year.
The rest is a bunch of grants and such. All will be approved.