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