I’ve been watching Brattleboro budgets for quite a while, through multiple selectboards, three Town Managers and one Interim Town Manager. I’ve watched many Representative Town Meetings as well and participated in a few. That’s a lot of meetings.
While I’ve come to the conclusion that Representative Town Meeting doesn’t really work, I know that it has become cherished and it is unlikely that abolishing it will be on the ballot anytime soon. Therefore, it should be improved.
The Brattleboro Tree Advisory Committee will meet on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 6:30pm in the Mezzanine Conference Room at Brooks Memorial Library.
The Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee will meet on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 5:30pm in the Cusick conference room (2nd) floor at the Windham Regional Career Center located at 80 Atwood Street.
The Brattleboro ADA Advisory Committee will meet on Friday, December 14, 2018 at 9:00am in the Hanna Cosman Meeting Room at the Municipal Center.
The Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting Human Services Review Committee will meet on Friday, December 7, 2018 at 1:00pm in the Holton Hall conference room (2ndfloor) on the Winston Prouty Campus located at 130 Austine Drive.
The Brattleboro Energy Committee meeting that was previously scheduled on Monday, December 3, 2018 has been CANCELLED.
The Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee will meet on Thursday, November 29, 2018, at 5:30pm at the Windham Regional Career Center (80 Atwood Street) in the Cusick Conference Room (2ndfloor).
The Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting Human Services Review Committee will meet on Friday, November 30, 2018, at 1:00pm at Holton Hall (in the 2ndfloor conference room) on the Winston Prouty Campus (130 Austine Drive).
The Brattleboro Selectboard officially kicked off FY20 budget season at a meeting Tuesday night, in which they learned about the Police and Fire departments and where the Town expects to find revenue to pay for the budget.
It’s nice that the Selectboard reviews these matters, but this is really about you — the Brattleboro resident or visitor.
The Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee will meet on Thursday, November 1, 2018, at 5:30pm in the Cusick Conference Room (2ndfloor) of the Windham Regional Career Center located at 80 Atwood Street.
The following is an excerpt from some replies I made on an FBIbook thread. I want to share them here in part to also mention an invitation to discuss Town Meeting more deeply. you will see the invitation at the end.
…Without making any claims about whether or not we came up with the right or wrong answers, overall I believe the decisions (at this year’s Representative Town Meeting) closely reflected the knowledge, experience and traditions of this town meeting and its attendees. The citizens in this exercise of democracy gave a very honest, sincere and respectful rendering of what they knew and what was in their hearts. There was a very powerful sense of community present. Not all of it evaporates at the end when we scatter. A few of the new people will have left feeling like they have drawn closer to their neighbors. They will feel a stronger sense of belonging and responsibility. There are good reasons that many people return for ten and twenty and thirty years. In this way Representative Town Meeting is invaluable.
At Representative Town Meeting today, March 25, the body voted through Australian Ballot on Article 11:
“To see if the Town will authorize the following capital purchase for the Fire Department: The purchase of an aerial ladder truck at an estimated cost of $950,000, and will authorize the issuance of notes and/or bonds in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $500,000 at a rate of interest not to exceed 5% per annum for a term of 10 years to pay a portion of the cost of said aerial ladder truck. The vote on this article shall be by Australian Ballot as required by law. The question to be voted upon is as follows:
It’s Representative Town Meeting Day in Brattleboro.
Representatives are filing in and getting settled, as are those of us who plan on covering today’s event. I have to say, I’m pretty tired from all the work on the new site, so I especially apologize in advance for spelling errors and such.
Usually, however, as they get into the more interesting debates of the day, this becomes less of a chore and more fun. I’m counting on it today.
Brattleboro Districts 1 & 3 will caucus just prior to Representative Town Meeting on Saturday, March 24 at Brattleboro Area Middle School beginning at 8:00 AM in the Mulitpurpose Room. Representative Town Meeting begins at 8:30 AM. District 1 will be accepting nominations to fill and appoint six town meeting member seats for 1 year. District 3 will be accepting nominations to fill and appoint six town meeting member seats for 1 year.
At their special meeting Tuesday night, the Brattleboro Selectboard finalized the FY19 budget. They agreed on the amount of fund balance to tap, set a final property tax rate, and reviewed draft warnings for Town Meeting on March 6 and Representative Town Meeting on March 24.
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.