Government to people: be quiet!
Over that last few years town government has voted too often against the people. In 2010 there was a
referendum on Pay-As-You-Throw trash collection. The police-Fire Project (PFP) and the parking garage were approved by the RTM after being rejected by the people. In April the people rejected the 2015 budget
by referendum because of high taxes and the PFP, and on Monday (June 2) the selectboard and the RTM adopted it. (Well, the budget had been approximately $16 million and now it’s ALMOST $16 million.) After the budget referendum Mr. Gartenstein admitted that the referendum was largely about the PFP, but at recent hearings and at the RTM on Monday the board threatened that anyone discussing the PFP would be declared out-of-order.
There were votes and revotes until town government got what it wanted. You’d think if people want the PFP in the budget, they would have passed a resolution about it. They can’t. In 2011 the RTM adopted charter amendments that made it illegal for the people to make resolutions except in March. RTM to people: be quiet. Town government is not listening to the people.
Of course there is room for disagreement about the budget at RTM, but the reasons do not address the people’s concerns: “We’ve worked hard”, “Let’s put this behind us”. The reps want to feel united. So, there will be no referendum from them. Sure enough, the budget is a million dollars higher than the 2014 budget, which was already too high. And there is no end of bad news about the PFP: it includes $184,500 of new furniture. The people will start the referendum, but it’s not just about the money. The spirit of
democracy is endangered in my home town of Brattleboro.