Brandon’s special town meeting next Monday and election next Tuesday, June 30, offer voters an opportunity to build success upon success. As a town, Brandon has made visible progress over the last several months. We now have decisions to make together on a small number of important questions. It is our hope that you will support these measures with your vote.
1. The paving projects that voters previously approved have been so skillfully managed by our new public works director, Daryl Burlett, that we now have a surplus. The money he saved the town on the Union Street, Champlain Street, and Marble Street projects is now available for other purposes. The voters must approve any spending of this money since these were stand-alone appropriations rather than part of the general operating budget. The town has many other public works projects in need of urgent attention, including appropriating our 5 percent match for the FEMA-funded projects from Tropical Storm Irene. These projects, including Kennedy Park and Green Park, are in progress right now. We are asking the voters to authorize the select board to use the unspent funds for other public works projects.
2. As part of the special town meeting, we will hold a second hearing on the proposed governance charter for the town. This charter has only one purpose, which is to allow Brandon voters to choose to impose a 1 percent tax on sales, meals, rooms, and alcohol. The revenue can only be spent on capital projects, not salaries or operating expenses. Analysis of the past five years of state tax receipts indicates that the town may realize something in the range of $125,000 per year if the charter and the 1 percent tax (separate ballot questions) are approved by the voters and by the Legislature. Some of this tax will be paid by visitors to our town, whether residents of neighboring towns or tourists who shop, dine, or stay in Brandon. The proposed one-page charter is available for your review at www.townofbrandon.com under “Notices.” The select board unanimously approved the proposed charter and the investment in infrastructure it will allow the town to make without putting further pressure on the property tax.
3. The town has the option to purchase the lot behind the Mobil station which has long been used for municipal parking through the courtesy of the station owners. Changes in their business plan make continued unpaid use by the town unworkable. Buying this parking lot will allow for safe off-street parking for customers of in-town merchants, for patrons of events at the Brandon Town Hall, and for employees and visitors to the town office once it is re-opened at 49 Center Street. During the construction of Route 7 (segment 6), bridge 114, and the proposed overflow culvert, this parking area has been identified as an ideal staging area for construction equipment and materials rather than tear up Green Park again for that purpose.
We appreciate the support that has been expressed to the members of the select board for the direction of the town. If you have questions or concerns you would like addressed before the town meeting, please speak with any member of the select board or the town manager, David Atherton. We hope you will join us in building a better Brandon.
Doug Bailey and Seth Hopkins, Brandon
Doug Bailey and Seth Hopkins are chair and vice-chair of the Brandon Select Board. This letter was submitted to and also printed in The Reporter, a sister paper to The Mountain Times.