Brattleboro board shortchanges safety while making poor spending decisions

BRATTLEBORO — A recent Brattleboro Selectboard meeting was a safety-common-sense shocker.

Board members were discussing how to spend the taxpayers' money. It is imperative that the emergency vehicles be kept in good operational condition. The rotation of two vehicles keeps the mileage at a maximum of about 100,000 miles or five years old. This policy is appropriate for how often these vehicles are used.

As a citizen, I protested when board members went to cut money for such a safety issue.

At the same meeting, the Selectboard voted to accept $30,000 for windows at the Gibson-Aiken Center, which had only one appraisal and no research into solar options, which would have lowered the cost of heating the building. Installing windows at this point would not be an appropriate expenditure for such a large building.

This bothered me because $30,000 for six windows seems very high. Since, I too, have been a contractor, I am aware how important it is to get more than one estimate. I questioned this point, and a selectman, who said he was a contractor, gave a reason for the manner in which this was done. He didn't say as a contractor whether it was usual to get more than one estimate for work or materials.

It might have been advantageous to be conservative about putting in windows right now, and putting plastic coats over those windows, while researching to see about solar heating for the building, which may offer payback to the town from the grid. Research has shown that solar not only pays for itself but also that towns earn income from it.

Next, board members voted to put aside $50,000 for sidewalks in no particular area in town. People had complained about how bad our sidewalks are for wheelchairs; because of the unevenness of the walks, the wheelchairs had to be used on the road.

The Selectboard should have used this information to designate where in town this money would be used.

It is sometimes only a minute between life and death, especially with a break-in at someone's home. We as a town need to wake up to the fact that there are way too many people here who are drug addicts, and they will stop at nothing to get their drugs.

We need to make sure our fire department, police department, and all emergency agencies have good equipment, and our Selectboard put priorities in order.

The Selectboard members are human and make mistakes, as we all do. To make decisions that affect the entire town without much input from the people makes it more challenging.

I've been attending some of the safety meetings and have started attending Selectboard meetings. Two or three people from the public have been attending; at this last meeting, a handful more people came.

I hope more people attend these meetings before the budget goes to Annual Representative Town Meeting.

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