Selectboard Meeting Notes – The Plan for the EMS Process

selectboard may 2 2023

Brattleboro Selectboard endorsed a plan put forth by Town Manager John Potter that offers an aggressive summer schedule for gathering input from board members, staff, EMS providers , other towns, and the public.  It kicks off at the next board meeting and will be a regular item for the second meeting of each month until decisions have been made.

Brattleboro will celebrate Juneteenth henceforth. The Agricultural Loan Fund has been updated to serve more people and the board held a first reading to find out the details. And green burials and properly-oriented Muslim burials will soon be options at the local cemetery


Comments | 7

  • Preliminaries

    They start on time!

    Chair Ian Goodnow – we did interviews for the CPCC committee. I have no remarks.

    Town Manager John Potter – A few things. First, thanks to those who maintained the island out front and the Brattleboro Rotary for taking it on. 2 of 3 new firefighters started yesterday and will be up to speed by July . Another in the works. Platoon promotion, too. And, an open house on saturday from 9-1 to come out and see the operation and to thank the firefighters for all they do. Groundworks have asked to continue use of the transportation center. We will continue through May 12, and looking for a longer term peer support drop in center. Downtown has had handbills and posters and town has been trying to clean it up. Use other ways to promote your events!. First Gallery Walk of the year will be this Friday and ope to see you there.

    Franz Reichsman – you might call I have office hours on Wednesdays at the library an it has been gratifying and have had good discussions. Now we are getting into serious business – opening discussion on EMS services in town. Lots of interest in that. I hope people will come and talk to me during office hours to start the public input. This is your opportunity. I will also set myself up at The Works this Friday. This is an important opportunity for you to have inout and I hope to see many people there.

    Ian – Great!

    The public…

    Dale Joy –

    Ian – you may want to speak about municipal personnel and that has a process that starts at the HR office but here is not the venue to have that discussion and we won’t talk about that tonight, but you can speak on any other item, but if you are going to speak on that…

    Dale – on what?

    Ian – we both know. No debate with you… ok thank you. Not going to get into a debate with you.

    Dale –

    Ian – anyone else.

    Steve – Other papers had a police log, has that been in there? I would like to see that and the reason is transparency and and aspect of safety for the community and a barometer of how the community is doing.

    Ian – occasionally – in our back up materials and in the Reformer.

    Dick Degray – I had a conversation with John, so thanks. The graffiti and postings have been outrageous and the highway department has been great cleaning that up. I recommended we change the ordinance to make it more penal and inclusive and who we can go after… so we can go after the venue. There is stuff all over public and private property. A year ago, I came here asking for cameras on the agenda and a lot has happened in a year – more crime and breaking – one person had someone trying to break in Sunday night. Another store owner said there have been attempts. Several businesses broken into. A boulder was thrown through the Library window. That is disgraceful. We need to protect our municipal buildings and we have a partnership wherever cameras are needed. You okayed transportation center cameras. No one put them downtown. You need to revisit that. There is a lot of damage and mayhem downtown.

    ian – finish..

    Dick – when will the cameras be installed at the transportation center.

    Potter – it should be started this month.

  • Fire-EMS Transition Project Plan – Discussion

    Ian – we asked for a parallel track to include one track that the service is done by the town and one by a thirds party, with a few variations. We then asked for town staff to come back with a plan, and tonight is the good work of John and staff to propose a plan.

    Potter – we have a project plan for the Fire-EMS transition so people will know what to expect and when to expect and we can all learn together. Staff intends to listen and take feedback as we step though this. Our basic plan is to have a formal presentation at each of the selectboard meetings for the second meetings of the month. There is a table that sets this out and groups the tasks needed to be done, and how it looks on the parallel tracks. A few things on the municipal track: next meeting, staff will bring info about potential revenues then June 20 we’ll look at start up expenses, and July 18 we’ll look at operating models. On the contracted EMS track, next meeting we’ll share a draft request for information to go out to potential contractors to develop and RFP later in the summer. Questions for contractors to be published June 1. When the replies come in, we can do the RFP’s in July. We’d publish it August 1. When the proposals come in, we’d compare options on Sept 5 and bring all options back at a public forum at Sept 12 – a working session with the public to go over all alternatives to see what we are missing – so you can decide in end of Sept and we can work it into the budget, get approved at RTM in March, then start July 2024. At the request of the board, there is a graphic of the timeline for social media to get feedback from people who don’t want to come to the board. Open to your feedback…

    Ian – can I get a motion? Our new procedure is to take a motion to frame the conversation. It’s in your… you got it…

    Fish – (makes motion)

    Ian – I remind you this is a big discussion about a lot of things and this is about the proposed peoples and schedule. Keep it to this so we can keep the conversation moving.

    Liz – I’m in favor of this plan. It shows transparency and a methodical realistic program for evaluation.

    Franz – I agree it a very good plan and a good timeframe. One concern is whether there are sufficient opportunities for public input – 8 times at selectboard meeting, where discussion is limited – and there is a public forum. I think we should highlight and solicit inout in other ways – personal contacts or through electronic media or whatever the way to give us their input. It depends on our audience in town – take this opportunity to let us know what you are thinking.

    Daniel – this is a good sensible plan. The piece I like the most – everyone can be equally informed. Town staff have been working hard to have accurate potential revenues, so when they show us good solid info, the board can ask questions, and the public as well. Coming to the meetings is one way to engage with this, but there is more to public engagement that people here in the room. Materials are online, press report on this pretty well. There are ways to get the info presented at the meeting without having to be here. It stays on the town website, so over the next several months, we will get adequately informed and members of the public can be on the same page, and we can make a responsible decision.

    Peter Case – the graphic will help widen knowledge of the plan. It is an easy plan to follow. if someone wants to send an email or letter, how does that get entered?

    Potter – staff will keep track of any feedback through social media or other means and that will be included in what is brought to the selectboard at the next meeting..

    Peter – the town didn’t post this and let people comment? I encourage emails and letters to the town.

    Ian – I echo my fellow board member thoughts on this, and thank John and staff for building a multi track plan – I would note the Sept 12 public forum seems late, but it is after all information is received, so it will be a time to discuss all the information the board has been given. Let’s make people see this timeline.

    Daniel – the graph is nice and clear. We’ll talk about potential revenues, let’s link to the info on the town website.

    Potter – we’ll continue to develop illustrations for other things to gather feedback, too.

    Kate O’Connor – Two questions – where does the AP Triton 4 options fit into this? When do you decide what the options are? EMS providers are having challenges now, would you consider having EMS providers come and talk to the board and public about those challenges. VPR and 7 Days have done stories. We need to understand the challenges – we can’t operate as if there is a bubble over our town. That’s the one thing not on the list is hearing about other EMS providers in other communities. That’s an important part of the equation.

    Ian – the AP Triton 4 models discussed at the end – 1 was fully municipal, 2 was hybrid, 3 was a town 3rd party, and the 4th was regional 3rd party. So that happens when we do the request for proposals, after we get questions..

    Potter – our initial thinking is that some of the stuff we ask in the request for information. If we put specifications in the RFP, would your firm be interested… that sort of thing. I see the AP Triton report as a good guide but now we are to make it fit Brattleboro’s specific situation.

    Ian – the third model is full fire EMS and the 4th being the hybrid one. We can use the date we have for what we are doing currently.

    Daniel – I think Kate is asking if we are willing to learn from experiences around the state. I read the 7 Days article – about challenges to regional services. We should learn from all of those people – learn from the whole cohort of EMS providers.

    Potter – point of information – staff have been reaching out to other towns to get their experiences. We’ll incorporate that into our work. Not sure if they’ll travel to the meeting but maybe online. Don’t want to compromise the public bidding process, but sure…

    Liz – the article didn’t talk about towns with their own fire EMS services. We are getting the full range of information that we need, in addition to problems a small town might have, or a regional service. We’re also studying the size and scale of Brattleboro.

    Franz – happy to hear from other EMS providers.

    Ian – the whole purpose is to get the most information to make the best decision. Put info and testimony in back up materials and at meetings. Does that work? Ok.

    Judy Davidson – I appreciate the comment about public input. Could he selectboard publish these dates in the paper with he agendas or at the start of every month? People need to know where they can provide input by email or at meetings. I read the Triton report , but then I couldn’t find it again today and it was in a hard to find location. It’s a long report. It would be great to have copies in the town office, you are pretty much following the four options and there is a lot of information in there. Is the hybrid model where Brattleboro has an ambulance for part of a day? When is the date you will send out information to those who might contract with the town? What is the date that is being sent out.

    Potter – the goal would be to publish that on June 1 following the feedback we get on May 16 from the public. We’ll incorporate what we think we hear and send it out June 1.

    Ian – hybrid is working with a third party as a team – our staff and theirs. two agencies working one the same ambulance.

    Potter – we’ll make the AP Triton report is more available.

    Daniel – it is on the homepage in the News column and it says EMS Feasibility report.

    Peter – she wanted physical copies as well…

    Ian – the goal is to make sure we push it out into the community so we’ll get this out?

    Dick Degray – it’s very good. Judy asked – how are we going to advertise getting this out to the public? You talked about July 1 receive requests for information – how big will the net be and how will we get the word out… 2, is this just an in-state search or how wide will the net be for contractors? In MA, NH? JustVT? and 3. On July you have request for proposals?

    Potter – on May 16 will have a draft request for information and a draft solicitation, we’d do that again on July 18th with the info from potential vendors to work into a request for proposal, and we’ll have draft for that then, then we’d have a strategy. Our goal would be to bring as many options to the town as possible. We’d love to get several proposals to consider. It could be in NH, MA… the timeline: June 1 will be to publish the request for information, they’d respond and we’d get responses by July 1 – a whole month to look at questions and to provide feedback to us. The RFP would go out Aug 1 and we’d like them back by the end of August.

    Ian – is July enough time to take the information and make an RFP for the selectboard?

    Potter – yes. There is a lot of work and we’ll be on track to make decisions in September.

    Bob Oeser – I’ll make this brief – John mentioned compromising the process. People supplying information that gets incorporated into the proposals, does that give some an unfair advantage? How do you do the balance?

    Potter – how do we have a fair process? That is very much on our minds. There is advantage for those participating in the RFI, so they can shape the RFP. If someone skips the RFI, they would be at a disadvantage…up to contractors to decide. The RFP is open to anyone to submit,it. People may change their mind part way through. We want as many options as possible. We won’t make the RFI restrictive to RFPs.

    Liz – the responses to the RFI will be public so there is no unfair or disadvantage to any ideas. It can be used to assist them in preparing a bid for o tract.

    Franz – one thought – a solicitation strategy – AP Triton can help us with that if we have questions?

    Potter – AP Triton continues to be helpful and be a good resource. They looked at the project plan.

    Dora Bouboulis – a couple of things – the state is holding hearings about failing EMS service in the state. What happens if the state incentivizes regional services like they did with education. Also I hope when you look at revenues, look at long term economic forecasts – everything is going to get cut. Taxes are going up if you keep the same level of service. That has to be looked into and factored into any monetary value. Expenses could get very high. Long term at the federal level is not goo and won’t be for a while. One thing I feel has been lacking from this whole process about additional information. Yes, the fire chief did his own research, but that’s from the Chief’s perspective, and there need to be other perspectives and you need that information.

    Ian – Get anyone from the state to talk about regionalization?

    Potter – it is a good point and we want to do a good risk analysis for you. Can’t look into a crystal ball, but need to factor in long term as best we can to make wise decisions.

    Peter – is it appropriate to have one or two members of this board have conversations with other EMS services, do a report, and submit that? Can we do that?

    Ian – generally that is a municipal staff thing to do…then it would be a memo to us. if we wanted testimony it would be in a public meeting. That goal can be accomplished with municipal staff…

    Liz – if staff met with an agency that had relevant info for us and we wanted to talk to them we could pull them into a zoom meeting.

    Ian – any outside information should be clearly cited so the public and board can see. We have the time to pu those people before het board and public if necessary. One more, then we’ll go to final comments.

    Dick – every one of you can call anyone you want to call. If you want to call anyone, that’s fine to do. People talk to you all the time, so that’s fine to do your own homework. The more you can inform yourself, go for it.

    Ian – we have a motion. Any additional comments or questions ? Seeing none…

    approved 5-0

  • Include Juneteenth on the Town’s Municipal Holiday Schedule

    John Potter – two years ago Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery. We had a town connection to the celebration when the last Americans were freed in Galveston. We recommend making it a local celebration as well to celebrate social justice.

    Liz – I support it.

    Fish – 100%

    Franz – 110%

    Ian – Franz supports it 10% more than Peter.

    (reads motion)

    Potter – one thing we propose is that the IDEA committee work with interested parties to put together a public celebration and a budget of up to $1000 toward it.

    Liz – the first time we had the civil war monument celebration… that was a nice precedent.

    Ian – last Juneteenth we opened the corrected plaque sitting at the Common. I ate a burrito next to it last night. Everyone ok with that?

    Fish – the burrito?


  • Cemetery Ordinance Change – First Reading

    Ian – I open a public hearing for the first reading.

    Brian – I’m chair of the cemetery committee. We’ve been working on an area for a green burial with natural processes. The orientation of the plots are inappropriate for Muslim burials, too, so let’s let everyone have burials that respect their traditions. Also, and increase in cost for plots because of corner markers.

    Peter – this calls all religions?

    Brian – intended to be inclusive and up to date.

    Liz – are there state laws for this?

    Brian – it is an acceptable process, looked at others regulations.

    Franz – a winter burial – a restriction on when it can happen due to frozen ground?

    Brian – Parks and Rec manage them, and companies due excavation for a Jewish cemetery, and accessed the same way. Funerals are arranged with Carol.

    Liz – if he ground is frozen…

    Brian – the equipment can take care of it.

    Ian – the Islamic burial issue about orientation… that sounds like municipal government functioning. They could go to a committee and that’s now before us. Is that accurate.

    Brian – I hope we have been responsive.

    Ian – did you find it easy to find who to talk to…

    — yes . I’m very familiar with town offices and they immediately reacted. I came to thank you for doing this. I’ve been here on and off for 60 years. Orthodox Jewish rituals are similar – bury by the end of the day. We can dig in the winter. The orientation is the only thing that really matters. It is customary social behavior. Could we have a name for the cemetery?

    Brian – I suggested the “Cedar plot.”

    Chandri- I suggest – the Garden of Peace

    Brian – I hope the board will accept that change.

    Fish – we can enter that in for the first reading?

    Ian – that’s a small enough change, if the board supports the modification. If we all agree…

    Franz – sounds great to me. Period of public comment is most important. I’m fine with it.

    Ian – we’ll modify it.

    Chandri – can Muslims in surrounding areas dump their bones there?

    Brian – cemetery is open to all.

    Chandri – this is great. Nothing like it in 100 miles around us. The reasons for the N-S orientation is so we can face Mecca when buried. Could we put a small marker to put the orientation to Mecca?

    Brian- that’s outside of the ordinance, but generally, yes…

    Ian – that’s just something the Town Manager could do.

    Liz – naming and the marker could be combined.

    ian – glad for the naming suggestion and happy to do this.

  • Agricultural Loan Fund Changes/Improvements – Authorize

    Stephen Dotson – we are here to talk about a loan fund from 1985. We’ve wanted to change this for some time, . The loan fund was unused- to protect farm land. Since then, farm pressures have changed and the fund needs to change, for broader uses in the food farm industry. It’s been in the Town Plan and at RTM and the Ag committee wrote the new rules 6 months ago, and has been reviewed by town staff. so here it is in a final form.

    Daniel – some of the details?

    Stephen – it used to be about real estate. Framers gave us input. They wanted capital expenses to be covered, but also the size of the loans shifted, the timelines shifted – these are $7500 – and potential applicants have been expanded – the Coop, a candy maker, the farmers’ market. the only legal changes – the committee wanted some loans to be able to be forgiven, like a grant. But, we made it a loan program that could be forgiven at staff discretion. Those are the broad strokes.

    Franz – I had a discussion with John yesterday. there is a hidden problem… the current Ag committee needs to be on the loan committee… could they still do that? A max of 7 members and one ag advisory committee member. If it doesn’t have that. can we move forward? Or do we have to address who is on the committee.

    Stephen – it would be Roberts Rules governing – and there would be a quorum. We want to keep operable and make it operable again. The Ag committee has a hard time maintaining membership – due to farmer schedules – no meetings in the summer. WE have the same problem now. There are 2 active members out of 7, so not enough for a quorum, but one of them could be appointed to the subcommittee to fulfill the role.

    Liz – what if we say “may” have a member – recommended but not required.

    Stephen – that could be great. It may not mean much in the end, but it keeps the intention there. Also hard because people want to apply so they can’t be on the committee.

    Fish – is it necessary to have it?

    Ian – it speaks to the purpose – kind of our decision. It comes recommended this way, from the Ag Committee before it dissolved and fell apart.

    Fish – can we shrink the size of the committee to make it easier?

    Liz – I’d rather leave the size a separate issue. It is problematic with membership. If we keep this separate we’d be in better shape.

    Franz – an amendment – a max of 7 members … and may consist of ….

    Daniel – should rather than may?

    Ian – shall is must. The Ag committee could look at this again if they don’t like the language.

    Gary Stroud – okay. I’m working on the camera part. I want to be thankful and thank the people who did participate on theAg committee. We had a good run. It is a wise choice to hibernate it until we have another strategy. It was fruitful and bountiful. I look for more seeds to plant so we can harvest again.

    5-0 approved!

  • Committee Appointments - Citizen’s Police Communications Committee.

    Ian – board, this is where we approved the selectboard rules of conduct for the language for how we make appointments. I reviewed them closely but couldn’t think of anything better. So, we have 6 applicants for 2 positions of the CPCC. We heard from 4 tonight. We open nominations, then we will close nomination, then we’ll vote, down the line, and will go through all names nominated. If two get the most, then appointed. If there is a tie, there is a revote with fewer candidates. Until we have 2 members. You can vote for more than 2 and nominate for more than two. if we all vote for all of them, we’ll vote until there is a deadlock broken.

    Daniel – the rules in 2022 – we should have printed versions of the new rules for our binders. I nominate Carla Fogg.

    Franz – Johnny Lee Conroy

    Liz – Terry Martin

    Ian – Les McDunna

    Daniel – you could nominate others we haven’t so far, including those we didn’t;t interview…

    Ian – now voting – vote for anyone you want. We want 2 with a majority of votes.

    Carla Fogg – 4
    Johnny Lee Conroy – 4
    Terry Martin – 1
    Les McDunna – 2

    Ian – so, it took longer to explain that to do. Carla and Johnny have been appointed. Thanks to all who applied. We appreciate volunteerism. It makes us strong. The only Brattleboro.

    Ian – we’ll go into executive session – I move to find premature contract EMS and collective bargaining negotiations….

    Gary – I had to reapply to be on the CPCC… I don’t know if the application comes on again.

    Ian – no longer relevant. Write to the town manager.

    Ian – collective bargaining –

    approved 5-0

  • Office Hours, Friday at The Works, 8-10 AM.

    I see from the transcript that the timing of my office hours at the Works never made it from my brain to my tongue. It’s last minute, but if you happen to see this, I’ll be there from 8 to 10, so come on in and we have a conversation.

    Franz Reichsman

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