O Citoyen!

Four Pennies

A friend, Susan Wilmott, has recently been donating pairs of boots and shoes for use by visitors of the Loaves & Fishes kitchen.  One of our volunteers, Ken, had been looking out for folks whose footwear is less than adequate for the winter weather and figuring out whether we had the right size. This Friday, Ken was ill and was absent from the kitchen, but in true Loaves & Fishes style, another volunteer, Diane, happened to show up to take his place. She pointed out to me a man I have seen walking, almost constantly, around town, always carrying a shopping bag. She said he was wearing “flip-flops”  --- meaning not the sandals, but that the soles of his shoes were becoming detached from the uppers. I took him aside and asked if he could use a pair of shoes and then found one in his size.  He tried them on, gave me a thumbs up, and reached in his pocket and gave me four pennies. He kept one back for himself, as a lucky penny, flipped it in the air and caught it on the fly. We both laughed.

Brattleboro Selectboard Candidates Forum

Friday, February 17, 2016


The following candidates have filed petitions to run for Brattleboro Selectboard:

For a Term of Three Years (1 seat):   David Schoales

For a Term of One Year (2 seats):      David Cadran

                  Brandie Starr

                  Avery Schwenk

                                                          Tim Wessel

All the candidates running for election have been invited to participate in a forum to be held on February 17 at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St., Brattleboro (downstairs)

There will be time reserved for questions and answers - you may submit questions via email prior to the event:

=> As we need to plan for the number of people having breakfast the RSVP deadline is Tuesday, February 14th.  Reply by email to  or call 518-505-9031.

=> Breakfast is provided by Senior Meals and will feature whole wheat pancakes. The cost is $6.00 for those under 60 years of age ($3.50 is the suggested donation for those over 60 years).
=> Brattleboro Time Traders may use one time credit hour to attend the breakfast, hosted by Brattleboro Senior Meals (Meals on Wheels).

Warning for Town Meeting Election on March 7 & Representative Town Meeting on March 25

Brattleboro Office of Town Clerk Election Page on brattleboro.org

What’s new? Register to vote online

“Four to compete for open one-year seats on Selectboard,” The Commons, Wed., Feb. 1, 2017

Robert A. Oeser 

PO Box 6001

Brattleboro VT   05302


home: 802-254-8750

cell:    518-505-9031

Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell on Town Operations

Friday, October 21, 2016

An Extensive Report


Town Manager Peter Elwell explained the process resulting in the Comprehensive Review of Town Operations page on Brattleboro.org CRTO Document Link began with Town department managers addressing certain questions:

What’s working … and needs attention?

What needs more resources?

What items gets resources for no other reason than we “always have”?

The Town manager took a broader look at issues crossing over departments or needing policy level decisions or “catch up” on infrastructure needs. On the utility side, needs tend to fare better due to the availability of fees to provide funding, as opposed to being  solely dependent on the general fund. Decision points involved stopping resources for items no longer needed and adding resources where needs are apparent. This process resulted in a 50 item list contained in a July draft which was open for community input and review by the SelectBoard. The October report now  lists 57 items.

The criteria considered were:

Can we save money without negatively affecting services?

Are there places where we can improve service without increasing costs?

Are there areas, specifically ones that have experienced cuts in the past, where a judicious increase in capital investment through tax revenue can result in a significant positive impact to the community?

Some representative examples of how this process has played out include:

Employee Benefits (already accomplished) - the goal was to address escalating costs while not reducing the benefit package.

In the health benefits area, a Health Reimbursement Arrangement was created by the Town to provide a layer of self-insurance which would contain risk and lower premiums, for a savings of about $100,000.

In the retirement area, movement from the defined contribution plan for civilian employees to the Vermont Municipal Employees Retirement System (VMERS) defined benefit plan was found to be more affordable and had good marks for management and benefit payouts, for a savings of about $100,000.

Solid Waste (already accomplished) - in addition to diverting organic waste from the waste stream through curbside compost and the collection of glass and plastic recyclables, the reduction in the amount of trash allowed for an every two week garbage pickup schedule. Comparing statistics from July, August and September over the last two years shows an increase of 160% in composting, a 60% decline in garbage, saving the Town about $100,000 in costs and providing other regional and environmental benefits. It was noted that families with young children in diapers are challenged by this system.

Capital Improvement (short term with longer term implications) is about where we’ve been and where we need to move, all of which involves some pain and decisions. In this area we need to be really clear about what we are not funding and to identify what needs to be done, getting realistic about catching up on needs and funding. How much are we willing to pay?

Workers’ Compensation (in progress) - improvement plans are being implemented, but it will be a few years before the beneficial effects will be noticeable due to actuarial smoothing. This area has experienced an increased cost of about $100,000 in recent times.

The Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP) is not a budget. The Town does submit a budget each year for approval at Town Meeting. The budget places the emphasis on holding the line financially and not taxing at a rate we cannot afford.  But a budget is done one year at a time. What needs to be recognized is that doing (or not doing) something this year has an effect in out years, positively or negatively. The LTFP tries to address this by looking at five years of history and forecasting out five years, acknowledging that the fifth year of the forecast may be more uncertain as it is based on estimates. An example of a way to lower debt service expenses in the future is to stop borrowing for equipment rather purchasing equipment on a year to year basis in a more planned way. The goal is to know what we have been spending and make reasonable and conservative guesses about the future.

Some examples of conservative assumptions:

There will be no substantial increase in the Grand List. While there are small increases every year, the assumption is the List will be flat.

While there is confidence of an increase in rental income from space in the municipal building and the Reformer building, the assumption is no increase.

In sum, the forecast is an intentionally pessimistic look so that we can achieve better  outcome numbers than predicted. With that in mind, here are the forecasts for the property tax rate increases:

The projected 4.5¢ increase in FY 22 represents the impact of conservative assumption, i.e., “a worst case scenario,” barring, of course, another catastrophe like Tropical Storm Irene.

Town Manager Elwell concluded by reiterating that the actual increase in any given year should be at least a little less than what is currently predicted and by stating his strong confidence that the increase needed in FY22 will be reduced to something more in line with what is currently predicted for FY19, FY20, and FY21.

A Question and Answer period followed.

O Citoyen!

is written by 

Robert Oeser