Representative Town Meeting members repeatedly tried to “send a message” to the Brattleboro Selectboard at their most recent meeting. Throughout, representatives also stated that they didn’t think the Selectboard was getting that message.
As an outside observer, the message was simple: Taxes are too high. If you are going to cut something, cut additional Police Fire bonds and not the Library or Recreation and Parks departments. The bonds can wait.
If I were on the Selectboard, that’s the message I would have heard loud and clear.
When the meeting ended, though, it appears that the Selectboard went away with a message that they should proceed with the new bonds, and that the Library and Rec & Parks will be on the chopping block next year when funds are again limited.
I’m not convinced that we won’t go through the 1% local option tax debate again, despite numerous repeated votes against it. It will come back as “the only way” to save beloved programs as the bond payments add up.
But taxes aren’t “the only way” to pay for things, as numerous reps tried to point out. Investment in local heat and electricity production could bring in revenue and create jobs, which could lower costs and taxes for residents. That would inspire others to want to move here more than higher taxes, for sure.
Which message was heard? One that preserves the Library and Parks and looks for income-producing opportunities, or one that favors new emergency facilities at their expense?
I expect to hear about cuts to town programs before we hear that a facility upgrade is put on hold, but would love to be wrong.