Selectboard Meeting Notes – Water & Sewer Rates Up, Parking Meters To Come Down But Rates Likely To Rise

brattleboro selectboard june 4 2024

The first meeting of June for the Brattleboro Selectboard and they decided your Water & Sewer Rates are going up 5%.

The board spent quite a bit of time, though, talking about raising your parking rates, too.  Remember the great meter system that the Town staff insisted be purchased a few years back? Fast forward a bit and now the Town staff wants to cut down every meter and replace them with a handful of credit card powered kiosks. They’d like to get rid of any coins or cash in the system. And Town staff suggested merely doubling current rates.

Comments | 13

  • Preliminaries

    They start late.

    Chair Daniel Quipp – I wanted to wish the community a happy Pride Month. In Brattleboro there are a number of events happening. On Saturday there is a family potluck and Rainbow Rukus. On Sunday, there will be a march at the High Grove lot and a Pride dance Party at the heart Rose Club.

    Town Manager John Potter – I want to thank Christina Howe as Assistant Town Clerk. Also welcome… to the team. She started yesterday. You may see political signs around town. Absentee ballots will be mailed in early July – call the Town Clerk’s office for more info. The 2024 Grand List abstract was lodged and grievance hearings have been set for June 12. A form on the town website for this. Utility billing went online. There will be public forums for June 30th for Esteyville Common to discuss the future of the bandstand – refurbish or remove? Bring lawn chair. The other forum is for the town pool – stop by the pool between 3:30 and 6:30 on June 25th (or if rain, the 26th.) Or contact Rec and Parks. Pool will be opening on June 15th. Moreland has been working on a groundbreaking for the new Amtrak station. Further details to come. Staff hope solid waste feedback will be ready for the next meeting. We plan to move regular selectboard meetings in July to the 9th and 23rd.

    Franz Reichsman – I’d like to ask the TM – I expected an assessment letter to grieve?

    Potter – I believe everyone is to get one if it has changed.

    Moreland – a notice of change of assessment. You can accept it or grieve it.

    Franz – some of us pay taxes automatically – do we do anything differently? (No) There are some big events coming up – meetings to talk about town infrastructure and also to the selectboard retreat in 9 days. I invite everyone to tell us what you think priorities should be for the coming year. I have office hours…

    Richard Davis – a new media outlet for Brattleboro. Hank does this. My neighbor. Brattleboro News on YouTube, and works with the Brattleboro Police Department – like that police show. Very well done. A new kind of media for Brattleboro.

    Peter Case – congrats to the Bratt Police for welcoming 4 new cadets. We look forward to having overworked hours reduced.

    Liz McLoughlin – the board is open to discussion from the public, not just Franz, at any time.


    Kate O’Connor – I didn’t know when the retreat was so thanks. Would you consider having your discussion at a selectboard meeting so the public can hear you… I have ideas to consider but can’t share them. Also you thanked people about the Community Safety Forum – the public wasn’t invited to that. Could you give the public a debriefing?

    John – the idea is to have the retreat for a discussion, then the consensus would be back at a selectboard meeting. We’ll do that agin this year. Yes, in July we plan to bring a synopsis to the public.

    Daniel – the retreat – it is only the 2nd one. We did have members of the public attend for the whole session and it is an open meeting. It might not be at a convenient time. If you can’t attend, send email or call us… we are very reachable. The community safety piece will be part of our retreat. The retreat is for more freewheeling discussion.

    Dick Degray – nice to be back. A couple of things. I was looking for year to date info, and we don’t have and budget to actual for FY24. All we have is a budget. On April 26th you had a budget review. In the narrative it talked about – a concern – at 3/4 of the year you spent 93% of the budget. Given the fire and police department, I’m concerned you will go over budget. And put budget to actual… when you presented it last November there wasn’t line items and Kate spoke up. I can’t pick out things and look at line items. In any department. I can’t glean any information from this. I think you may go over budget by only looking quarterly, and you can’t get the line item info. That should be put on the website. You should be able to look it up, but you can’t in the info for that meeting. I’ve noticed a lot of new people in town. Are cameras on High and Main, and if not why not? And what other areas will be addressed?

    Potter – If Kim wants to add to this. I do believe we presented in April that we were on track, not at 90%. Maybe on some lines but not overall. We were on target and tracking to be right on budget. We plan to not go over. We’re confined we’ll come in right on budget. That’s dealing with lots of unplanned things that we’ve managed this year. So that’s great work from department heads. Having budget to actual on the website would be good. The other thing was the cameras on Main and High – not bid out yet. Still developing what we want to do there. Want to do it soon. Downtown Safety Committee meting every week to share information. Pretty informal. Not identifying specific projects but it has been good for trust building as things come along and sharing info between police and downtown businesses. HCRS has joined the meeting and also some others might join as well.

  • Consent Agenda

    A. Western Ave. Sidewalk Bid Award

    B. DPW Loader Purchase

    C. DPW Air Compressor Purchase

    D. DPW Bobcat Purchase

    E. 2nd Class Liquor License – Super 8

    F. Out in the Open Pride Parade Permit Request – Approve

    G. Annual Dog Warrant

    Franz – we have the updated list of unlicensed dogs – where can the public check?

    Potter – they can go look in the back up materials. Also the Town Clerk…

    Quipp – they got a notice…

    So consented!

  • Utility Rate Ordinance – Second Reading

    Daniel – Patrick?

    Moreland – there is an updated memo from what was in the board packet. The sewer and water rates are BOTH included in the new memo. Anyhow, staff request a second hearing on the water & sewer rates for FY25. This is to align the rate ordinance with the discussion of the Utility Fund budget. Water up 5%.

    Liz – Do we need to convene a public hearing.

    Daniel – it is a second reading, not a hearing.

    Degray – I wasn’t here, did you make a motion to be commissioners. I’m opposed to the sewer rate going up 5%. It’s based on water. If you use a lot of water your sewer rate goes way up. 5% is too much. Maybe 2-3%.

    Daniel – at the meeting, we looked at the cash balance and it was concerning in the future. I wanted to keep rates as low as possible, we have had things come up and the board’s will was to go with the 5% and 5% increase. We are going to have a study to look at rates.

    Potter – we’ll come up with the lowest rate we can to meet the needs of the system.

    Liz – I hope it also studies the water and sewer connection he mentions, so maybe that disparity can be looked at.

    Daniel – anyone else?

    5-0 – rates up!

  • Proposed FY25 Parking Fund Budget

    Daniel – the FY25 Parking Find Budget. If I may, some table setting. This is a significant body of work and it is important. The memo Patrick has prepared and there are lots of questions in it – so he can lead us through, then I’ll lead us through three big questions, then we can go from there…

    Patrick – I’m hear on behalf of many staff, many here tonight. (Thanks them all) I’ll walk you through the memo. There is a lot here. I’ll start with parking system improvements staff would like regardless of how the board acts on the budget. We’ll talk about parking models and what we hope to achieve, parking rates, a capital plan, and the two budgets – current and future rates.

    For improvements, there are some pictures in your materials show various observations of parking meters around town. They are inherently ugly, obstructing of beautiful things, they have varying heights, must be read at specific angles, and they are easily broken by cars, – faster than we can repair them. We’d like to eliminate parking meters from downtown, then install a sequence of kiosks. With this transition away from kiosks, would be to pay by plate, rater than pay and display. Current kiosks – you pay and get a ticket and put it on your windshield. This is inefficient – I have to go pay and go back. Pay by plate would allow people to walk to kiosks and head off… Pay and display would be eliminated and pay by plate would be implemented. Staff asl wants a cashless system. Everyone has a smartphone or a credit or debit card – cashless system could free up parking enforcement time in a broader area across town if we don’t collect dollars and coins. We also think it is an employee safety issue – carrying bucket of quarters can hurt, and they are positioned as a target. We ask you to consider it. Also, I forgot to mention, there is a map in your materials – it shows the layout of the new kiosk system throughout the downtown. A lot of work went into this – chosen to be good locations for electric service, how far from cars, etc. Some are less than 100 feet from a parking space. Max is 250 feet. Sort of the depth of the Hannaford parking lot. We can look closer at them if you so choose. So, the total budget for removal of parking meters and the installation of new kiosks – $142k. Also included in your backup – we got a grant award for up to up to $114k – 80% of the project costs.

    Moreland – Parking models! This will help you understand what you are trying to achieve. The Parking And was an enterprise fund – intended to stand on its own. And it hasn’t since FY19. With current rates and expenses, we see a 65% cost recovery from current rates. First model is unregulated – we have no obligation to regulate any parking. This may seem great but there are good reasons not to. There’s no revenue! We could slim down parking expenses, but we couldn’t eliminate all costs. Snow removal from parking lots needs to happen. heat and electric for the Transportation Center. Unregulated might cost $550k a year. If so, no use to keep it as an enterprise fund. Roll it into the General Fund for a doubling of the tax rate. Avoid this – it just raises taxes. Two other models. Partial Cost Recovery – since FY19, we have been operating with a partial recovery style for a while, even though it is set up as a full cost recovery system. Users of the system pay for the system, not tax payers. More fair. Is partial of full cost recovery the wish? If partial, move it to the General fund and move the revenue to the general fund. Some thoughts.

    Moreland – there are two budgets – on is partial cost recovery and the other is full cost recovery. The current rate system is short term and long term. Short term is 2-3 hours – the purpose is to support retail activity. They want to get as close to a bike shop then move on. You can stay in other lots for 10 hours. That supports people working downtown. Short term rates can be 70 cents an hour and long term is 40 cents an hour. Further away costs less. We also provide permits for long term lots. Generally for a person working M-F to work. Convenient, and provides a discount against the basic rate. 9 hours of parking a day at 250 days a year could cost $900 at standard rate. The permit is $400, a significant savings. I started in 2011 and permit costs were $400 then, and we haven’t kept pace and it has cost the system. We can’t maintain it. Parking meter fees are up. A significant cost to fix the meters and the batteries that run them. Utilities are up 38% – wood pellets, electric. Depreciation is up a bit. Our transfer out to pay the portion of general fund expenses like a bit of HR, finance, etc. $1 million+

    Daniel – want o walk us through cash reconciliation?

    Moreland – capital needs! Haven’t had a capital plan for a long time, mostly because we haven’t had a lot of money and the pandemic stress. We need to invest in our infrastructure – complaints about the transportation center can be tranced to maintenance – a new 10 year plan – $170k yr – it would accomplish a number of things – Some urgently needed repairs – stairwells are rusted out and closed off for over a year now. Need to be replaced – about $100k. Lots of this stems from early construction decisions before, when it was built with interior quality stairwells in an exterior environment. So we need to replace 2 more sets. This would provide the state grant match, btw. The great part – it would provide a resurfacing of all lots over the next 10 years. Every location. There would be annual funds to replace caulking in concrete plates, set aside money for future stair projects and membrane replacements, setting aside funds for scraping and painting the steel. There has been water in the facility – rust – everyone has seen it. In addition, there would be regular replacement of kiosks up to 3 a year. This would be a real planned investment.

    Moreland – lastly, the two different budgets. The costs are identical – and Kim can explain he costs – the revenues are different. One is partial cost recovery at current rates – we”d have a planned deficit the year and the future would be more difficult. The other budget has new revenue rates – over a million – a surplus of $13k. How do we achieve this change? It is going to be difficult but not complicated. raise long term rates from 40 to 50 cents. Short term would all rise to $2, and we could recalibrate the savings that permits provide to make it 40% savings for permits. $675 for the new permits. The combinations of changes can make this system right and operate a parking utility at full cost recovery approach.

    Quipp – thanks!

    Kim Frost – expenses are the same for both budgets. Staff salaries – the COLA and CBA negotiations are different, and there are other expenses with staff salaries – social security, retirement, etc. We had an extra custodian added last year. There is a significant increase in liability insurance, due to the percentage of assets held – their fair share. Workers Comp went up.

    Patrick – the one point I’d make is that if we were to adopt the budget with the existing rates we would be finishing be decreasing our surplus. Not lethal yet, but soon. The second budget we’d level out our decrease.

    Daniel – there are numerous things for its to consider. I’d differ from Patrick in the order. Do we want an unregulated system. I see heads shaking.

    Liz – I say no. One goal for the year would be to have a transportation center that works as a parking garage. We’ve spent a great deal of time and effort – we are getting to the point that it is as it should be to meet our goals. We should have a user fee. I like it because it is the hub town argument. Our taxpayers pay a bigger portion. The user fee should pay for parking we provide for them.

    Franz – A thought that came up – if there is no cost to use the system, then the system is more vulnerable for people parking and staying for long periods. So you are giving sup your tool for keeping things moving.

    Quipp – not a lot of support for unregulated, so let’s address accepting the grant to change the way people pay for parking. Are we interested and do we have kiosk questions?

    Peter Case – they can be 100- 250 feet – will they be parking zones. If you were in an app or something and you are downtown in zone 201, can you pull it and pay do you need to walk to the kiosk?

    Patrick – Pay with app. And in terms of zones, you can program zones, and we currently have zones, but we’ve been talking about making on street parking a zone. One major reason public works is here is because the parking meters are a significant obstacle during snow removal. Eliminating those poles would make it easier to clean up in the winter.

    Quipp – will kiosks be placed to consider snow removal (yes)

    Peter – far less kiosks either way. My second question I have forgotten – So, the overall though about cashless system has everyone a flutter, but I can’t recall when I put a physical coin in a meter. I’d support a cashless system.

    Liz –

  • More

    Liz – the kiosk now is pay and display but now you can use the app and be anywhere and wouldn’t need to stand there?

    Moreland – anywhere in the parking system – and this will be a project – is to set up a system where on street parking was a zone so you could move about in the x=zone, but couldn’t…

    Liz – I’m talking about how you pay your fee…

    Kim – You can pay your fee and walk away

    Liz – people don;t want to stand in line and be approached. I’ve been to other towns with such a system and there is a meowing sound, and I hope we have a different system.

    Kim – you get an alert.

    Daniel – we have an app – not the greatest – I’ve tried to pay and gave up.

    Case – I can park in Brattleboro on one side of the street and Maryland on the other.

    Franz – is there a deadline? I’d like to hear from constituents if possible.

    Moreland – I’m unaware of any hard deadline. And we also don’t sit on grant award for a long time. If not ready tonight, we could ask for another couple of weeks. But soon we should respond?

    Franz – Two weeks OK?

    Richard – grants have timlines to start and finish – is that a realistic timeline to do what is in the grant?

    Moreland – it needs to be adjusted, but it shouldn’t take a lot of time. DPW would take down meters and we’d schedule it so the kiosks were installed. Before winter if possible. The sooner we start, the sooner we get done.

    Dan Tyler – electric will be most time consuming. The last thing we do is remove all the meters.

    Davis – with kiosks, would parking folks deal with tickets by going around to cars they’ve been alerted about? Not walk all over the place?

    Moreland – they will use a separate app – and enforcement app. It gives them a list of license plates by zones that are paid. So if you have a license plate and it isn’t in the system, a ticket is issued.

    Davis – so they have to walk to each car?

    Liz – I think it does.

    Case – parking enforcement walks up and looks if it is expired.

    Potter – if this info helps, we can research it and bring it back.

    Franz – not sure if it is an issue. If the car is gone…

    Kim – they get an alert then go look for it.

    Daniel -an accept the grant to fund much of the new system – we can delay two weeks. Cashless needs more discussion.

    Case – I don’t see a need to delay it. If we can accept the grant we can leave open ended if we want to be cashless or by coin. If we want this by winter, the two week jump would be useful.

    Moreland – cashflow discussion is not on the same timeline.

    Franz – if we accept the grant we are obligated to the new system. Kiosks could be cash or cashless? (yes). Okay. I have another concern. We’ve heard advantages of a kiosk system but no disadvantages – anecdotes – kiosks didn’t work for some people, fines weren’t received, and … we need to here how they are working elsewhere and the problems they are having. To hear right now and decide is a but rushed.

    Moreland – these are the same kiosks we’ve had in town for years. Not a fundamental change, except for paying by plate. Same kiosk will be there…

    Franz – for example, for some systems you have to enter where you are parked, and if you get it wrong, you get a ticket. How do we resolve these things? We have a coordinator who can make those adjustments, but are there other potential difficulties.

    Potter – Kim – any sense of complaints of meters vs kiosks.

    Kim – people don’t like bringing back the display ticket. If they get a ticket they can see when they paid and when they got a ticket. That’s probably i for kiosks. Meters have a long list of issues. They cause more of a problem. We do everything to get through those issues. We get slugs, or time doesn’t register for meters. They take o more time than kiosks.

    Quipp – do we want to accept this grant – the cashless question will come back to us? (yes) There are compelling reasons to take the money and go with pay by plate. There will be moments when it doesn’t work. Snow removal is an issue. Should we make a motion to approve the grant?

    Liz – I move we accept it… $114k from VT Downtown Program for parking system improvements.

    Quipp – public?

    Degray – This discussion isn’t about everything, I guess. The question I have is with the installation and budget/. The budget starts July 1. If you won’t implement it til November, we have 5 months of old rates. How will we hit our numbers? There should be some line item adjustments.

    Quipp – this is about rates and revenues…

    Degray – if you agree with the rate increases, the point is it won’t be implemented. The revenue won’t be generated until it is installed.

    Quipp – we could put new rates in place July 1 – reprogram them.

    Oscar Hellar – there will be another opportunity to discuss the budget? OK For this it makes sense. My preference would be to give it two more weeks – a decent minimum waiting period to get some input.

    Peter Case – I want to reiterate – we’ll just lose meters. We’ll pay through apps. Cashless or part cash is our only real decision….

    Moreland – (more or less…) You can decide on cashless or not, but the grant is about removing old hardware and installation.

    Quipp – if someone doesn’t have the app they have to walk to a kiosk.

    Liz – if handicapped you can use the app.

    Moreland – you can park anywhere for free.

    Hellar – I think the worst case is people sue it for 6 months and people don’t like ti and it seems worse and they wish they could have weighed in.

    Kate O’Connor – I was on the board when we did the new parking system and we thought they would be great, and they are the worst thing ever. I’m all in for the kiosks. Sounds 100x better.

    Liz – my husband spends time reading meters for people.

    Richard – the grant, no matter what system we use, the grant is a given because we won’t keep the old system.

    Daniel – we could decide not to…

    Moreland – the grant is not a general grant, but it is intended to fund removing the metros, so if we keep the meters they won’t be happy. We said we’d replace them with kiosks – they saw the map. They grant acceptance steps the transition in motion. if you like meters, don’t accept the grant.

    Franz – thinking about amending to table, but I trust the others, so…

    Grant accepted! 5-0

    Daniel – so we didn’t one bit of business. I’m happy we spent so much time talking about it. Next, the budget. Are we happy with the parking budget. There are two versions – a deficit budget and a fully funds and changes the rates. Questions on expenses?

    Franz – My question is, ok, budget – how is the $170k arrived at for capital improvements. In particular, paving every 10 years. I don’t think we see heavy trucks in most locations.

    Dan – 10-12 years would be the recommendation – they could all use to be paved in the next 10 years but maybe after we can stretch them.

    Franz – for the Transportation Center – we put money into the kitty and spend it when we need, so that is based on averages over 10 years. That’s pretty opaque to me. I’d like to hear some more about what process you went though for capital improvement program.

    dan – the joint ceiling has precast concrete panels with joints between each. There is caulking and a membrane over the surface. That has caused most of the rust over the years. Based on manufactures, these are the treatments to keep it up. waiting is a square foot cost – an ongoing cost cuz we can’t do it all at once.

    Franz – doing a lot now to just get it useable, but still have to..

    Dan – we sealed one deck last year – we seal one floor per year.

    Moreland – we have expenses that we have every year, and every ten years. We set aside for big expenses we know are coming down the road.

    Kim – like the fire truck fund

    Franz – how much of this is work that already needs to be done to make it useable, and how much is future maintenance? I’m concerned with that project as a whole.

    Moreland – the board adopted special projects two months ago. One was repair to the Transportation Center – membrane, HVAC, water remediation. That’s outside of this. But there is still work that needs to be done now – the stairs, the grant match , prepare to annual repair seals, and set aside for big expense 10 years. This plan, which we can change, provide for a system that seems like we care about it. The municipal center parking lot looks like craters.

    Liz – Franz brought up the most important part – we have ongoing capital projects plus annual maintenance gets us to our goal to have a fully functioning transportation center as a parking garage. I’m in favor of this budget getting us there. And what it should lead to is that the capital improvements and future maintenance will bring us to the point where we can rent the downstairs space again. I’m in favor of fully funded, let’s get back to normal parking garage issue.

    Quipp- it’s after 8, and the agenda said we’d be done before now. Quick 5 minute break. We probably have 20 minutes ahead of us. 5 minutes!

  • more

    Richard – we don’t need to increase the rates right away…

    Potter – we are looking for grants like that (to offset rate increase..)

    Peter – we have lots of unaddressed issues downtown – lots of downtown complaints, right or wrong. To move forward and say we haven’t addressed those things, or tried but haven’t succeeded, we haven’t installed the cameras yet…it falls on us. And while we aren’t addressing the problems, we’ll double your parking rates. As a citizen and retail store owner to expect them to keep paying if it doubles, cashless or with quarters. It doesn’t have to be the current rates, or paid with taxes. Someone needs to pay for it and the people in town will pay for it – there are a few ways to look at this. maybe rent the parking garage more aggressively – maybe a 5 year lease. There are ways for people downtown – on the streets and in Harmony lot shouldn’t pay the bulk of this. It is a nonstarter for me. I appreciate the work. But it doesn’t axes how this would impact downtown or Main Street.

    Daniel – not in favor of raise street parking rates. Do we want to adopt a budget tonight, or what would we like to know to adopt one in two weeks time. Should the system fully pay for itself, paid by parking fees, permits and fines. Or should it pay a percentage – currently about 65%. What is needed from town staff to pass this kind of budget?

    Liz – a suggestion – I’d like to see a hybrid budget between the two. keep existing lot fees and raise permits and long term fees and see how we end up and see if we can live with that.

    Peter – I have parking fines on my list – Town Staff – give us what is paid in fines in the course of a year – tickets written vs uncollected. Run the categories in parking fines. Booting can be included.

    Moreland – booting is about (mumbles – 5k?)

    Quipp – $105k is budgeted for fines. We should have up to date actuals for the next meeting. I see some hands.

    Richard – I’m wondering if there is some relatively .. an estimate of when we could anticipate rental income?

    Patrick – not that I’m aware of? We need the membrane installed and HVAC fixed and another year of joint seals and moisture remediation? Would someone want to rent it? We hope. But chasing water issues can take years? Righting this system based on rental income – the pandemic had an impact on the value of commercial space – we lost both of our long term tenants. Both left. It would be fantastic to get old school $100k rental income, but don’t know when it could happen.

    Peter – a used parking meter store.

    Franz – what’s an appropriate cash balance for parking. If we adopt the increases our ending balance would be about 50% cash balance. ($400k on $1 million or so). Could we do a hybrid for one year. Bring us down a bit in cash balance, but maybe not such big increases all in one step. Then see what we need to eep things on an even keel. Maybe we don’;t want fully paid system – maybe the general fund kicks in because there are economic benefits to all for having downtown. Who benefits and pays?

    Quipp – what specific info would you like them to provide?

    Franz – percentage lower than the Utility fund, but yes if they could bring it forward.

    Potter – I’m concerned about a differing request.. we don’t have a lot of time on this. We can bring back a budget for cost recovery targets.

    Franz – and cash balance figures.

    Liz – there is a relationship between the ending balance and the surface parking fees. The relationship between the two is what we are looking for.

    Potter – so come back with this and a few different options between the partial and full, and different rate options for different zones.

    Quipp – fines are currently $10 for a parking ticket. I have heard that they are low compared to elsewhere. What would a $20 fine have? We want rates as low as possible, so increase fines to keep rates down a bit. The capital allocation is the new element in the budget. So, next meeting – look at 75% or 85% cost recovery – and rates, permits and fines…

    Potter – any general thoughts?

    Quipp – I don’t want to see $2 an hour…

    Degray – Several things – glad you addressed the fines – $15. I also think you have to have a serious discussion about paying for parking on Sunday. As a former business owner who worked Sundays – it was filled by 9 am, not with tourists or shoppers. There was social media discussion about downtown workers taking all those spaces. Our enterprise fund is underwater and we are afraid to raise rates. $2 might be too high, but there is a happy medium. In years past, the enterprise fund would funnel money tot eh general fund and pay for things not in the capital plan – additional cameras. Running parking as a loss leader isn’t a good idea. These are easy decisions. People might be angry. You raised my water and sewer 5%. That will be more that what you raise parking rates to. I’m not opposed to rates going up. We are a tourist town. Businesses downtown – we have some local customers, but a ton of business from tourists. Do you go somewhere based on parking rates? No. Have the rate increases. Franz asked about how much cash flow do we need? The more we have the more we can do if we didn’t have the cash on hand. Shouldn’t fall onto taxpayers.

    Hellar – A friendly way – parking downtown has a lot of uses and maximizing spheres isn’t the whole goal – going to the library or working are legit uses for the spots. As an enterprise fund it has to pay for itself. rates must go up. If it doesn’t pay for itself it goes onto taxpayers – paying for something they don’t use. A dollar from rates is better that a dollar from taxes. Parking is packed all the time. We can support higher rates. I don’t see evidence of not filling downtown to capacity due to rates. I hope you increase the rates and go all the way. The budget has to balance and it isn’t too expensive.

    Quipp – so, we’ve heard a lot, given the town staff info.. anything else to bring up before decisions in 2 weeks.

    Richard – can we hear about charging people for Sunday?

    Potter – three head nods? (yes)

    Quipp – thanks everyone

  • Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing Corp Revolving Loan Fund Request

    Moreland – we have some BAAH members here. This is a request for financial assistance – $16k – to support apartment in homes program. Partial subsidizes homeowners creating an apartment in their home. Now about $4k for planning, usually. We’ve funded this 4-5 times over 20 years.

    Anthony – we were subsidizing 50% of building an apartment or bring an apartment up to code. About 5k for a $10k project. But construction has gone up – now $10-50k to build an apartment in a house. We want to get our contributions up to $7k now, rising it to $14k. We could do 4 projects in town this year. One thing…I haven’t been involved.. last time BAA+H asked was 2017. Didn’t do a lot of projects during COVID, but have exhausted our funds. We’d appreciate help. We’ve done 50 units in 15 years. Helps people stay in their homes.

    Motion to give them up to $16k or them…

    Liz – thanks – I think everything we can o to get more housing is a good thing. I have… is there a restriction on who the people rent to?

    Anthony – no – we want a single family occupied home for the apartments

    Liz – intrigued and pleased about out of town feature. We have a regional problem and surrounding towns need to do their share. I’m in favor.

    Franz – let me ask, what is your relationship wit VT Housing Improvement process – they do up to $50k

    Anthony – not partnered with VHIP in any way. They have restrictions on rent, etc. Our grant – we ask to charge a reasonable rate. We don’t demand $X. Most do affordable rates. We also ask it isn;t used for airbnb.

    Franz – you want to do 4 units? (yes) that’s great. Greater if it were a bigger number. What holds you back? Funding?

    Anthony – sustainability. We’d like to do this every year. We are all volunteer and raised from local donors and grants. Our limitation is funding. Our budget is $65k and have been running a deficit the last couple years. We also help with home improvements and emergency housing needs.

    Franz – all on $56k?

    Anthony – services are free. Go to our website to make a donation.

    Daniel – this has been going far longer than the VHIP program. We should have as many tools as possible in the battle for housing.


    The final bit is a grant for a bike path on the Common. Probably not a lot of controversy there, so I sign off.


  • Cashless parking

    Interesting thought:
    Vt is considering legislation to require businesses take cash on purchases up to $1000 (something I support). If such legislation passes, will Brattleboro have to take cash for parking?

    • Rushing this through

      I love cash and hate cards. Hope the VT law passes and hope it requires all the cashless kiosks to be retrofitted with cash-accepting additions. : )

      I was picturing myself coming downtown to go to the post office. Right now, I can toss a nickel in and have a few minutes – easy!

      Under the new system they’d want me to use a credit or debit card for that nickel purchase! Not going to happen. I’ll just watch the street and keep a lookout for parking enforcement, and not pay anything anymore except a ticket if I get unlucky, which I doubt, because the parking enforcement folks will be staring at phones. I’m certainly not going to walk an extra distance interact with a broken kiosk to go check mail. And no, I still refuse to carry a smartphone with me, so not going to use any apps.

      I think they dismissed the unregulated system rather quickly and without much evidence. Milford NH ended meters in their town a while back – they could have provided some facts. But that’s not what town staff want, and town staff often steer selectboard members toward decisions they would have never come up with on their own.

      I like how Moreland introduced this to Peter Case – “someone might own a bike business downtown…” – not mentioning any names, of course. Ahem. No pressure. (FYI, Case took over a downtown bike business recently!)

      I also like how the plan was all set, the grant was written and granted ahead of time. This was going to happen – staff planned all along to force it through with weak 2nd and 3rd options. Magicians force cards. Town staff force options.

      And, the absurdity of selling us all on the fabulous credit card parking system with meters and apps just a few years back, at some expense (!), then now telling us it is the worst and TRUST US the new system will be fabulous because it takes debit and credit cards and has an app.

      Right now if a meter is broken, lots of other meters and kiosks collect $$. If and when the new system goes down or has problems, how much will the kiosks be able to collect?

      What’s done with the data that is inevitably collected? The Town and parking company will know who each of us is, what time we parked, where we parked, how long we stayed, whether we re-upped or not. Buy that data and combine it with records of purchases. Currently, a coin can ensure some level of anonymity.

  • I agree with you

    Not much different between all your thoughts and mine. The data (yes, let us collect even more data on people) especially bothers me though I stay out of downtown Brattleboro unless absolutely necessary. (Maybe once in the last 5 years or more). Oh, and I do not even own a smart phone.
    One other point having once been in business, how much will the town pay in fees? Small purchases get killed with fees, really killed. Maybe that is why they want to raise the parking fees, to cover the additional costs of going 100% cashless.

    • Card fees

      No one asked about or mentioned the additional cost of going “cashless” – card fees, transaction fees, minimum fees, and so on.

      The trend certainly is to pass those costs on to the person making the purchase.

  • The Hybrid Option

    It occurred to me that there was also a missed opportunity for an experimental option – a hybrid system.

    Unregulated, say, north of High Street and regulated south of High Street. Try it for 3 years. See which people prefer.

  • > I also like how the plan was all set, the grant was w

    > I also like how the plan was all set, the grant was written and granted ahead of time. This was going to happen – staff planned all along to force it through with weak 2nd and 3rd options. Magicians force cards. Town staff force options.

    > And, the absurdity of selling us all on the fabulous credit card parking system with meters and apps just a few years back, at some expense (!), then now telling us it is the worst and TRUST US the new system will be fabulous because it takes debit and credit cards and has an app.

    Hear, hear. There’ve been a few things like this recently, were the plan was all sewn up and apparently only presented to be rubber-stamped. I also noticed the same thing about the previous meter-changeover.

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