Take a closer look at the economics
Editor of the Reformer:
It is mind blowing to read (front page article, Sept.7-8) of the wringing of hands on the part of the Selectboard over the coming year’s budget. Where oh where was this concern when town meeting reps were asked to vote on the fire/police station bond? This project has seemed to be a sacred cow. But it is we tax-payers have been milked dry -- barely getting by and now are told we must somehow pay for this huge project solely with our property taxes, even though our tax rate is already among the highest in the state.
It seems to me it is not too late to say, "Wait a minute ... we need to find a way to fund these expansions without putting it all on the backs of property owners." It is not too late to put the project on hold until an additional funding source can be found.
At the Oct. 20 special Town Meeting there were two votes pertinent to the bond. Some representatives proposed that the vote on the bond should be linked to the outcome of the vote to raise a 1 percent local option sales tax. However, they were not linked and since the votes were both by Australian ballot it was impossible to act, as Gartenstein had suggested, to vote for the project only if the local option tax was passed. So, the local option tax was voted down and at the same time the project was moved forward with a decisive "yes" vote.
Capital projects for next year totaling $2 million?! It is time that the town representatives take a good hard look at new projects. Just as in our personal lives, you sometimes (lately it seems lots of times!) have to back off the wish list. Watching the televised Selectboard meeting I was heartened to see a similar sentiment was expressed by the board.
There is a citizen’s committee formed to oversee the Police/Fire station project and one that will be appointed to participate in the search for a new town manager.
A citizen finance committee exists. I would like to suggest that either they come up with a few funding options, or that a separate committee be created whose charge will be to find a new revenue stream, a way to grow the grand list, or even better, both.
We’ve all noticed the proliferation of empty storefronts in town. Could it be that townspeople simply don’t have the disposable income to keep the businesses in town busy? To add significantly to homeowners’ tax burden is to risk the local economy’s implosion.
There should be as much energy going into finding an additional funding source for the police/fire project as into the mechanics of the project. If the finance committee isn’t willing to take that on, I suggest a new committee be formed with that as their mission.
Brattleboro, Sept. 17
Thought for food
Editor of the Reformer:
Looking through my calendar of national observances, it appears that October is turning into "food month," beginning with World Vegetarian Day and World Day for Farm Animals on Oct. 1 and 2, continuing with National School Lunch Week on Oct. 14 to 18 and World Food Day on Oct. 16, and culminating with Food Day on Oct. 24.
World Day for Farm Animals Day (www.WFAD.org), on Oct. 2, is perhaps the most dramatic of these. It celebrates the lives, exposes the abuses, and memorializes the slaughter of billions of sentient animals raised for food. Recent undercover investigations showed male baby chicks suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death, pigs clobbered with metal pipes, and cows skinned and dismembered while still conscious.
Moreover, a recent Harvard study of more than 120,000 people confirmed once again that meat consumption raises mortality from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Animal agriculture accounts for more water pollution than all other human activities. A 2011 United Nations report recommends eating less meat to reduce greenhouse gases.
The good news is that our meat consumption has been dropping by nearly 4 percent annually. Entering "live vegan" in a search engine brings lots of useful transition tips.
Brattleboro, Sept. 26