I am going to be making the following motion under Other Business at the Special Representative Town Meeting
Motion to establish an ad hoc committee of Representative Town Meeting for the purpose of bringing forth proposal for the establishment of a “Futures Committee.”
Brattleboro has been in slow but generally steady decline for the last fifty or so years. There have been a few mitigating developments such as C&S, Yankee and the growth of the hospital and the Retreat but these have not been enough to stem the tide. Now they, too, as a whole, are diminishing. The town has been able to sustain itself only because of an expanding social safety net that includes a huge federally subsidized affordable housing sector (primarily the Brattleboro Housing Authority and the Windham and Windsor Trust). When we look also at the large array of other programs we now find that close one-quarter of Brattleboro’s gross personal income is now derived from this net. I’m not sure that this amount even includes the enormous support that Social Security, Medicare, the VA system, pensions and all manner of other care programs provide for the elderly. A report from CEDS indicates that fully half of the total personal income of our citizenry is from unearned sources.
Brattleboro is not working. We need to fully understand why. We need to take a hard and deep look at who we are, where we are headed and I am proposing an ad hoc committee that will set up the commission to do just this. I am not proposing the direct establishment of the committee because I believe its mission, scope and parameters need a lot of thoughtful development. There are too many ideas and possibilities. Second, I don’t know of, at least yet, a good model that may already be in use. Until that comes along we must create our own path.
This ad hoc committee will write the proposal for Town Meeting to consider. It’s deadline should be our next regular meeting in March of next year. If it can succeed much sooner we can consider another Special Town Meeting.
Committee membership will be open to anyone. Candidates will apply to and be appointed by the Moderator.
It should be noted that the establishment of a “futures” commission was recommended by the former Town Finance Committee in its last report.