The Brattleboro Selectboard is easing into budget season while wrestling with the safety of retuning to in-person meetings. They got an update on the Water Treatment Plant upgrade, paid for some emergency repairs, gave out a liquor license, and discussed Town Manager Elwell’s final Long Term Financial Plan.
There was more – there will be new stop signs coming to some corners, a discussion of ARPA fund possibilities was quick, and a discussion of blinking crosswalks took quite a while.
The Brattleboro Selectboard willl take up a number of water treatment plant issues at their next regular meeting. This includes emergency replacement of a blower and other emergency repairs for wells, a project update, and a loan application. The board will continue discussion of adjusting COVID rules, hear an update on ARPA funding, consider some traffic safety measures, and contemplate Town Manager Elwell’s final Long Term Financial Plan, FY23-27.
BCS proposed graduated distribution of COVID stimulus funds and a “People’s Budget” at the last selectboard meeting (July 6, 2021).
A draft of the technical explanations will be available on the BCS website. This is not a final version, but is pending peer review.
In comments at the end of the meeting the board members expressed some confusion about the funds. They no doubt have their own ideas about spending on infrastructure projects and tax relief for property owners. One member of the board actually said that distribution of the money to low-income people would be inappropriate, although the ARPA legislation specifies the purpose of the funds as COVID relief. This would certainly not exclude payments to low-income people.
The first “hybrid” meeting using a combination of in-person and zoom participants had no real technical issues to speak of, but many interesting details to discern.
Big news was the agreement being worked out with owners of the nearby Connecticut River dams. They will be changing their operations to create a more natural water flow, which is good news for the river banks, all sorts of critters, recreation, and even the company’s plans for the future.
New land use amendments were approved, as was a mural project. The board also heard of two new places in town to get drinks more easily – Retreat Farm and craft experiment at the River Garden.
At their first meeting in July, the Brattleboro Selectboard will make it easier to buy liquor downtown and at Retreat Farm with the granting of two new liquor licenses. They will also buy pick-up trucks, approve a new mural for a parking lot, contemplate repairs on the Elliot Street bridge, adopt new Land Use regulations, discuss their summer meeting schedule, review their goals, approve of dams, and more.
You can bring up other items not on the agenda during hybrid public participation.
The Brattleboro Selectboard approved a plan to let Brattleboro Police switch from an understaffed three shift system to a two shift system that will reduce hours and stress. Brattleboro will go without patrol staff for certain hours of the week.
The water treatment plant is going ahead with approval of a firm to build the new plant, despite a bad reference and previous bad town experiences with the company. The local mask mandate will be lifted on Friday. And State Senator Becca Balint described the huge piles of money coming to Vermont in the near future.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will take up matters relating to COVID at their next regular meeting. State Senator Becca Balint will give an update on ARPA and other funding sources, the board will discuss what to do about the mask order in town, they’ll talk about in-person meeting possibilities. and whether to continue deferring Small Business Loans.
Hiring a firm to help find Brattleboro a new Town Manager is up for discussion, as will approving a nearly $12 million big to build a new water treatment plant. You can bring up other items not on the agenda, and/or ask for your $12 million, during public participation.
Brattleboro will soon be going through a public process to determine how to spend over $3 million in ARPA funding. The selectboard will be setting up a process for gathering ideas and suggestions, evaluating them, and deciding what to do. They will be looking for items that give the greatest long-term benefit to Brattleboro.
As the Lorax would say, “I’d like to speak for the trees.”
I’m not sure what the right amount is, but for argument’s sake I’d like to suggest $100k be spent on shade trees. Few things would give longer-lasting benefits to the town.