BY NEIL P. ALLEN
BRANDON — Three municipal employees will be forming a committee to explore the topics of equity and inclusion for the town. The committee will consist of Town Manager David Atherton, Recreation Director Bill Moore and Town Clerk Sue Gage.
The idea to explore equity and inclusion was brought to the selectboard on Monday by Selectboard member Tim Guiles. “I attended a training this summer … that was powerful and important,” he said. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to move forward.”
Guiles said he had talked to Ted Brady at the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) about this, then brought forth a plan to create a small working group “to make Brandon as inclusive as possible.”
Atherton said he had talked to Brady as well about how some towns had jumped in too quickly on this topic. “We’ve been talking about this quite a bit in the office,” he said, then proposed the committee with himself, Moore and Gage.
“We can use our resources to the best advantage,” said Atherton. “We will do a good job on this; we’ve worked on things like this before.”
After the meeting, Atherton said he didn’t have a specific timeline for the committee, but added, “from what I am learning it appears to be a lengthy process.”
The selectboard also debated whether to do anything about public angst over the traffic lights in town causing the traffic to be worse, but opted to hold off.
During the Town Manager’s Report, Atherton said an estimate for doing a study on the traffic lights on Rt. 7 came in for just over $13,000. Selectboard members Tracy Wyman and Brian Coolidge agreed that there wasn’t much to be gained by doing another study.
“It means we’re busy,” said Wyman.
“There’s more traffic than ever before,” added Atherton. “The traffic is bad everywhere. There’s an increase of people getting out.”
The board had consensus not to do more with the traffic lights at this time.
In another discussion, the board voted 3-2 to mail out Town Meeting ballots to every registered voter in town.
In another discussion, the board voted 3-2 to mail out Town Meeting ballots to every registered voter in town. Wyman and Coolidge voted against. In a nutshell, those supporting the measure agreed that the measure would increase voter participation, and those against said the cost was higher than the benefit and that people had always gone out and voted in previous years without getting ballots mailed to them.
The board also passed a motion to mail out the school ballot as well, which was also split 3-2, again with Wyman and Coolidge against it.
The school ballot will only be mailed out if the other towns in the school district vote to mail the ballot as well. If the school ballot is mailed out; it will be paid for by the school district.
The select board also took action on several items, including:
• The selectboard unanimously appointed three members for the budget committee, which has existed for the past eight years. Those appointed were: Peter Werner, Neil Silins and Doug Bailey.
• The board appointed Fire Chief Tom Kilpeck to serve as an emergency services representative on the Regional Emergency Management Committee.
• The board discussed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) project list again. Atherton had estimates for three of the projects—connecting two of the fire districts at a cost of about $70,000; the engineering costs for the Newton Road Pump Station would be $10,700 and the project would cost about $500,000; and a proposal for a rebate program with the energy committee for $25,000, or about 2 percent. The Union Street project, which had been discussed previously, did not have an estimate to consider.
• The board also unanimously passed a motion to send a letter of support for the Carver Street Sidewalk Project.
At the end of the meeting, the board went into executive session.
The first executive session was an attorney/client privileged discussion in which no action was taken.
The second session was added by the selectboard Monday night to discuss a police department union grievance. There was a motion made after the board came back into open session for board chair Seth Hopkins to draft a letter to the police department union concerning the grievance.