Brattleboro’s EMS decision was shortsighted, horrendously wrong bureaucratic expansion

BRATTLEBORO — I have been silent on the Selectboard's termination of the Rescue Inc. contract in favor of the town taking over EMS, but it is now time for me to speak on the issue.

This was a shortsighted and horrendously wrong decision, because the numbers just do not make sense.

The town was paying Rescue $280,000 annually for the EMS Services.

Per a recent article in the Reformer, here are the costs to switch over:

• Start up costs $1,000,000 from Stimulus money

• Operational costs per year: $950,000

• Added staff: $717,000

• Other costs: $236,000

• Total cost: $2,903,000

• Costs after year 1: $1,903,000

• Projected revenue: $837,000

• Annual loss after year 1: $1,066,000

The result of this decision would be annual losses of around $1 million plus the irresponsible use of the $1 million in stimulus money, which could be used for far better purposes.

Adding six or seven new staff members means increased salaries, benefits, and retirement obligations for the town down the road. VtDigger reported recently that our town has had 16 firefighters leave their employment in the past year and we are having difficulty in filling new positions and are currently understaffed and staffed with many inexperienced officers.

Town property taxes just went up 2.74% for commercial properties and 5.46% for homes. Home values and rental costs have skyrocketed.

Where will all this end? Brattleboro already has some of the highest taxes in the state and is well on its way to becoming completely unaffordable, if it is't already.

I do not know where we go from here, but where we are now is unacceptable.

The Selectboard needs to take a thorough look at this regretful decision and see that it is really a large bureaucratic expanse of town government with short- and long-term increased costs to the municipality.

It is time for the people of Brattleboro to speak up, and I urge all interested residents to get educated and do just that at the public hearing in September.

This Voices Letters from readers was submitted to The Commons.

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