Brattleboro Selectboard meetings have become very long. Too long, really.
It isn’t the number of items on the agenda. Even a short agenda can lead to a very long meeting.
Holding the meetings online might be part of the problem.
First, it adds time to each meeting to explain how to participate. It adds time to invite people to speak and wait for them to work out technical issues. Almost every virtual meeting has delays due to the meeting being virtual. Sometimes they are short delays, but they add up.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, using Zoom (with no physical location due to the ongoing social distancing requirements of COVID-19). The Board will convene at 5:15pm and is expected to enter into executive session to discuss the negotiating or securing of real estate purchase or lease options and the appointment or employment or evaluation of a public officer or employee, and to enter into deliberative session to deliberate on the Hinsdale Bridge takings and eminent domain matter involving the lands of Tullius on Left Bank Way. The Board will reconvene at 6:15pm for the business portion of the meeting. The attached agenda contains information about how to access the meeting remotely, including the required “passcode.” Information about how to connect to the meeting is also posted on the homepage of the Town’s website. ASL interpreters will be available for deaf and hard-of-hearing community members.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will attempt their first “consent agenda” at their next regular meeting. It is an effort to move things along at a slightly quicker pace than before by grouping items that are simple and require no discussion.
Bigger issues for Tuesday’s meeting include an update to inform the board that Community Development Block Grants cannot be used for direct aid to tenants, SeVEDS will give their annual update and appeal for funding, the Energy Committee will offer up their revised goals, and the FY22 budget exploration gets underway with a discussion of revenues, capital projects, and capital equipment needs. You can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.
Tuesday’s special meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard was mostly about money, but also a bit about scheduling. These was also a good summary of how the sustainability coordinator position has evolved in year one.
Tired of long Brattleboro Selectboard meetings? You aren’t alone. At their next special meeting the board will consider using a “consent agenda” as a way to potentially speed things up on a trial basis for the next few months.
The board will also take up a few other matters that slipped through the cracks recently due to… long meetings. They’ll hear about a plan for sustainability, financial reports, the revised Long Term Financial Plan, and will et a schedule to hammer of the FY22 budget. You can bring up other itmes not on the agenda during public participation.
The Brattleboro Selectboard held a first reading of a proposed ordinance to limit upfront rental costs, but decided not to move ahead with a second reading. Instead, more research, new ideas, and data will be explored.
Groundworks got a big grant which enables the completion of their project on South Main Street, and the marketing initiative to promote Brattleboro was discussed.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will have a first reading of an ordinance to limit upfront rental costs at their next regular meeting, which will be held on 10-20-2020. (And probably end at 10:20.)
Police cars will be purchased, health insurance will be renewed, leases will be extended, grants will be applied for, and the skatepark committee will be disbanded now that their work is through. You can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.
The Brattleboro Selectboard spent the bulk of their primetime evening discussing a proposal from the Tenants Union of Brattleboro. They heard from tenants and landlords about a wide range of issues, realized the problem was bigger than what Brattleboro can solve by itself, but pressed on to work on an ordinance limiting what landlords collect and how that money is used. A new board will be created to hear rental housing security deposit disputes.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen many landlords taking a stance against the Tenants Union of Brattleboro’s (TUB) recent proposal to limit tenant move-in costs to a maximum of two month’s rent (first month plus security deposit). In a housing shortage that’s only getting worse and an environment where over half of Vermonters are rent burdened, this is an important and simple step toward making housing accessible and affordable for all people in Brattleboro.
Yet, we continually hear confusion from landlords about why we can’t just get along and why they are perceived as “mustache twirling villains”.
The Brattleboro Selectboard held a special meeting to accept the recommendation of Representative Town Meeting and increase the Human Services budget, giving every applying organization extra money.
They spent the bulk of the meeting interviewing prospective candidates for the Community Safety Review Committee, then voting on them. The Committee is now formed.
The Brattleboro Selectboard approved a proposal for a Community Safety Review facilitation team. They chose a local proposal, created a committee, and decided on how much to pay for stipends.
Other issues before the board involved the Department of Public Works, some grants, and gathering data on housing to aid town planning.
Five proposals for community safety review facilitation have been received, twenty six applications to be on the committee are in hand, and the perhaps re-organized Brattleboro Selectboard will decide next steps at their next Tuesday meeting. Committee members will be interviewed and appointed at a special meeting.
Grants and bid awards are also on the agenda, as is the purchase of a new salt shed. You can add other items not on the agenda during public participation.
The Brattleboro Selectboard discussed affordable housing at length Tuesday evening. A new affordable housing project downtown on Flat Street, a town-wide zoning change to create more rentable units, and a discussion of an ordinance to limit what landlords can collect up front from tenants all indicated difficulties for the 60% of residents who rent in Brattleboro.
The DPW also shared a bit of the spotlight, with road grants and a new mower attachment.
The Brattleboro Selectboard approved an edited version of the community RFP for police review and public safety at their Tuesday meeting. The Town-edited proposal was discussed at length and a few final tweaks were made before it was unanimously approved. Next steps: facilitator proposals and the formation of a committee.
The revised Request for Proposals for a Facilitator of Community Safety Review will return to the board’s agenda at their next regular meeting. It has gone through a revision process by Town staff and should be ready for approval, but the possibility of a long discussion remains.
The board will consider revising the Agricultural Advisory Committee and talk about local and regional food planning, a new hazard mitigation plan committee might be formed, summer paving bids will be approved, and more. You can bring up other items not on the agenda during Public participation.
The Brattleboro Selectboard is holding another meeting, and you are invited to catch up on town business such as financial reports, water and sewer improvements, purchase of winter sand, and more. You can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.
The Brattleboro Selectboard held another special meeting via Zoom to discuss an RFP for review of police and community safety. It was long meeting that resulted in sending the draft RFP to town staff for further changes and possible approval at the August 18 meeting.
Warning: Offensive Descriptions Below!
Tuesday’s meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard was unusual in multiple respects. The remnants of a hurricane passed overhead, causing power outages and damage across the region, it was the first time the board tried a meeting using Zoom rather than GoToMeeting, and the meeting was hijacked by someone.
The weather event the board was ready for. They met on Zoom as scheduled, using a phone version of the Zoom app because power was lost as the wind and rain picked up.
About 16 minutes into the meeting an unidentified male joined and “zoom bombed” the meeting.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will hold two meetings next week. The first is their regular Tuesday meeting at which they will approve water and sewer construction contracts, set a date certain for Representative Town Meeting 2020, set property tax rates, buy winter sand, resume water shutoffs for commercial and industrial customers, and more.
Their second meeting of the week will be on Thursday, to review the Community Safety RFP.
You can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.
“After our recent discussion about the advantages of using Zoom for Representative Town Meeting,” said Brattleboro Selectboard Chair Tim Wessel, “I realized there are several reasons to go ahead and try Zoom now for Selectboard meetings. It’s more well-known to regular users than GoToMeeting, more user-friendly, and we will have time to ‘break-in’ the service as both a host and as users well in advance of RTM.” Wessel added that “the security concerns we had in March that swayed us toward GoToMeeting are no longer present.”