The Brattleboro Selectboard held another virtual meeting Tuesday night. Utility rates are set to rise, the General Fund end-of-year looks pretty good, the FY21 Parking and Solid Waste budgets were discussed, preliminary options for holding Representative Town Meeting were presented, and dogs were warned of their illegality. Read on for the details.
The Brattleboro Selectboard held their regular meeting, but it was anything but “regular” Tuesday. Board members were absent. Those attending sat apart from one another (not quite 6 feet…). COVID-19 was influencing almost every article on the agenda. And Brattleboro’s Skatepark was approved to begin construction.
The COVID-19 update and discussion was the main item. Groundworks got an additional grant to begin construction on their new building, the town finance report looks good up until last week but may show deficits before the fiscal year is over, and Representative Town Meeting is postponed.
With the flurry of cancellations and postponements in the area, would it be smart to postpone Brattleboro’s Representative Town Meeting?
On one hand, Brattleboro hasn’t had any confirmed cases. And there is a bit of time pressure on representatives to pass the budget before the fiscal year ends. Perhaps it would be best to get this out of the way early and hold it as scheduled.
Greetings fellow Brattleboro voters, especially my District 1 neighbors. I am on the ballot this year to represent District 1 at our annual town meeting, and I seek a two-year term.
If elected, this will be my return to RTM (Representative Town Meeting), although last year I was not elected.
How did that happen? During the District 1 caucus at the RTM informational meeting, I was appointed along with a handful of others. Why didn’t I get myself on the ballot? When it was time to petition to get on the ballot, I was still a reporter with The Commons newspaper, and journalists are ethically precluded from holding public office. I couldn’t even be the Weigher of Coal or the Viewer of Fences!
Brattleboro Representatives are holding their Representative Town Meeting. The crowd is slowly gathering at the gym, where those elected will be talking town and school business for most of the day. Will they approve an extra 1% local option tax? Will there be surprises, twists, and turns? We will find out.
The Town portion of business comes first, and there are a number of preliminary formalities to endure before actual business begins.
The Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee will meet on Monday, August 27, 2018 at 5:30pm in the Mezzanine Reading Room at Brooks Memorial Library.
The Citizen Police Communications Committee (CPCC) will meet on Monday, August 27, 2018 at 5:30pm in the Meeting Room (2ndfloor) at Brooks Memorial Library.
This is Part II of the story of Representative Town Meeting in Brattleboro. You can read Part I: Origins and Adoption here. Representative Town Meeting passed, but not everyone approved of the outcome. One of its critics was Edgar Lawton. Although we don’t hear much about Edgar Lawton today, his name is ever-present in the minutes and agendas of Selectboard and Town Meeting reports throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Why does Brattleboro have Representative Town Meeting? Why not a regular, open Town Meeting like the rest of Vermont? These questions led me on a search through old newspapers and town records to look at Brattleboro’s town meetings in the 1950’s to see if there was some obvious answer. It turns out, there was no single reason that led to the “representative form of government” in Brattleboro. There were many factors, personalities, and coincidences unique to Brattleboro that contributed to its adoption.
Arguments made in favor of representative town meeting were sometimes specific to Brattleboro, such as outgrowing the public meeting hall. Other times they were more lofty, arguing that representative government would be more fair and better able to deal with complex issues, while giving voters a greater say in how the town operates.