Selectboard Meeting Notes: The Last UDAG

selectboard jan 2 2024

The Brattleboro Selectboard were, until Tuesday night, the last keepers in the United States of something called an Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) Program grant. Before them was $2.3 million that has matured, and the board voted to transfer all of it away from UDAG into the Town’s Revolving Loan Fund.

The board was also pleased with their progress on a number of issues, and happy to hear the monthly fire department report.

Comments | 7

  • Preliminaries

    They start late.

    Chair Ian Goodnow – grateful for interpreters. Happy New Year.

    Franz – I saw some inaccurate minutes – line 21 says the deadline for applying for town offices is Feb 29 and it is Jan 29.

    Ian – Make the edit clear for John and if everyone is agreeable, we’ll move it as edited.

    Franz – It says Case said things, but I said them on line 72. And there were two places with a spellcheck error. The motel conversation. It was the motel conversion. It got the wrong word in there. 118 and 167.

    Ian – Onto my remarks. I have one remark… petition for town officers and school board and RTM are available at Town clerk’s offie and due back Jan 29 by 5pm and you can um, uh.. go into the office or use the dropbox. When we say town officers we mean the Brattleboro selectboard. That’s all I have.

    Town Manager John Potter – reminder we are in the FY25 budget development process and doing final drafts. I’ve posted notes on the budget project page with a near final ARPA list – up to 11 ARPA projects will be funded. Total tax increase of 5.6%. Water Treatment plant process is being made. Water from the new plant can flow to Brattleboro. DPW is also coordinating about issues with storm damage to roads.

    Liz McCloughlin – urge you to not walk in the dark wearing dark clothes – wear something visible.

    Public Participation –

    “User” – I’m not an abuser user, this is Kurt Daims. Some comments about a few charter amendments that were approved in an altered form. In June BCS youth vote amendment overrode the Governor’s veto. Brattleboro affords voting rights to 16-17 year olds. They should get their petitions in. The version that is law isn’t fully matching the amendment in 2019 that included school board participation. They were much more interested in being in the school board, not RTM or Selectboard so much. Due to the redistricting, it got eliminated in the legislative process. Selectboard should put a version on the ballot to include the school board – an amendment. We can send you text. BCS also sent in 2020 an amendment for rent control snd eviction controls. It was altered by an organization outside of Brattleboro to include a perpetual lease, so it failed. There is a public need and interest in rent and eviction controls. Put the amendment on the ballot as originally submitted. Hope you will consider it.

    Ian – thanks.

  • Consent Agenda

    A. Air Compressor Replacement – Ratify Emergency Replacement at $25,000

    B. 2023 Paving Project – Ratify Final Cost of $222,727.32

    So consented.

  • Fire Department Monthly Report – for November 2023 (6:35 PM)

    Chief Howard and AC Kier

    – Chief – Happy New year – this is our nNovember report. I’ll cover EMS startup costs. We have spent $360k of our start up budget as of this – one ambulance, down payment on 2 ambulances, new radios and mobile radios so far. Next Monday our superintendent will be starting – he is a paramedic and is certified to teach required classes to keep up certification. We hit a home run with finding him.

    AC – for November (reads report). 241 total calls in Nov.

    Franz Reichsman – the 6 min to 8 min for 90th percentile – that’s a difference… anything identifiable?

    AC – a lot of different variables and can’t point out any one. We are responding a lot to north Brattleboro.

    Franz – something to be aware of – you have a blip here – what caused it? Mutual aid means some outside ambulance picked someone up, but mutual aid to cover – what happens?

    Chief – in a 2nd alarm fire, we get an ambulance to cover the station.

    Franz – not stretched beyond our limits, just that someone is always available? (Yes) Under start up costs we are getting 3 ambulances and we spent 353k for one and two deposits?

    Chief – purchase of one was 202k, and we had to put 60k down on each of the others – 231k each.

    Franz – just made it (budget).

    Ian – for next steps if people are following our projects, do we have a sense of when the next thing comes before the board, maybe February?

    Chief – we’ll be here with a proposal for collection and what you want to set for rates and we’ll set our response standard and give you a recommendation.

    report accepted – 5-0

  • Selectboard 2023-24 Goals Update

    Ian – so, as the board will recall, on June 3rd we had our first ever selectboard retreat as far as I’m aware and we came up with a large number of goals – over 20 – and then we created some priorities and then five top priorities – the transportation center, the pool, safety, housing, and safety zones… and also we agreed the EMS decision was in process so it is already been decided. We are in the New Year and staff has prepared an update on those goals. None is complete. They are two year projects, but we are checking in.

    John – thanks, Ian. I’ll touch on each. No action required. Making Transportation Center safe for parking – you hired a security firm to good feedback so far, kiosk revenues are now up there. Permits are up, too. Some positive trends. I also looked at police call volume and call volume doubled after security officers were hired, then it dropped to normal. Most calls are still suspicious , or threatening behaviors. Moving towards your goal. DPW contributing as well. A better elevator service, a fire alarm update, more cleaning every day, street sweeping inside, and having someone in there every day. Crisis prevention signs have gone up, too.

    John – Town Pool vision – you did a contract to develop this – they compiled public input, pooled ideas, public hearings, online surveys… a good effort to gather input. Staff expects conceptual designs in February, most likely. Also plans for two more public forums on the concepts. $2.5 million of borrowed funds in capital plan for FY27. This is coming.

    John – community safety – in July you did a range of options of 41 community safety review report. You decide it needed to be updated, with more participation of public, but state government also has plans, so we put our local efforts a little on hold until we see where the state efforts go. We hope to hear back fromMr. Baker in the 1st quarter. Some of the other things we are doing – a grant request for more social workers for emergencies, a camera monitoring expansion to Main and High.

    John – housing – we heard from Sue Fillion. Working with planning dept and developers, the southeast housing coalition group, shelter proposals being developed, board made affordable housing a legislative goal. You supported a development grant for Tri park. You helped finance home repair and counseling services. WE’ll have more housing action plan in July.

    John – Safety zones – the least done so far – we are researching and trying to find a good solution and hope to have it later this first quarter. That’s he presentation. if OK, or if you have feedback, let me know.

    Ian – thanks.

    Peter Case – Transportation security guards – the call volume changes – do we know if the calls increased from the security guard?

    John – yes.

    Peter – it is good but it shows we installed this thing that worked, so good.

    Liz – I want to thank John and town staff for acting on our priorities.

    Franz – so, item A, the transportation center – pleased with progress. That strikes me as a useful metric of the effectiveness. Are there other metrics we should follow? And, how do we know when we succeeded?

    Ian – that’s an important question.

    Franz – hadn’t thought about it until I heard the results. When do we declare victory?

    John – if next year the board does a retreat and this doesn’t rise to a priority, then you are done. You will hear from the community.

    Ian – my other thought is a level of expectation in the community, and keeping it at that place… there is continued work that is done.

    Franz – the idea that community response is what we are after, I wonder if at some point we should do a more formal assessment, maybe in the future. And also, looking forward, the possibility of making the transportation a good place for other things as well. I’m looking forward to that facility being something we can be pleased with overall. Other than that, everything seems mostly ok. Seems like we are making progress.

    Daniel Quipp – thanks for the memo and the work moving forward. I thing I’d like to hear more public discussion of is what work Mr. Baker has been up to in the last several months. He was going to have focus groups or forums. I feel privately okay where things are at, but the public needs to hear from him and what it all means. Public need and update.

    Franz – I absolutely agree. It seems to have moved underground. It would be nice to have it a bit more visible.

    Ian – I appreciate the work pursuing the goals. Community safety is tough for me – it was hard to wait for Mr. Baker – more opportunities may come to us, but it wasn’t easy to push forward with Option D. I am very appreciative of this process and setting goals was very helpful and glad we are checking in before the next board retreat. One thing I take away is the more specific we were, the easier it was to progress those goals. Broader ones are a bit more difficult. I would think of that for the 2024 goal making session. Worth thinking about.

    Liz – I think it was innovative for us to have the retreat. I don’t think we’ve had an update to our goals to this extent before. It shows town government is working as it should. The board sets goals and the staff works toward them.

    Franz – reminds me of the goal setting process in general. Having the get-together and had a free flowing conversation, different from a selectboard meeting and thought it was very useful. I wonder if we want to do that other times throughout the year. It was productive and enjoyable. That reminded me the other thing we did that I liked was the community safety fair. I thought that was great. It could be part of our community safety process.

    Ian – public? Okay… an you walk me through the pool… RTM this coming year something will be on the agenda?

    John – FY 27, or maybe FY26, but not right now. Far from even having alternatives and community feedback.

    Ian – so my feedback would be the discussion about funding. Last year we had the LMP improvements that the pool wasn’t part of. For FY27, if RTM wanted to move in that direction, could they be merged?

    John – probably not. FY 27 is when we have a drop in debt. It’s not clear yet. Just want people to know something is coming… a big project on the horizon.

  • Urban Development Action Grant Program – Transfer of Funds to Revolving Loan Fund

    Ian – Urban Development Action Grant Program – Transfer of Funds to Revolving Loan Fund. Okay, John.

    John – Brattleboro has a revolving loan fund. Monies go into from federal or state funds that the town has been granted and the town loans it out to an eligible project, such as building Marlboro Grad Center. Holstein repaid the load and we had an investment that matured. It could continue to earn interest and be an investment, or we propose, transfer it to the Town’s revolving loan fund – from your savings to your checking account, so you can do ARPA and budget projects you want to do. This funding is restricted. Many project in the RLF would be those things such as moving the development of town sites for housing forward, the housing action plan, the marketing initiative . If you make this move of funds, you would be approving any projects that would use this funding. We have a recommended motion.
    (to move $2,320,912 into the Revolving Loan Fund)

    Liz – wonderful idea. The selectboard work had given to housing developments and that in turn has leveraged a great amount of money in the community and the economic development funds are desperately need and can be without taxpayer money.

    Franz – I did some reading about the revolving loan fun, and that was helpful. I came to understand there are two ways to use the fund – as a loan and as grant and the board can do that as it wishes so that the loan doesn’t have to be repaid. It provides some flexibility. Is there any place else this money could go? So far, the answer is no – no other good place. The RLF has similar restrictions and has some flexibility and we can use this for projects we want to use them for.

    Ian – what’s the interests e get each year?

    Moreland – less than 5%

    Ian – could there be a project or something that came before us and if we make this move, is there something that could come but because it has been moved that we can’t do? (No.) I’d like to know the interest.

    John – $70-116K a year….

    Ian – could we just move the interest every year?

    Moreland – yes.

    Liz – no process for extracting it except for this move…

    Ian – I agree… we haven’t talked about his. Just wondering if… the revolving loan fund goes up and down based on what is repaid.

    Moreland – it is accurate on a small scale. Over 10 years, it has been going down.

    Ian – so is it better for a one time installment that could be allocated out, or should we give it an endowment with the interest we gain?

    Daniel -I’d submit that this is excellent to advance housing goals. If this $2.3 million sits and we want to spend $500k, could we?

    Moreland – yes, I think we could find a way to make it happen.

    Ian – it isn’t as frozen as I thought. We can access the fund.

    Moreland – sort of like savings account and checking account. It’s more convenient to put it in the checking account and make dispersements. The revolving loan fund is nearly empty. Sources of revenue are state grants or federal grants, which we haven’t done since this UDAG. It would get the same interest. It is a treasury bill instrument – it would get the same interest we get in our RLF.

    Liz – could the money in the UDAG be used for different things?

    Moreland – both subject to same. It can’t be used for general provisions of government. There are certain restrictions – economic development or housing or community development. Same as RLF. It’s just where it goes.

    Liz – so it is a financial instrument has matured…

    Ian – it gets more interest where it is now, but fund would be more readily acceptable.

    Liz – there isn’t a project before us. We could move interest in for now, then wait until a project. A two step process.

    Ian – how long to move?

    Moreland – might take a week?

    Ian – yeah, I dunno. It’s taken me longer to understand the limitations and lack of limitations. It’s restricted, but it supports economic development, so there is a LOT you can do with it.

    John – you do have a few projects kind of before you, that would impact ARPA and tax rate… marketing, town owned land feasibility study, rehabbing housing fund… or you’ll have a two step process.

    Daniel – the RLF plan to use income… talks about goals and objectives – consisted with CBDG money from state. A broad goal to help echoic development or housing, or health and safety. It’s broader than I thought. Maybe even building public bathrooms could be found to fit under it.

    John – also, this was a policy approved but he selectboard.

    Ian – that’s an important element – we couldn’t modify the revolving loaned fund language?

    Moreland – the policy document can change – within limits. Must be consistent with guidelines. You could be more restrictive. The UDAG program has been .. no longer operational and replaced. WE have the very last UDAG grant in the United States. Fun fact.

    Daniel – town attorney helps us interpret goals – it is almost always been housing and economic development so far, but there is stuff here about maintaining , increasing quality of life for low income… that is really broad.

    Moreland – one point – the funds in the RLF have a slightly different.. there are more things you can do with them in RLF than when they are granted to the town. A grant is for something specific to housing or economic development. Once they have been loaned out and come back to us, the use is broader. You can grant them, loan them… there is more latitude than the state of Vermont will grant to us.

    Daniel – that is helpful, and maybe I’d like to the decision today. These funds have done their job and can be used fairly broadly… should they sit and accrue interest or go into the RLF. If the board wants to advance housing initiatives, I don’t mind it sitting there getting better rates of interest. A couple of years ago, these fund weren’t on our radar. I want to see these fund be used, so I don’t want them to sit unused for millions of years…

    Franz – not as excited to use it as endowment. Much more productive to use big amounts to make a difference. Where they sit isn’t such a big deal, if we can use them. Do we have other fund that will come back? Have we made loans?

    Moreland – we have some long term deferred loans, back in 10 years.

    Franz – a lot was grant ,only that we won’t see again.

    Ian – if we had more money in RLF, is this a better place for a developer to see it? Will it encourage more access?

    Moreland – I don’t think so. Just positioning to make better use of them. And the Revolving loan fund is all but done if SEVEDS passes at RTM. And all the programs that are funded from there… they’d be done. Small business assistance… If we had some more money there… it makes more practical to place it where it can be spent. It’s a good place to have it sit there.

    Ian – that is helpful. So things that feed from the revolving loan fund… people would see that the programs were empty.

    Daniel – you will know we have this money. It’s not like it will be done.

    Moreland – it would require some nuance. That question might not be posed to John or I?

    Liz – there is a certain amount we have our eye on now, things we want to do. So there should be a certain amount in there to do it. Whether we take it all or some, we should give ourselves a generous amount to do the work we want to do.

    Ian – interest isn’t quite as important… it will get some interest anyway, and it feeds other programs, it makes sense to me.


    No public

    Ian – I’ve managed to muddy this.

    Franz – vote on the motion and see what happens.

    Transfer the UDAG funds to the revolving loan fund – 5-0

    Franz – a comment – I’m glad we had the discussion. Going through the ramifications and pathways was useful for me.


    I would make requests to the board on two important charter amendments of BCS which underwent unapproved revisions.
    First, about eviction controls. BCS sent a proposal to the board for rent control and eviction control in 2020. This was altered by an organization outside Brattleboro to include the perpetual lease provision. In case you don’t recall, by this provision tenants had the option to stay in their rentals regardless of the end time of the lease. And because of this dubious and divisive change the amendment was rejected by the voters last March. We all recognize an abiding public interest in rent control and eviction controls, as the housing crisis has not disappeared. The board would serve the public by placing on the ballot an authentic version of the amendment which BCS provided in 2020.

    Then the BCS Youth Vote Amendment, which was approved by Brattleboro voters in 2019, finally overrode the governor’s veto in June. Brattleboro is now the only city that affords voting rights and membership in high municipal office to 16- and 17-year-olds. If they wish to join the board or be members of representative town meeting, they must prepare their petitions to be on the ballot by the end of the month.
    Although the legislation is widely celebrated, the version that is now law in Brattleboro does not fully represent the will of the people who voted for it. The Brattleboro Common Sense Youth Vote Amendment that was approved in 2019 included membership on the school board.
    In our campaigning in 2014 we learned that school-board membership was more important to high-schoolers than the right to vote at Town Meeting or membership in the selectboard or in representative town meeting. Because of complications with school redistricting under Act 46 the school board membership was taken out. Again, school board membership for 16- and 17-year-olds was part of the legislation that Brattleboro people overwhelmingly approved in 2019. BCS feels obliged to promote the original intent of the 2019 vote in a revision that we will send to the board, and we believe the board also feels obliged to place this on the March ballot, because this was the desire of the students and the intent of the voters.


  • Can the rest of us see the proposal?

    “BCS also sent in 2020 an amendment for rent control snd eviction controls. It was altered by an organization outside of Brattleboro to include a perpetual lease, so it failed. There is a public need and interest in rent and eviction controls. Put the amendment on the ballot as originally submitted. Hope you will consider it.”

    Whatever the intention, this comes across to me like a private discussion between Daims and the SB, with Daims referring to documents which ibrattleboro readers do not see. How about it if “Common Sense” would post a comment with the following:
    1. the precise wording of the original rent-control proposal, and
    2. The amended proposal which appeared on the ballot.

    Some discussion would help about who modified the proposals and for what purpose, and how that modification impacted on the outcome.

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