Main Street in Brattleboro seen from the top of the Brooks House building. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Main Street in Brattleboro seen from the top of the Brooks House building. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Friday April 12, 2013

The newly elected Brattleboro Selectboard began setting its goals for the coming year during a special meeting Thursday.

The board members agreed to put energy into some familiar issues such as economic development, revenue generation and department oversight. They also talked about addressing the drug issue in town, improving communication and finding ways to improve the hiring of under-represented populations.

In it's never ending challenge to keep taxes down, the board agreed to work toward finding ways to generate revenue and to strengthen the town's collection methods.

The board members also committed themselves to working with state government to find alternative funding sources and to review the town's payments in lieu of taxes policies.

Board Chairman David Gartenstein said he wanted the board to consider revenue generation in the broadest sense possible, saying that the board should not start and end a conversation on a single source, but rather, should investigate all possible ways to raise money.

Gartenstein also said he wanted to discuss revenue generation throughout the year, and with all town staff when discussing business.

Town Manager Barbara Sondag said the board should hold these talks with an eye toward the future, understanding that some of the changes might take time and require study and input from outside sources.

"We should establish guidelines toward setting up a longer term plan," Sondag said.

The board largely agreed on trying to attract more business to town, but Gartenstein said more studies had to be done to assess how that development would affect municipal services.

Gartenstein also said Brattleboro should work make sure all investments in economic development have a payoff. He said the entire region benefits from development and he said he hopes surrounding towns could work with Brattleboro while investing in economic development.

And the board vowed to work closer with Building a Better Brattleboro throughout the year, and not only when the organization is presenting its budget at the end of the fiscal year.

Gartenstein said he wasn't sure what the board could do to address the drug problem, but John Allen said that while he didn't have the answers, it was appropriate for the board to work on the issue.

"I think we do have a problem, and we're just burying our heads in the sand," John Allen said.

In the coming year the board members said they wanted to continue working closely on the police-fire renovations, and make decision about the Archery Building near Union Station.

And the board said they hoped to work throughout the year with the Town Plan as a guiding document.

At the end of Thursday's meeting the board directed Sondag to bring the goals back to a future meeting for formal adoption

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.