BRATTLEBORO -- The Agricultural Advisory Committee is going to ask Town Meeting Representatives not to approve an article that would divert about $94,000 in the town's Agricultural Land Protection Fund toward taxes and a new Energy Efficiency Fund.
Committee members met Thursday night to talk about their strategy for this Saturday's Representative Town Meeting.
The town started the Agricultural Land Protection Fund in 1985 to offer farmers a way to finance land purchases. The fund has only been used twice in 30 years.
The Selectboard wants to use $50,000 in the Agricultural Land Protection Fund to start an Energy Efficiency Fund, and the additional interest, of about $43,000, to defray taxes this year.
Town Meeting Representatives will vote on that proposal Saturday.
Members of the Agricultural Advisory Committee will attend Town Meeting to talk about the committee's vote to recommend that the money in Agricultural Land Protection Fund not be used.
At the committee's last meeting on Feb. 19, the committee voted 5-0 to ask Town Meeting Reps to keep all of the money in the fund and not to use it for the purposes recommended by the Selectboard.
If Town Meeting Representatives want to use some of the money, the Agricultural Advisory Committee is recommending that the interest be used for the Energy Efficiency Fund, but that the $50,000 be retained for agricultural use.
At the Feb. 19 meeting committee member Dean Hamilton said it would be a shame to raid the fund at the expense of funding a $50,000 Energy Efficiency Fund, which has a relatively small tax impact.
Committee member Caitlin Burlett also spoke out against the Town Meeting article at the Feb. 19 meeting, saying that the Agricultural Land Protection Fund was a significant and long-term commitment by the town to protecting open land.
The Brattleboro Conservation Commission also voted 6-0 to keep the money in the agricultural fund for its intended use.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or email@example.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.