Brattleboro EMS, RTM and ARPA

At its 2023 meeting, RTM approved a motion calling on “the Selectboard to develop and implement a dedicated community engagement process for allocating [ARPA} funds before any further funds are spent.” Before that meeting and since, and during Selectboard meetings, members of the public have asked—really, begged—the board not to obligate ARPA funds until there was a systematic effort to ascertain public preferences for the spending of those monies, and we were given assurances that such a public process would occur before drawing on ARPA funds. The Selectboard’s vote last night to draw on 51% of the ARPA balance, without promised public deliberation, can only be seen as evidence of its bad faith.

At the 2022 meeting, RTM approved a budget that included a payment of $285,600 to Rescue for EMS services, services which no one disputes provided quality patient care; over five years, Rescue charges increased on average 5.6% per year. It should also be noted that in FY23 when Brattleboro would have paid Rescue $285,600, the Town anticipated collecting $48,000 in dispatch fees from Rescue, meaning the net cost of EMS was anticipated to be less than $238,000. The Selectboard’s decision to go forward with a Town EMS is much more expensive and much more complicated than what we would have experienced if the existing relationship with Rescue had continued. (It should be noted that the costs for 2023 Rescue proposal were higher because of the Selectboard’s decision of April 2022 to end its relationship with Rescue.) This unnecessary mess reflects badly on the members of the Selectboard in office in April 2022, three of whose members continue to serve. The outcomes, consequences of their adoption of a Fire-EMS program will reflect on this Selectboard.

David Levenbach, RTM, District 3

Comments | 10

  • Immediate spending, too

    They bought vehicles last night after their vote for municipal EMS.

    I’m a little curious when the public bid process was set up for getting ambulances. Usually big purchases like that get an airing at a selectboard meeting as the RFP goes out and then when the bids come back. We usually at least hear how many bids were received and if this was the low bid.

    It might’ve been buried in the consent agenda, but I don’t recall seeing any ambulance bid process during selectboard meetings. Three vehicles were suddenly ready for purchase last night, with full details on warranty, chassis, refurbishment. This wasn’t part of the “what we do next now that we decided” plan. Staff will be creating job descriptions and so on going forward, but doing an RFP wasn’t in that list. This purchase was ready to go.

  • Dispatch Fees

    While is is simply money out of one pocket in to another, considering what the town suggested the cost for dispatching was, they should “charge” the FD for dispatching and credit that money to the Police budget since the PD has to pay the dispatchers.
    It would be more honest accounting for costs and it would be significant.

  • Ambulances?

    This news is too shocking to digest without further explanation.

  • Just reviewed agendas

    I went back through each agenda this summer (back to May ) and could find no mention of ambulance RFP’s or ambulances. DPW bought a couple of vehicles in early Sept, but that was it.

    (I thought of a way to save some money – the selectboard insisted it didn’t matter whose name was on the box. We could save the up-fit process and skip logos on these. Put no names on the boxes. That’ usually $40k or so. Do it in-house. Everything is better when done in-house. : ) )

  • It was all sewn up

    > This wasn’t part of the “what we do next now that we decided” plan. Staff will be creating job descriptions and so on going forward, but doing an RFP wasn’t in that list. This purchase was ready to go.

    Why am I not surprised? I’m in favor of public ownership of public goods, and the public delivery of services to meet basic needs, but the way this has all gone down seems very slimy and underhanded. At a minimum, the people should have had a say in how the pile of money from the feds got spent.

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