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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

2017 Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting


Good morning and welcome to the 2017 Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting coverage.

You can watch the proceedings live on BCTV and follow along here throughout the day.

As always, I apologize in advance for misspellings. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts and commentary at any time.

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 #

Late start

They are still assembling.

The day starts off, as usual, with arrivals of Town Meeting Representatives and Town officials. 78 members constitute a quorum for making decisions.

Boy Scouts help with the opening ceremonies and Pledge of Allegiance.

Each year, the school and town articles are alternated. This year, town schools go first.

 
 #

Lawrin Crispe kicks things

Lawrin Crispe kicks things off as Moderator. Annette Cappy is acting as a poll worker this year.

101 Members are present thus far. A quorum!

Need a refresher on why Brattleboro has a Representative Town Meeting? Here it is.

Marshall Wheelock gave an overview of Town Meeting to those assembled.

 
 #

Article 1, 2, 3

With all the preliminary notices and announcements complete, school issues are taken up.

....

Article 1 is about salaries for school board members: $3,000 per member, and $5,000 for the Chair. No objections, and it passes. Adopted!

Article 2 is to see if we’ll borrow money in anticipation of taxes being collected. Of course we will. Adopted!

Article 3 is to see if we’ll take money from the State of Vermont and U.S. Government. Sure, why not? Adopted!

 
 #

Article 4

Article 4 is a bond vote by Australian ballot, asking if $350,000 should be borrowed over 10 years to make heating system improvements at Green Street School. Total cost of improvements is $946,000. Representatives will vote by paper ballot and we’ll know the results later in the day.

Crispe - this is the one article that shall be voted on by Australian ballot. Polls open at 10 am and stay open for 30 minutes after meeting is recessed at end of the day. No amendmendts can be offered, but it can be debated.

No debate.

Walter Slowinski asks why this is Australian Ballot.

Frank Rucker says state statute says it has to be done this way if it is a bond. Larger projects go to ballot, but this can be presented at annual meeting with discussion.

Steve Phillips - Do we need a motion? (No) There is a confusing explanation about future reserves. What does that mean?

Rucker - We've applied for several grants. One is certain. Hoping for others and waiting for confirmation. Article is written so we can reduce amount to borrow if they come through. Reserves has to do with the fund balance reserve. We can use that. We want to borrow as little as possible.

Tad Montgomery - other energy efficiency improvements will be made. What are they?

Rucker - Largest component is a window and door thermal improvements for $50k, and will have significant impact on reducing energy consumption. A new control system is part of this project, better than current one.

Dick DeGray - how much money in unrestricted fund balance for schools?

Rucker - $915,178. Deficit in capital fund, too. So, proposed use of fund balance of $130k, which would leave $785k in general fund, then we address the Academy project...leaves $377k in capital fund.

 
 #

Article 5

Article 5 is the school budget - $14,547,425, or $16,960 per equalized pupil, an increase of 10.9% over the current year.

Jill Stahl-Tyler has some brief comments. Questions were answered at the meeting earlier this week. Much of this is language mandated by the state. It shows what we spend per student and if we spend more or less, but budgets are different from year to year. Accounting changes moved money... when I look at these I ask what impact on taxpayers and students. We have a contractual for staff...increases in pay and benefits. We are focused on poverty and helping this kids. Added a technology integration specialists - a shared position.

Largely level-funded to give same good results as before. Asa board, we're proud of those who work with kids - lives are being changed. Interventions in literacy are an example.

Jon Megas-Russell- food services, physical education, music, and arts?

Tyler - Food services - we had a slide on that. One focus is on nutrition. One success was to do universal meals program - every child in schools can have breakfast, lunch, and after school snack. Physical education and arts? Pays ed is twice a week, and arts is once a week, and music is also available (vocal and instruments.)

George Carvill - little disturbed to see $250k loss in art, music, PE... what are we losing?

Rucker - it is an accounting change - associating costs with schools rather than at the district level. There are equivalent increases in the school budgets associating the personnel with the school they work. You won't see this next year because we are aligning them now as we go.

Margaret Atkinson - the article says we are spending more, but we're actually spending less overall? Correct?

Rucker - yes. The legislature requires us to publish it that way. Budget is down 9% but cost per student is up substantially. We discussed this earlier. School district must use state statistic, they equally it, then we use it to calculate cost per student. Actual enrollment is relatively level, but state includes pre-K and other laws, substantially changing computation of students. We had reserves last year. This year we think it is understated. This is what we have to work with as part of the funding law. Taxes are estimated to be down is the bottom line.

David Gartenstein - how much taxes are anticipated to be down?

Rucker - estimated to be down half a cent. Current tax rate equalized adjusted rate for preK - 12 is $1.0622 and $1.0615 in the new year.

Kathryn Turnas - is this budget taking into consideration what we all know is coming from the feds?

Ron Stahley - this was warned before any federal budgets. For Title 2a... professional development money will be cut, about $300k for our district. We use it for partial funding for 4 positions. Didn't anticipate it with this budget, but we do have a reserve account, we'll be OK until next year.

Michael Bosworth - The new positions I support. My worry is in future years. If we have to sustain cuts, will we take away some of the new adds?

Stahley - We have a great veteran teaching staff with an ongoing turnover rate that allows us to hire great new experience with less experience. We save some money. We'll be okay with our turnover rates and keeping an excellent staff.

Peter Falion - I fully support new social worker position at Academy. Opioid crisis is very concerning. Thanks for report. As we fund this, should we anticipate social workers at the other schools? Can we anticipate additional support at other schools?

Stahl-Tyler - watch our old meetings on BCTV to get full details. Board is trying to work with existing agencies. It's a big problem. Administrators have been looking for help. Do we need more? The idea is to coordinate efforts between three schools - maybe not a social worker in each school but coordination.

Bob Tortolani - thanks to all who work with kids and families. More than just teaching now. Lots of social support. It can take a toll on them. They are working hard. Can't pay them enough. Just want to thank them.

Valerie Stuart - State Rep. echoes Totolani's remarks. Doing amazing work in difficult time! Wave of the future is a social worker. Schools are picking up slack.I applaud your hard work. Greatest resource is working together. We'll do better because we have to. We're moving to a very positive future.

School budget approved! Unanimous!

So ends the official school portion of the meeting.

 
 #

Additional Thanks

Jill Stahl Tyler thanks some retiring school officials.

Todd Roach, after 3 years of service.
Mark Truman, after 10 years of service.
Ron Stahley - for 15 years of service.

Lyle Holiday will be new superintendent.

 
 #

An Act 46 update?

Crispe: Should the schools give an update on Act 46, by suspending the rules.

Tom Franks - is this binding?

Crispe - no, this is other business.

Ben Copans - can you limit the time of discussion of Act 46 to not more than an hour and a half?

(much laughter)

Crispe - first lets see if we suspend rules, then place a time limit. Shall we suspend rules?

Agave - will there still be a discussion at the end of the meeting as well? This info should wait until then, otherwise it will be incoherent. It should all be in one place.

Crispe - Chair's intent is to debate this once. If you suspend rules, we'll do it all now.

(They count, looking for a 2/3 vote.)

 
 #

Act 46

They suspend the rules and allow debate.

Jill Stahl-Tyler - thanks for thoughtful comments and respect. Hope tone continues in that same vein.

In Nov 2015, all boards in the supervisory union agreed to study the options. No immediate plans to merge... we've all changed our minds. Since then, met for about 90 hours. 17 months of updates and feedback. What's best for the children? We either merge or price we are equitable, says the state. We all agree unanimously, we do not offer the same needed activities to all. Universal meals, or tutoring and academic assistance. We've thought of the merger - there is accelerated, which is the way we prefer to meet goals of law. One district with 5 towns. But Vernon would need to give up school choice, so we didn't push for a vote. In August Vernon voted to be released from district, so they can keep school choice and other towns can go on. Requires release of others towns. Dummerston said no, and revoted and said no.

So, Vernon would file an injunction to stop any consideration if they were included in any way. Since Dummerston refuses to let them out, and Vernon won't warn a vote and will file an injunction - so we can't go forward with Act 46 because we can't dissolve the union.

There is an act at the state level to let Vernon do their own thing, but it isn't a law and calendar won't allow it before June 30.

The "alternative structure" has a July 2019 deadline. Does not include tax incentives. ($1 million for first year only - lost this by not acting fast). No small grants or transition funding, either with alternative structure. Must be a supervisory union with member districts. We have to show this is better. Can't do this without dissolving the union high school. Law says we already fail on many levels - not collectively responsible for all towns, just Brattleboro. Act 46 is about all taking care of everyone. We don't share non-financial resources - staff, etc - among schools now. Smallest schools would need to be similar in funding. We do meet average number of students required.

When people say consider alternatives, we spent 17 months looking at this issues. Boards all decided. We have meeting minutes and videos to prove it. We can move forward and merge in smaller groups, but doesn't meet Act 46 goals. We may be assigned to another district. State may decide for us. So, questions?

Kurt Daims - curious about effects of possible withdrawal of Vernon on payments of school construction bond. If they withdrew, how would Brattleboro be compensated, or would there be a loss of bond payments?

Rucker - not an option. Unlikely to come to that. If it did, Vernon has always had choice and they send 80% to BUHS and they'd continue, and they'd pay tuition, so that would pay debt. Only if BUHS was sold would legal issue arise.

 
 #

Act 46 Non Binding Resolution

Andy Davis reads his resolution - no merger yet, so we reps direct town school board (not study committee) to explore alternative structures in Act 46 - pg 17 - self-evaluation - and we direct them to have 2 public meetings to explore the options.

Davis - study group is at an impasse. It's stuck. The way forward is uncertain with study group. Legislature is struggling to modify situations around the state. Even those adjustments are in flux. If Brattleboro decided to do nothing, then we are subject to discretion of Dept of Ed to determine what we do. A path forward- Sec 9 - is for individual boards to enter into self-evaluation and propose an alternative. Equity in student activity and sustainable cost are the goals. It could be that we have a different type of supervisory union. We can also look at other legal options. This deals with impasse in constructive and open way.

Stahl-Tyler - I hear what he's saying, but it is what we've been doing. What's the difference with the study committee? Why continue it?

Davis - What we have been doing brought us to an impasse, and the law gives us other options that aren't study group options.

Stahley - over last year and a half, the study committee has brough all discussions to individual boards - looked at lots of models - modified union districts, etc. Look at study committee articles. Articles of Agreement outline the whole process. You are asking for what we are doing and will continue to do. We'll work with state, and with individual boards. Don't want to force Vernon on Dummerston. What is good for kids? Consistent! The alternative is we do nothing, or do self-study and say were doing everything OK. The state will decide... unless our study committee can convince them We've been doing that process.

Chris Chapman - could chair support or oppose the motion for the record? One of the most complex issues I've ever had to vote on.

Stahl-Tyler - I still don't understand motion, so not supporting it. I don't want to hear it as criticism of our study committee. I hear tones of that. What's that supposed to mean. I don't think motion is necessary, and it is non-binding. It feels wrong.

Hyam Siegel - Mr. Davis - give a for-instance of an alternative not worked on that they should consider?

Davis - I come to study group meetings - poorly attended, hard to follow on TV. Brattleboro Town School Board should hold two public hearings to talk about the way forward. It's in flux. Let's expand the conversation and better comprehend issues at hand. How will Act 46 impact town school budget and town school students? People don't understand specifics. Promises of funding falling through. Just want people of Brattleboro to better understand this in this time of flux and frustration.

Spoon Agave - one thing that changes is study committee - there was no sense of where the public stood. Now there's been a lot more information. One concept in my mind is consolidation and loss of public control. We sit here recognizing importance of town meeting because it ties us together every year. Suppose there was proposal that this was inefficient and in a few years we needed to dissolve town gov't and go to regional government. That would be an enormous cultural change. This sin't that big, but it is a significant cultural change. What will we no longer control? Is it important? I'd be happy to look into what we are now hearing from public about their concerns.

Chair - polls are now open for Australian Ballot vote - cast ballots any time.

David Schoales - Town Meeting is the difference between the study committee work. Self-study is the only option to allow us to keep our school boards, and we have to show we are responsible to all that we serve. Self-study is the only way to keep town meeting. I don't support the mergers. Intention of Act 46 - not intended to close schools, or to give up choice. Committee is struggling with complexity of law. The only part of the law that allows us to do something is the self-study, or an alternative merger. We want to keep schools at town meeting.

They vote on the non-binding resolution.

The vote is close... they're going to count.

Results - 46 yes, 59 no. Davis Resolution is defeated.

.....

Carvill - new motion: whereas it's been difficult to come to agreement and Act 46 can compel mergers, and Vermont has long history of local control. We request state senators and reps to work with Dept of Ed, or introduce legislation, so no merger takes place here without affirmative action of voters involved.

Carvill - this is about local control. That's the intention. asking for state legislator help to go to bat for us in Montpelier.

Chris Chapman - I support it. This legislation needs work. Overwhelmed with unknowns, and the unknowns are unacceptable.

Daryl Mcelveen - if we vote for an alternative, would it happen, or would it have to be accepted by the union?

Stanley - any alternative structure with a financial impact would be a problem. The alternative structure would have to approved at state level to achieve goals of Act 46.

Walter Slowinski - request that state reps present would speak to this and how they see their role in resolving these problems.

Tristan Toleno - we are all working on this. This year, Act 46 work has been taking testimony. We'll get a chance to look at what emerges. We hear there are concerns. It sounds like you'd like us to stop the state from getting involved. Probably won't pass, as there is support for Act 46. There are some problems. We will be looking at this when it comes to the House, and Senate is working on it too.

George Harvey - I find Act 46 unbearably complicated and hard to understand. The entire thing - it astounds me that the constitution would allow such legislation. We should keep local control as much as possible.

Jim Maxwell - double negative confusion. Tristan - majority view is that state should have power or should be local?

Tristan Toleno - My read on where bodies of legislature stands - no majority support for fundamental change to Act 46, or on ability of state to make decisions for those towns that don't decide. I had problems all along - no metrics included, no criteria for judging local communities. Overall concept is unlikely to change. State has imposed a process for new districts or alternative models. State will impose solution if we don't find one. No majority yet to scrap role of Board of Education at state level, though.

Mollie Burke - I was against Act 46 due to local control and clarity. We will work hard to represent interests of Brattleboro. Can't change law significantly, but can advocate for our situation.

Daryl Mcelveen - sounds like Vernon is taking a principled stand. Will the state overrule them? If we take a stand will they overrule us? Would they help us?

Stahley - Vernon can leave district and they'd be a single district that gets assigned, or stays as a s"side by side". We told them they could contract services with our district. Down the road, tax issues and benefits would cause small district to join the union.

They vote. It appears to pass.

A division is requested, so they count:

The non-binding resolution passes, by a vote of 72-34.

Stahl-TYler - just want to reassure that it is unbearably complex. Didn't want community meetings while we were up in the air. We'll hold more meetings and welcome you to come hear about this lovely law.

Cassandra Holloway - thanks for videos. We work with schools via BAPC. Resources are shared already, but there are some gaps.

Chair calls for brief recess of 15 minutes.

 
 #

The Brattleboro Shop

Midpoint advertisement.

We have a new online store called the Brattleboro Shop, with cool Brattleboro-related gifts and items. Check it out!

They've reassembled and we're back.

 
 #

Articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

We are now in the Town portion of the program.

Article 6 is to see if the Town and Town Schools should accept the auditor’s reports.

DeGray - John O'Connor has done a great job with our finances. Let's recognize him and his staff. (Applause)

Auditor's Report accepted!

...

Article 7 is to see if the Town and Town Schools should employ a Certified Public Accountant. Yes, they shall.

Kurt Daims - the seating of Selectboard is contrary to Charter and I have quotes to recite from Charter supporting proposition that this assembly is a single body without two-tier system. The should sit with us.

Crispe - out of order on this Article. This deals with appointment of position. Other business.

...

Article 8 appoints Hilary Francis, officially, as our new Town Clerk. (It’s not mentioned much, but she’s also appointed as the Town School District Clerk, as well.)

So appointed!

....

Article 9 re-appoints John O’Connor as Town and Town School District Treasurer. No controversy there.

...

Article 10 re-appoints Fisher and Fisher Law Offices as Town Attorney. Re-appointed!

 
 #

Article 11, 12, 13

Article 11 is to elect two representatives to the Capital Grant Review Board. Nominations come from the floor.

Alyssa Todd and Georges Herzog nominated. Herzog not there.

(Tad Montgomery asks if Georges wanted the job. Crispe says yes.)

Alyssa Todd and Georges Herzog accepted.

..

Article 12 does the same with the Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee. Two nominations from the floor are required, and the Representative Town Meeting Moderator can make further appointments during the year.

Six names - Franz Reichsman , Avery Schwenck, Ralph Meima, Abby Sweeney, Alex Fischer, Scott Smith.

All approved, and moderator can appoint others.

..

Article 13 is to elect Brooks Library Trustees. Connie Bresnahan, Jenny Rowe and ... someone to be named from the floor.

Amity DeAngelis is named from the floor.

All appointed!

 
 #

Article 14, 15, 16

Article 14 is to ask permission to borrow money in anticipation of taxes and other revenue.

Spoon Agave - to what extent does the Town actually borrow money for this purpose.

Peter Ewell - we have no intention but we can if there's an emergency that requires it.

RTM says yes.

...

Article 15 sets Selectboard salaries - $3,000 per member, and $5,000 for the Chair.

(Minor typo - FY17 to FY18 - corrected)

Kurt Daims - are we considering the Finance Committee's report on this later, or should we do it now.

Franz Reichsman. We looked at this issue over the last year and are reporting back. Hopefully you have a copy of our report. We went down two paths. What's already known on board compensation, and effects on town boards. Avery Schwenck , Maya Hasegawa and Ralph Meima helped. No body of knowledge. We looked at similar towns. We're in same range, near high end, but close to what people get in other places around the state. Our second path was to do a survey of town meeting reps and current and former board members opinions.

Ralph Meima - goal of survey was to gauge opinion of compensation levels. Exploratory survey only. Opinion gather exercise. Any clear consensus or disagreement? Town mtg reps and current and former board members weighed in. Got about 54 responses. Results - most opinions were in $2-8k range. Compensation didn't influence decisions to run, but this is self-selected. Didn't survey people who didn't run... Current board members find compensation fine. Town meeting reps interested in running for board positions. Also interesting, 85% of reps felt income diversity on town boards should be important goal of the town. Then we gathered open comments - many noted large amount of time required of board members. Many felt people should not use town office as income. It's civic duty not a monetary endeavor. Some thought other incentives would increase diversity of boards. And, some comments dealt with child care costs being a barrier. Look at the report. Will be posted on finance committee web page.

Maya Hasegawa - when we looked at all the towns, Burlington Town Clerk said there is some movement to do something here. Council will undertake a salary study. They allocated money to do it. They'll hire a professional, not 3-4 of us amateurs. For future reference, it might be interesting to see what they come up with in the next year. They pay about what we pay now.

Franz - couple of observations. On Town web site if you want to look at it. Based on what we did - no consensus to raise it. Further study is appropriate. Study didn't look at child care, I'd add in elder care. Some kind of reimbursement for that might open up board participation to more.

Daims - not an expert but there was a serious survey flaw - question 4 was what salary would you recommend for select board, and next question was what would you realistically recommend. The survey shows bias against the "unrealistic". Otherwise, well done. Surveys are tricky. Consultants should help. Surveys can sway bodies. I'd amend the proposal as I do every year, adding $500 to each. Now to $20k and $25k.

Crispe - increments of $500?

Daims - that was in the past. I say $20k for members and $25k for Chair. In the name of income diversity for the board.

Crispe - you want to amend to increase the salaries. Shall we increase to $20k/$25k?

Chris Chapman - a bit indignant about this. It is foolish. When I was on Selectboard there were steep cuts to proposed items from dept heads. That has to happen every year. The budget doesn't meet all our needs. If we cut here and there, why not us board members, too. It was met with silence. Barb Sondag said there are people who need to cover expenses for child care. I don't know what that costs. We may have a new member who needs child care assistance so she can do her job without worrying about kids. No one runs for office for the money. $75k would be a fairer figure. No one does it for the money. The trouble, worry, street, troublemakers coming with minor irritating foolish initiatives. The status quo is fine. But should pay for child care above this symbolic compensation. $20-25k is laughable and foolish and silly.

David Gartenstein - looking at money paid to select board members - requires looking at how municipal government work. It's not our day job. We do municipal oversight as citizens. We have a lean, mean team of municipal employees who provide services. Biggest risks we face is micromanagement. We need to stay away as Selectboard. With 25k selectboard members would look for ways to insert themselves. Our job is citizen oversight. 3-5k levels are appropriate. 20-25k is inconsistent with our form of government.

Brandie Starr - Daims comes from a good place, but it is vitality important to protect civic duty. What drove me to run wasn't money. It was the feeling I went to Town Hall. The raise would change things. Child care, elder care I could entertain, but I want to protect the way things are currently.

Summer Burch - I agree with Brandie. Compensation is appropriate. Bring diversity by providing child care at meetings to bring diversity amongst age, income, sex. On-site for everyone to attend meetings would be way to look at it.

Jim Maxwell - all respect to Chris - troublemakers and foolishness are a part of what we're about. This is about expanding access, and enabling people to participate. Maybe we could look at past Selectboard makeup to see if we're missing a demographic. Maybe child care., Maybe transportation issues. I appreciate that Kurt gets the discussion going.

HB Lozito - didn't see reflected that a sliding scale was considered. Maybe dif amounts based on income or some other metric?

Frans Reichsman - that never occurred to us and we didn't look at it. Rutland does it.

Maya Hasegawa - Rutland has stangests system of compensation - people get paid different amounts, but couldn't tell me on what it was based.

Dick DeGray - At the end of the day... we need a number to approve of spending next year. If you want to provide child care, it has to be part of this. I don't know those numbers, but we have to approve a number. Picking it out of the air isn't the right way to do that. 2012 is when compensation was raised to what it is today. When Chris said we don't do it for the money, if we got 75k I'd reconsider, but I agree with Gartenstein. There are always issues that may preclude us from running, and we should work on this issues. No one serves for the compensation. This should be a 5 year recurring question. You should consider it every 5 years, not every year. I enjoy Kurt, but don't support this. I won't vote for it. Current levels are adequate. Other forms of compensation should be examined. You still need to be elected. I'm voting no.

Orion Barber - I ran to become a RTM rep because of my father, who was a 50 year moderator in Bennington. To be on the select board is an honor. The money paid never came up.... you were selected by the town to lead the town. The select board is part of the government. The government of Brattleboro is all of us. We are it. We can dispense with this motion quickly and get on to other business. In our Charter - this is a living document with checks and balances... can legislate for the good of the people. Many people in our town are very poor. Anything that would separate the select board from people who have little money through large enumeration would be bad for this town.

Terry Carter - on Chapman's statement - I'm hear to listen. I have issue with him marginalizing passionate people. Everyone judges people who aren;t used to taking in front of a room or camera. People could use more support from people in this positions, ahem David, you should reach out rather than criticize and marginalize. This is the beauty of the democratic process. People have sacrificed. We should all reach out to marginalized and not scapegoat them.

Robin Morgan- to create more economic diversity on Selectboard - could we ask if board could to look into this issue?

Motion to increase to $20k/$25k.

Gartenstein - don't want to speak to substance of motion. I've served on many boards and have never encountered a troublemaker or person making a foolish statement. We welcome all comments and all involvement from any who want to participate. No troublemakers or foolishness and I found that comment objectionable.

Carvill - I hope board looks at this, we hashed this out, I move the question.

Daims - he spoke on the issue...then called the question. Can't do that.

Crispe - he didn't give a speech. just asked for ceasing of debate.

Debate ceases. 104-12

Motion to amend motion to raise Selectboard salary to $20/25k fails. Everyone but Daims votes no. He jokes that he wants a roll call.

Salaries set as stated.

...

Article 16 is to assess and collect $75,000 in the Downtown Improvement District, to be used by the designated downtown organization.

Dick DeGray - you'll notice the sum has dropped to $75k from $78k. There was a large surplus. I joined the Downtown Organization - I've been a critic of what it hasn't done. Disappointed there is no workplace in your packet for your to review. Significant change in downtown organization coordination - will include outside revenue being included. We did;t get any of that info. No handouts for us. Very disappointing to me, and I help with beautification downtown. Thank you. Not sure how long I'll be around, but it has made a significant difference. Town contributes in-kind services, but funding for flowers and light are part of this budget. Organization must do better job giving reports for you to vote on. I'll support this but firing a warning shot to be more cognizant of what this meeting is about.

Alex Beck - info in town report is not enough. We gave full budget to march 16 meeting. New revenue contract isn't signed, so we don't include that yet. The DBA board will have a separate bank account to keep town and private funds separate. It will be tracked separately. No co-mingling. The only change this year is $3,000 we gave back, and additional surplus that we returned to committees.

Jon Megas-Russell - how does it break down per downtown property and how is amount determined.

Alex - part of DID charter and I don't have it with me.

Gartenstein - properties are assessed and taxed at a certain rate... we can get that for you after the meeting - at lunch break.

DeGray - there is a boundary, and 88 buildings assessed. It has its own grand list and each assessed by what the budget is. The more value the building, the more the assessment.

Gartenstein - 13 cents on hundred is the rate.

Michael Bosworth - Government building in district don't pay?

DeGray - they don't pay.

Peter Ewell - same tax rules apply. Municipal buildings not taxed.

Kathryn Turnas - invested in local radio ads... I"m on WVEW that survives on underwriters and have yet to see anything come to us. We're not commercial and don't have ads. What kind of dollars are given to local radio?

Alex Beck - don't have that number. I do know much of this work is new to us. Board members work in this industry and their suggestions helped place them. I appreciate the feedback. Reach out to us. We'll work with anyone to spread our message. Part of our goal is to attract people from out of town. Many events are advertised to try-state area, but it should be both and we'll do it next year.

Article 16 passes!

Now it is a one hour lunch recess.

Chapman - we've had a debate about style. Speaking in anger is different than indignant. The Chair has in the past characterized an opinion of mine as obscene, so there is an issue of consistency.

 
 #

Thanks Chris!

This is now a tradition. A pot of coffee, iBratt coverage and BCTV on Youtube. And as an aside, it's snowing/sleeting. Big soggy flakes.

 
 #

Good day for a meeting

I'm kind of glad it is snowing. Some years it is extremely nice out and sitting inside seems like punishment. Not so this year! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.... (but not enough to have to shovel)

 
 #

Afterthought

It appears the Finance Committee asked all the wrong people about compensation. Instead of asking members of RTM and successfully-elected board members for opinions, they should have asked people who aren't RTM reps and haven't been elected. They got it backward, in my view.

Asking the "insiders" at the country club if the drink prices at the bar are too expensive at $10 a martini doesn't get the same results as asking the general public.

It's a bit insulting to tell those less well off that its all about honor and service to the community. There are stipends being given, and they are too low for people less well off. Most select boards here have been dominated by older, white, male homeowners. That's what this system gets us, for whatever reason. I'm guessing compensation IS part of the decision-making for those struggling to make ends meet.

$20k might be extreme, and its good that all this discussion led to talk of elder and child care (not an issue for me right now), but more effort should be done to look at compensation - and the idea of a sliding scale seemed like a good place to start. Get it around $10k and it looks like a better thing for this poor guy to consider someday.

 
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Break ending

Reps slowly returning to their seats.

 
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Article 17, 18

Article 17 is to assess and collect $223,276.47 through special property assessments as per an agreement with Mountain Home Park. This pays off debt on improvements to water and sewer lines serving Mountain Home and Deepwood mobile home parks.

It is adopted!

....

Article 18 is about spending $120,00 for human service programs.

John Allen reads the motion. "You can see who drew the short straw on this one..."

Aids Project of Southern Vermont - $2,000; American Red Cross – NH and VT Region - $5,000; Brattleboro Area Adult Day (Gathering Place) - $4,000; Brattleboro Area Hospice - $1,200; Brattleboro Senior Meals - $7,000; Family Garden - $2,500; Green Mountain Crossroads - $5,000; Groundworks Collaborative - $20,000; Health Care & Rehabilitation Services - $3,500; KidsPLAYce - $4,000; Meeting Waters-YMCA - $5,000; Senior Solutions - $3,000; Southeastern Vermont Community Action, Inc. (SEVCA) - $12,000; Turning Point - $8,500; Vermont Adult Learning $3,000; Vermont Center for Independent Living - $1,600; Visiting Nurse & Hospice of VT & NH - $12,200; Windham Child Care Association - $5,500; Windham County Safe Place Child Advocacy Center and Southeastern Unit for Special Investigations - $1,500; Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Summer Food Program - $6,000; Youth Services-Big Brothers/Big Sisters - $7,500.

Chief Emery - Hospice, and Visiting Nurse & Hospice... same thing?

Emily Kornheiser - Visiting Nurse is a 2 state service organization for parents and elders. Brattleboro Area Hospice is just end of life non-profit.

Maya Hasegawa - why not fund Boys and Girls Club this year?

Kornheiser - they didn't apply this year.

It is adopted!

 
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Wow!

Go Spoon for speaking up for renters!

 
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Kudos

That is a rare occurrence in this town - especially in town government.

 
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Article 19

Article 19 is asking if we should dip into the Unassigned Fund Balance (the rainy day reserve) for $1,099,975 to help offset taxes by paying for some operating and capital expenses.

David Gartenstein - as of June 30, 2016, we have $2 .7 million in unassigned fund balance... that rainy day fund, now approaching $3 million, accumulated due to a series of events. We've looked for savings on municipal expenses - transition to every other week trash pickup, self employing health risk, energy efficiency, lower fuel costs, lower retirement costs, lower staff than expected... so the fund balance has accumulated. At $2.7m is an increased of $650k over last year. Probably 4-5 years ago we adopted a policy to try to maintain 10% of town's operating budget in a savings account. Goal is to have $1.7 in annual savings account. In event of emergency, we can draw on it (like Irene). We can act quickly without borrowing - saves time in emergency. When Town Manager prepared budget, original proposal was to spend less, but things changed. The pumper truck, a necessary fire dept fleet item, failed inspection. 1998 truck wasn't industrial strength. So, administration looked for alternatives, and asked to spend 550k for combined pumper rescue truck. Changing needs during budget work and planning. Looked at dozens of policy decisions and how to pay for those. We concluded that a total payment of about $1m from fund balance would be prudent expenditure in order to help defray expenses during FY18. We'll have capital projects, and our budget process has been working to integrate investments in capital going forward so we can maintain the infrastructure to provide services. Selectboard communicated priorities about reasonable tax increase given all we need to do. Town Manager recommended to us 3.5 cent increase, which is equal to payments on police-fire bond. To achieve that tax rate, the fund balance withdrawal allows us to keep 10% in reserve, and pay for needs in high tax year. This works with long term planning issues.

Peter Elwell - One thing to add. Important reassurance to everyone. It is an awful lot of fund balance... but we can do it because we had a larger than normal fund balance last year. We can commit to more capital and commitment to replacement, plus sustaining that. The reassurance is that even though we use this large amount this year, we are also increase real-time revenue, so we're positioning ourselves to sustain higher capital needs when we can't take this much from the fund balance. Recurring revenues from $260k a couple years ago to 745k now. This wouldn't be responsible to do with recurring costs. We should not borrow for short term normal operations. To accomplish larger than normal amount of capital investment is wise and necessary.

Spoon Agave - Respond to the 5 questions I asked on wisdom of using surplus funds?

Elwell - I'll give my answers. You posed questions that go to heart of policy making of select board. I'll tell you what I saw.

1. "What happened in last 18 months to cause decline in ability to pay... " My answer is nothing happened, but if we were proposing this to fund daily operations. We have the ability to pay for daily operations.

2. "Sound responsibility to use reserves to pay down now when we'll have to borrow in the future?" I'm unsure of your calculation, but we're not proposing commitments that require additional borrowing. Additional funds being available allows us to address deferred needs. A portion of this could be characterized as property tax relief, but that's less than $150k of this. The capital is driving this, and it isn't overcommitting to future borrowing.

3. "Significantly different tax rates in dif years?" The board made this more stable than what I initially recommended. RTM approved police fire, then approved budget to fund debt service. The additional eat service in this budget, then it will decline for 19 years. The estimate showed 6.8 cents would be the tax rate increase. We got that down to 5.5 cents, then to 4.8 cents. It could have been at 4.8 cents, then next year would forecast a 2 cent. By going to 3.5 cents bumps next year estimate up to 4 cents tax increase. So, artificially lower tax rates for convenience causing spikes would not be appropriate, but that's not happening here.

4. "Given effect of loss of federal funds - voluntarily deplete reserves wise?" Federal budget has come about since the budget was devised. Not good enough reason to not modify, if necessary. There will be impacts that we'll deal with, but can't know them right now. If we overly depended on grants for budget we'd be at greater risk. Some grants supplement operations, but most are for capital projects. Block grants - we're just the fiscal agent. We administer funds. Others spend them. Great reason to pay close attention, but nothing known so much that we should change this year's budget.

5. "Make sense to leave it so surplus will be maintained to help balance school...?" That's our policy about how comfortable this body is with recommendations.

Daryl Mcelveen - Will funds be used for operation?

Gartenstein - the language is to use the money as partial funding for operating and capital expenses, so it is both. Mostly capital, but some operating expenses. Some is for tax relief to smooth rates.

Elwell - that's their decision making process. Mathematically it could all be applied to capital. The broader picture of the overall budget - this commitment is related to longer term financial planning to get to a sustainable level. The prior year commitment to smoothing the police fire project expenses. The wording is because this is one source of revenue, used for both.

Mollie Burke - on federal funds - the legislature may have a special session when federal budget comes through. Then the town will know more.

Franz Reichsman - I responded to the questions via email to Agave. Ewell's remarks are pretty much what we felt. There was some diversity of opinion as to how much should be used, and less could be sued, but higher tax rate this year. We could set aside more for next year by doing less this year. Do need to think of what happens in DC.

Kurt Daims - our Chair was correct to point out fund balance was very important to defray emergency expenses by Irene, It could happen again. Two storms waiting over us now - one in DC and one in Europe - it could be bigger than the last time. Keeping 10% balance unhand could be outdated. Maybe we should keep more on hand for next time. You have a motion from Mr. Harvey on climate change... we should consider that here, too.

Spoon Agave - didn't hear an answer why it isn't prudent to save expect that it adds to this year's tax rate. We could save and use for cap expenses next year. On question 4 on what may be coming down the pike federally - a strategic plan was removed from a 10 year plan - we need to plan for future. My last point, most important, this money is tax money collected from everyone who pays taxes - property or through rent. Renters may be paying slightly more. We're all taxpayers. We have placed a huge emphasis on property. You couldn't even vote without property long ago. This tax money is going to be redistributed to just the property owners. Will rents come down? No. All the money of taxpayers goes back to homeowners. This body never considers it. We place emphasis on being legitimate by owning property. That comes through in who comes to participate. Maybe 80% of this body are homeowners. Every time we talk of taxes, people are thinking of their own pockets and not the other half. This surplus would be more equitably returned if it were saved now for projects we all benefit from and use.

Tom Franks - I'm confused. We have $3.3 m in cap budget, so a lot of money will be spent on capital projects. It benefits us all. Some assumption I struggle with - if we spend it now we will borrow it and pay more... I don't know how to prove that with any confidence. We have a long term capital plan. A tremendous job of figuring that out. Why would we think we're going to borrow next year? Final point - I'm a property owner, maybe as a renter if my taxes go down but taxes low means no increase next year. I'm speculating, like Agave. Can't assume things.

It passes!

 
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Article 20 - The Town Budget

Article 20 is the Town budget. Everyone ready to chip in and pay $17,271,841 for the coming year? (Some of the total is offset by the Unassigned Fund Balance transfer of the previous article. $14,267,946 will come from property taxes. The balance will come from all the other town revenue, such as grants.)

David Gartenstein - so this $17m budget is a total increase of 7.3% over last year but tax increase is 2.9% or 3.5 cents. It's about equal to funding for paying for police fire project debt. In essence we have categories of expenses. Lots spent on personnel and capital expenses. This is only party of the work does as a whole. In addition, there is a Utilities budget $5.5 m and Parking $700k. So total town operations are about $24m and 140 employees. Primary budget shifts this year have to do with increased investments in capital expenses, such as new pumper rescue for fire dept, municipal center improvements, Gibson Aiken improvements, paving and streets, street sweeper, new dump truck, body cameras, thermal imaging, sidewalks! More than $3.4m in capital expenses. Plus repayment of Police and Fire facilities. Goal is to make sure long term cap investment and operating expenses are appropriately calibrated to meet expectations. many years of cuts in services, and we've cut as much as we can, so it is time to make reinvestments and balancing investments in a sustainable way.

Michael Bosworth - move to amend to add $10k, offset by increase in property taxes, to fund work of successor to Brattleboro Climate Protection, dependent on Selectboard appointing someone, and entering into agreement with a non-profit.

I'm Chair of town energy committee - out of Selectboard were against bringing this into the budget but I thought it healthy to bring up here. We recommended SB consider hiring full-time energy coordinator as a town employee. If not, a part-time, and if not that a qualified volunteer. Previous work has saved town much money in energy costs, now and in future. All gathered much data, and we need to keep that going. We might put someone on staff. Hope that works out, but might not for a year or so.

DeGray - we're discussing the budget - you'd be amending the budget by $10k.

Gartenstein - the board spent time looking into energy efficiency investments this year. There are many commitments - police fire facilities designed with modern efficiency standards in mind, there are energy projects at municipal center and Gibson Aiken center, w're planning for engineering for upgrade at water treatment plant and they'll be energy efficient, and money in budget for upgrades at public works will deal with energy matters. Question whether 10k is sufficient to make a difference in doing this work, and I think the board felt 10k was not (without a plan) would make a difference. We asked Town Manager to take broad look at energy efficient savings being integrated into town activities as a whole. Might hire someone. There is no clear plan in immediate future, and $10k at it doesn't seem effective, so we didn't include it.

Abigail Mnookin - climate change at the top of my list. Current select board ignored so many of the energy committee's recommendations, like wood heat at two facilities. Climate change is here and happening now. Throwing zero is also not the answer. $10k is the least we can do. Waiting until we're ready to fund isn't smart. Let's keep the 10k in that we spent on Paul.

Elwin Hamilton - I didn't hear a second to the motion...

(He then got many...)

Emily Kornheiser - in past year the $10k used to "pay for itself" with grants. Is that true?

Peter Elwell - a general consensus that he created value for the town.

Elizabeth McLoughlin - Brattleboro was fortunate to have Paul Cameron work/donate his services. It's unrealistic to think we can continue on that basis. Prudent for town to support investigating full-time job for someone to do that work.

George Harvey - I write on this and do energy work. It is not a good idea for select board to try to get an answer on what we should be doing unless a person is well-versed in energy issues. I interviewed an architect who said his building was heated by floor mats. Tight construction made it possible. If we have someone look at replacing Paul Cameron, so we should get experts doing that search.

Jessica Dolan - no shortage of people dedicated to energy and environment. It's underfunded. Everything depends on the environment. We need dedication to it. Energy efficiency doesn't address climate change. Need to see how we operate in the overall ecology.

Chris Chapman - I support this. Energy independence is the most strategic thing we can do now to spend less later. World of energy is changing. Davos economic forum says Saudi Arabia will invest in solar. Energy prices are so volatile they can gum up our budgets. A consistent presence is needed, similar to pace computer chips are changing, we owe it to ourselves to stay on top of this. $10k is hard, but the wise thing to do, in our own interest. It's a matter of national security importance for the nation.

Peter Falion - I support keeping energy as a central focus in government. Energy is different from other committees. It is central to everything we do. It impacts budget all over the place. We have huge emissions problems. Cameron worked on a commuter plan for carpooling, too. Someone thinking about energy every day means this town made progress. Always funded out of human services in the past. Let's commit to energy as a central focus.

Bob Oeser - we could talk about this for a long time. Can we get lucky to get someone like Paul? The $10k is a bookmark, saying energy is important. Maybe we can get a plan out of that. We need someone with their eye on energy all the time.

Mollie Burke - I support this motion. At first it was $2k then it went to $5k, but not through human services. Then $10k, always agreed to easily. This is a bookmark. We need a full-time energy coordinator. But until then it send s a message and someone could step up to keep work going. I thank Paul Cameron for his work and dedication tot he town.

Schoales - Energy Committee are real experts. Great data provided. Coordinator coordinates and organizes that work. To guide the efforts of the town. No applicants for volunteer position so far. $10k could help.

Kathryn Turnas - alternative reality - Paul got us grants. Given political climate right now, we'll need someone who can look for more grants that are hard to find. Need someone dedicated like Paul, to help us find money to help with savings.

Valerie Stuart -I respect work of Town, but global climate change is the issue of our time. It is global security concern. I have a daughter in the military and this is a problem we need to solve. We need to solve this. I respect everyone working on this. Climate caucus is growing in popularity and I go to a conference on global climate change. Do a national conference in renewable energy jobs. We could take some credit. I'd put down $100 for mother Earth. Not trying to interfere with process. We could explore fundraising for the money.

Deb Zak - I admire Paul Cameron and his work. Energy savings and climate protection are two things. We need to take time to figure out what the town actually needs... energy savings and costs, or the broader resiliency and emergency planning. Food for thought.

Hyam Siegel - This is a no-branier. Every year we give kudos to Cameron. This is small amount of money. Question - the conditions in the motion, are they meltable? Can we get someone by July 1, etc.?

Peter Elwell - it's a reasonable concern the July 1 is possible, and the affiliation... is there a purpose to it, but if it isn;t important we could drop the deadline.

Bosworth - without a deadline, it's less specific. We could take it out. There are two non-profits thinking about it already.

(The July 1 date is removed from motion.)

Dennis Newman - too little focus to this - throwing money at it, and not respecting Serlectboard decision. I'm against it.

Kathleen White - I'm on energy committee - I support it, but wonder about making it contingent on a 501c3.

Bosworth - same as previous arrangement, shouldn't be too difficult. Will help with grants.

Mary Casey - any limit to "successor organization" wording?

Bob Fisher - it was in his motion. The Town can work with that.

Bosworth - Paul closed down Brattleboro Climate Protection when he left, so we'd need a new one.

Steve Philips - just voting on $10k, and not voting on conditions? It's all advisory, right?

Elwell - yes. given extent of discussion and clarity of body to have this happen gives clear alive to select board, but under law, you are adding $10k to budget and advising Selectboard to use for this purpose, but they can't be bound to it.

Philips - It could work out, or at worse we have more in unassigned fund balance at end of year, so I support it.

Jill Stahl-Tyler - so we'll vote but it doesn't make any difference cause it is advisory? Ok.

Motion to add $10k to budget... passes. The memory of Paul Cameron lives on for another year!

* Budget to be voted on is now $17,281,841, and $14,277,946 will come from property taxes. *

Leo Schiff - I'm appreciative of this budget. I like body cameras for police department and hope it increases trust. Gov't should be a model employer. Of the 140 positions for permanent town employees, how many have starting pay below $15 hr and where are they concentrated.

Elwell - starting pay is below $15 in some cases. In every case, it is part of union contracts, set by collective bargaining. I can provide more detail later. It exists to a limited extent in our staff.

Budget Article 20 passes!

and a 15 minute recess...

 
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Article 21

BTW, support for this coverage is proudly paid for by no one.

...

Article 21 is a request from Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies for a $24,000 contribution from the Town’s program income fund (revolving loan fund for grant and loans).

DeGray - my fashion consultant said my shirt looked white on TV, and we can't wear white before Memorial Day, so I changed my shirt. (Reads motion)

Adam Grinold of SeVEDS - thanks! We have no employees and contracts with BDCC to serve mission, and drive economy. We look at regional assets, build economy. Try to keep business here. Hard to get new ones to move here. CEDS process identifies needs/goals/stratgey. We've brought in $15m in investment in Windham Co, and 700 jobs. Are we better off? GDP of Windham Co grew in previous years, more than our neighbors. Our exports outpaced neighbors. Rise in median wages growing 12% in last few years. CEDS is helping economy grow. We got international economic attention for our work in 2016. Happy to answer questions.

Spoon Agave - I assume those things are all true. It shows we can afford a tax rate increase. Those are good percentages. We're doing quite well. I feel though, that SeVEDS is part of BDCC - they own $9 m in property. No reason they can't fund this to whatever degree they need this. Why us? Everyone wants more money. But BDCC might be able to cover this. Our services looks at financial statement s to see who needs money. Does the town look at what BDCC needs. That aside, this info is important even if it enables us to question our assumptions. We make lots of assumptions, and information is vital. In the future, when they come for money, they should come with complete economic report to print in the town report, to begin to have the information we need to make decisions we need.

George Carvill - this is a request from revolving loan fund, not tax money, right? (yes)

Bob Oeser - program income fund is repaid to town from CDBG paybacks. This is targeted in federal budget to be severely reduced. We may want a reserve fund. This article asks for a "contribution" to the program... what's the impact of our contribution, vs. keeping it within the town and target initiatives within the town.

Peter Elwell - we have about $400k or so in the fund and not allocated to any projects. Similar to earlier comments, this decision was made prior to federal budget news, so you can weigh priorities...

Valerie Stuart - at state level Commerce Committee. I support increase for Seveds - they are a poster child for state of Vermont. Winning national prizes! We have older residents and low income, and are having trouble finding jobs. SeVEDS doing a great job. We have to scratch the dirt at the state level to put some money together to keep young people here. Without SeVEDS we would have lost jobs. Dollars are short, time is short, but people who work hard with community spirit are not.

Dick DeGray - would the Town do better using money to spend directly? We already do. We give money directly to Brooks House, Commonwealth Yogurt, GS Precision... I wonder how has this gone over in other towns?

Grinold - a regional approach in Windham County. Brattleboro was initial sponsor and told us to get matching dollars. It forced us out to talk to communities. Thankful for that. We petition them in a limited way, and try to add new communities each year. 3 turn downs over the years, otherwise we get funded.

Seeds funding approved!

 
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Article 22 - Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Article 22 is whether we should advise the Selectboard to proclaim the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in place of Columbus Day.

Jessica Dolan - I strongly support this. Have worked with Native populations. Columbus was sent to look for gold, committed atrocities, and APA says mascots are damaging to Indigenous neighbors. On plus side, we have opportunity to respect Abenaki and others, and to talk about contemporary native issues. Many have already changed their days, and Canada made Aboriginal Peoples day a national Holiday. We can do educational events. Brattleboro taking a leadership role is a move toward justice and our true collective histories in North America.

Dennis Newman - Columbus Day is my least favorite holiday. I'd prefer Native American Day. Indigenous People sounds too vague and intellectual. I offer a friendly amendment.

Peter Falion - doesn't Schoales have to agree to a friendly amendment. It still is amendable even if put on agenda by petition.

Dolan - credit Rich Holshuh for collecting signatures. Native American people prefer Indigenous Peoples' Day. That's the preference.

Newman motion gets no second.

Orion Barber - I'm in favor as originally presented. Back when I was an elementary school student in Bennington, and I recall we were taught one reason America is called America because a mapmaker from Italy - Amerigo Vespucci, a European. Europeans came and took over. I can understand why they may not like the word America in there.

Elizabeth McCloughlin. - wasn't it founded as an Italian American holiday?, and as an Italian American, I support the name change.

Andy Davis - there is a song kids in Brattleboro know - "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but someone was already here." People study the Abenaki and their culture, and we have more to learn... this celebrates vermont's cultural history.

Margaret Atkinson - I support it but caution us as the whitest state, because we recognize things this way, issues aren't solved because of having "a day". Let's look for additional ways to do something.

The motion passes unanimously!

 
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I <3 Wantastegok (Brattleboro)

Thank you everyone (and Chris for your super coverage). Passed unanimously - in other words, by consensus, which is the best way to make decisions within one's community.

 
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Article 23 - Any Other Business

Article 23 is “any other business” to come before the meeting.

Crispe remind reps that this portion is non-binding, but is source for comments and suggestions.

David Gartenstein - two resolutions:

1. Whereas Dick DeGray has served for 8 years, and as Chair, and as BUHS board, and on other committees, and committed himself tirelessly to Brattleboro - Thanks to him for his service to the town. (Applause)

2. Whereas Annette Cappy has served since 1989 as Town Clerk - elections, town meetings, and recognized for it all... thanks for Annette Cappy! (applause, and whistles!)

Kate O'Connor - today is Gartenstein's last meeting

Allen - ever...

O'Connor - as Chair as the board. Anyone who watches sees that meetings run smoothly, largely due to the work he does behind the scenes. Much went smoothly today because of him. So, a resolution. Whereas DG has served on board, and has Chair, leading town through times of challenges and opportunities such as Town manager, siting skatepark, and police-fire, and served as TM rep, on various boards and committees, and school boards, and served with professionalism and best interests of town at heart, thanks you for his service. (Applause)

Elizabeth Mccloughlin - member of BASIC skatepark... an update. Thanks for contribution of $20k in 2015. Since last year, we have permits to build skatepark at Living memorial Park, including modification of Act 250 and stormwater approval. Now we are ready to build. Could take a matter of months. We've raid $100k, we need another $130k. Once raised, construction could begin. I ask everyone to donate. A new fundraising plan. See our website. Grateful for all support and excited that final phase has begun. Mail $ to Rec Dept. Tell friends, neighbors, etc. (applause)

Hyam Siegel - Don Webster has been a longtime member, not here today because of illness. I look forward to his thoughtful comments. Just wanted to say something in his honor. (Applause)

Kurt Daims - my motion - the Selectboard is overworked, so much so that errors were made. A terrible mistake. But evidence that there is too much work. I can't get you more money, so I propose, since we now have RTM and a moderator, but Selectboard sit at front of the meetings. Their proper charge is to do general affairs and property of town except when it is given to another office. No need to supervise this meeting, or provide guidance or proposals (reads from Charter). Guidance , ideas, and proposals - this body is entrusted with those things. Reps are the guiding body for the Town. New members listen! By habit the Selectboard is closer to the moderator, their comments are quickly recognized, they have their own pics, they don't have to stand or walk to speak, but we have those restrictions. We're second class representatives, but Charter doesn't support it. Older members are used to it. We should do more. We should provide proposals and guidance to the town. I hope we can take up that responsibility. It's the right thing to do.

(Representatives are leaving)

George Harvey - a motion - Brattleboro RTM express concern that federal gov't is disregarding welfare of citizens and life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness in Constitution ... could be collusion with foreign hostile power. It should be investigated, and if true, action taken.

- According to world health org people die due to air pollution, due to fossil fuels. Health in Vermont at risk. Taxes and insurance impacted. Vermont is warmer, with more deer ticks, and Lyme disease. Climate change is due to fossil fuels. We've lost 70% of sea birds in last 60 years, and losing wildlife. Extinctions every 10 minutes. Moose have no instinct to groom for ticks, and are dying from winter ticks. One of many climate change problems. Flood insurance claims increase. Govt is in bed with big business and fossil fuel industries. Supported covertly by Russia. Potentially treasonous.

Phelon Muller - Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are in Declaration, not Constitution.

They voted on this one and adopt it.

Richard Evers - moved by Bosworth's account of Paul Cameron's work, and want to officially thank him for his work. He's looking for work down in the Carolinas. He walked the walk, and his town contribution will be remembered for years to come. Maybe we should do a whereas type document for Paul, to help him get a job, if Town went a bit further and did a resolution that was really impressive. Much applause.

Crispe - Selectboard can do that and adopt at a meeting.

Allen - maybe Energy Committee could do it.

Evers - I move we publicly thank him with a resolution citing his achievements.

They vote on this one and it passes. Unanimous!

Tim Maciel - in reference Daims remarks - he reminds us this is a representative town meeting. For last nine hours I've looked at Selectboard members, but mainly looking at backs of heads of fellow members. Seating conmfiguation has profound impact on participation, so I suggest next time we have concentric circles, like at national town meeting debates. Seeing faces and reactions on issues would be profoundly important, and would put discussion back to town representatives. It reflects a lot and impacts democratic processes. (Applause)

Daryl Mcelveen - I'd like to make a Whereas motion - that we decide and put aside $5200 a year to cultivate and or support businesses helping artists and after school programs for arts. I wasn't born here, but came here through the arts. I started Battle of the Bands. $100 per week for after school art lessons or art business. We're all impacted by arts. It's not in the budget at all. Whereas we're progressive and support art energy, we put $5200 to cultivate and seek out arts business and entities to help kids. Or any amount. (Applause)

Crispe - that is great, but not binding. We can advise the boards and give them direction. Can;'t make a specific appropriation. So, maybe this be a suggestion to board for this or next year consideration?

Schoales - work with arts committee to bring that proposal.

Mollie Burke - heard inspiration invocation by Wheelock, and I'd like to see that in print and would like to read those words again. Also, there was a state resolution for Annette Cappy a month or so ago.

Adjourned! at 4:58 pm.

Tad Montgomery - if we are to vote on this, I'd like the correction to be made...in case people hear of this.

 
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BTW

Thanks, Chris, for following and recording Brattleboro's 2016 RTM on iBratt.

As a member it's great to be able to page through quickly and find things that I didn't quite understand completely during the day, but didn't want to stop the proceedings to inquire about.

Next year I intend to run you as a write-in candidate, and will not accept the lame Pat Paulson excuse of not running if nominated, and not serving if elected.

 
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Chris Grotke Draft

...for Town Manager.

 
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Thanks, and too bad...

Brattleboro doesn't allow write-in candidates anymore, in that way. You can only vote for people who register to be write-in candidates, which, to me, is being a real candidate (minus the petition) and not a write-in.

Prior to the very recent change, you could write anyone in. Now those votes aren't even counted. You can only write-in officially-registered candidates for write-in positions. It's absurd. I feel like we should be able to vote for anyone we want. If that person is elected and doesn't want the job, they can decline it. It's not up to the Town to pre-decline for candidates, in my view.

RTM reps would have to make the change. They changed the Charter re: write-ins, at the Town Clerk's request.

 
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"It's not up to the Town to pre-decline for candidates"

I was not aware of this.

RTM's made the change in the Charter at the Town Clerk's request??

When was that done? Are you referring to Annette or Hilary?
Was any rationale offered as to why they prohibit write-ns

Effectively, as you point out, we no longer have write-ins on the ballot.

It was that simple to change the Charter???

Well, the horse ran out of barn. Goddamn it.

 
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Administrative request

RTM passed it in, hmmm... 2011 or 2012 (?)

"If a Brattleboro citizen wishes to be considered a write-in candidate for any town office (including town meeting member) that candidate must now declare his/her candidacy to the town clerk no later than 7:00 PM on election day.

Only write-in votes for declared candidates will be counted after the polls close. "

It was by request of Cappy. Main reasons, as I recall, were that counting the write-ins took time, and a sub-issue was about only voting for people who want to be voted for. Minor concern about eliminating frivolous "Mickey Mouse" type votes.

 
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Not Dissuaded

I will forge your signature if necessary, and wear a silly hat to hide my true identity.

 

Contact the Brattleboro Selectboard

iBrattleboro Poll

If a big wildfire was coming toward Brattleboro, I would most likely

Choices