New Brattleboro Selectboard members Peter Case and Franz Reichsman attended their first regular meeting since swearing-in. They were treated to discussions of rules and goals, the Windham Regional Commission, Representative Town Meeting, hazard mitigation, and more.
Town Manager John Potter suggested the board have a retreat to discuss short-term and longer-term goals and budgets, to which the board readily agreed.
Chair Ian Goodnow had an unusally rough night. He was 40 minutes past his usual 8 pm break time as he explained to the board his new goals for keeping the meeting on schedule. This included his new desire to limit public comments to just two minutes per person, per agenda item.
The first regular meeting of the new Brattleboro Selectboard will feature discussions of possible opioid lawsuit settlements, tax increment financing, loose ends from Representative Town meeting, and more. You can bring up other items not on the agenda during Public Participation.
Brattleboro has had two recent minute-related incidents that were slightly out of the ordinary. In one case, a school board member requested that something not discussed at a previous meeting be added to the official minutes to clarify something. In the other, a selectboard member held back approval of minutes until they could be edited for stylistic changes. The selectboard has also struggled to meet required deadlines for posting of minutes.
Let’s look at the school board. According to the minutes for the June 21 WSESD board:
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.
With just three members, the Brattleboro Selectboard said farewell and thank you to Martha O’Connor, who passed away earlier this week.
The reduced board discussed the small issue of rising waters with the Hinsdale Bridge project, the failed search for a marketing firm, and efforts to become more compassionate in town. The Windham and Windsor Housing Trust got the go-ahead for a grant application to help homeowners, a citizen volunteered to shadow the Town Manager at state meetings of VLCT, and the meeting was done by a very reasonable hour.
The Hinsdale Bridge project inches forward at the next regular meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard. The board will also learn details of the $40k plan to market some aspects of Brattleboro to some other people somewhere.
Compassionate Brattleboro will give an update on their progress, winter heating oil will be bought, grants will be applied for, and more. You can always bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.
I and many others in Brattleboro support the Vermont League of Cities and Towns in their proposal to try a pilot program of limited self-government for towns in Vermont. One of the issue articles on my website is about this issue. But the number one question I’ve gotten during my candidacy is summed up by this eloquent iBrattleboro comment by Steven-K Brooks:
“Oscar, you have done well explaining the problem. But about the solution, you have only said that Brattleboro needs more freedom to find other sources of revenue. A real solution must be more than an abstract principle: There must be a practical idea that we can develop. I think that the missing piece of the puzzle in your discussion is that you have not mentioned even one alternative way that Brattleboro could raise revenue. I think it is important for you to offer sound and practical ways that — if unimpeded by restrictions on home rule — Brattleboro could raise needed revenue.”
Dozer the (Maybe) Dangerous Dog will be one of the first things the Brattleboro Selectboard takes up in the New Year, unless an agreement is reached prior to Tuesday’s meeting. The Police Chief plans to bring additional witnesses and evidence.
The board will also take up other big issues, such as remaining work on the Police-Fire Facilities project, the FY20 budget, changes to parking, and a Municipal Self Governance Proposal from the Vermont league of Cities and Towns. You may continue to bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation in 2019, as in past years.