Wednesday September 19, 2012

BRATTLEBORO - The town is finally going to vote on financing for renovations to the police and fire stations.

The Selectboard, at its Tuesday night meeting, scheduled a special representative town meeting for Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8:30 a.m. at Academy School to ask town meeting representatives to vote on a $14.1-million bond for proposed upgrades to the town's three emergency response facilities.

Town meeting representatives will also vote on a proposed 1-percent local option tax, which the board says will help offset payments on the fire-police stations bond.

The local option tax decision will be from the floor by a voice vote, while town meeting representatives will vote on the bond by casting ballots.

Polls will open at 10 a.m. and will close 30 minutes after the meeting adjourns.

At the last meeting, some board members seemed reluctant to include the 1-percent tax for fear that it might endanger the total project. But at the same time some board members said they could not support the proposal without at least attempting to take some of the burden off of the taxpayers.

Taxes are projected to go up by about 10.5 cents without the tax. Proceeds from the local option tax could bring that down by a few pennies.

On the town meeting warning, town meeting representatives will be able to vote on the tax independently, and the police-fire proposal could still be approved even if the local option tax is rejected.


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The board on Tuesday also scheduled information sessions for Oct. 3 and 17, though the locations are still being firmed up.

Town meeting representatives will have access to all financial information on the bond and on the tax, as well as the most recent architectural designs.

The board has been working on the most recent plan since June when engineers from Black River Design proposed the three projects for the police station in the Brattleboro Municipal Building and for the town's two fire stations on Elliot Street and in West Brattleboro.

The board tried to whittle the original proposal down as much as it could.

With all costs included the original proposal was almost $16 million.

The proposal town meeting reps will consider on Oct. 20 includes almost $5.6 million for the police station, about $6.9 million for the Elliot Street Station and approximately $1.5 million for the West Brattleboro fire station.

Some of the changes which helped bring the cost down include moving the emergency operations center to central station from West Brattleboro, substituting a lift for an elevator at the police station, and removing some of the parking at West Brattleboro.

The town has been trying to address issues in its police and fire faculties for about 30 years, and the considerations have included finding a new site for the police and fire stations and building new facilities.

That plan was scrapped about a year ago when town officials committed themselves to renovating the existing stations.

Now it will be up to town meeting representatives to decide if the time is right for Brattleboro to move ahead on the most recent proposal.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.