Opinion: Shakeup of selectboard needed for Brandon to improve
In a letter penned by Mr. Allan Doaner of Forest Dale in the April 16, 2014, edition of the Brandon Reporter he took issue with a statement by Devon Fuller, a Brandon selectman, which appeared in a Rutland Herald article, who stated Brandon is a first-class town. While I agree more than Mr. Doaner than Devon Fuller, I also disagree a lot with Mr. Doaner.
Mr. Doaner asserts that a classy town has a nice shopping center, not a town with 100-year-old buildings that may or may not be full. Most of the “historic business district” is more accurately described as 100-year-old building shells. Much if not all the interiors have been done over throughout the years. Brandon did have a chance for a nicer shopping facility just south of the village. Yet, a small group of people ended that for Brandon.
As to our youth going off to college and returning to a first-class town, well I believe that even in those communities we are seeing a dismal number of returning college graduates. That is in part I believe, because of salaries and other issues.
As a one-horse town, Brandon has almost unaffordable taxes. It is the citizens that vote on their budgets and thus have a say (small as it may be) on their property taxes. In some recent years March town meeting has seen less than half of the registered voters voting on Town Meeting Day. Apparently those who sit at home and don’t vote must agree with the presented budgets. Granted, Brandon is finally waking up and realizing that taxes are ridiculous. Though the board likes to blame the past town manager and past boards, which three-fifths of the current board have been on for three or more years.
No Devon Fuller and Mr. Doaner are both wrong, in my opinion. The one horse Brandon once had was tied up to an old marble hitching post and left Brandon when the going got good. Now all Brandon is left with is a bunch of jackasses. The sad part is it is the majority of people who sit back and remember the good old Brandon and the days when she was a hub for surrounding communities. Too many people complain about one thing or another. Yet year after year there have been few uncontested races. And try filling some of the various boards and look to see the huge (NOT) number of people seeking to fill them.
Brandon is slowly but surely getting what she has asked for now many years. Some of this is resulting in higher taxes, depleting depreciation accounts for equipment and not replacing the money for future needs, boards telling stories about why the budget is the way it is and the need for more money. Brandon, like much of the state of Vermont, is business unfriendly. Well, maybe excluding the mom-and-pop businesses that might hire a couple of extra people. Yet they want the moon and low taxes.
Personally, I believe Brandon has been ill served by a few recent past boards. And Brandon would have been better off with three-fifths of their current board being replaced. Oh, but wait, Brandon wanted them as nobody ran against them. Yes. Brandon was a classy town, then a one-horse town. The question is how long will Brandon stay as it is before getting back to a one-horse town working to be a first-class town, such as when I was a child growing up in Brandon.
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