(Host) Brandon residents will have a chance to vote Tuesday on a controversial one-million dollar bond proposal.
The bond would pay for the construction of a new downtown municipal office building as well as the renovation of an existing building for a new police station.
As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, the cost of the bond drew heated debate at last night’s town meeting.
(Keck) Brandon’s town offices and police department currently share an old two-story building on Route 7. Local officials have known for years that it’s too small and doesn’t meet federal safety and accessibility standards. So they set out to find a space that would meet the needs of the town and police for one-million dollars or less.
They proposed renovating a pair of existing buildings just north of town on property formerly used by the Brandon Training School. That plan would cost about $525,000.
But a group of local residents wants keep the municipal offices downtown. They’ve come up with an alternative plan that would cost nearly twice as much.
Brandon resident Nancy Leary designed the plans for the one-million dollar bond project, which include construction of a new building just up the street from the current town offices:
(Leary) "My interest in keeping this town office downtown is to keep our community. What makes Vermont special, which is that we have these small, compact towns. And if you start spreading out, you lose that unique quality."
(Keck) Leary and others argue that Brandon needs to invest in its downtown if it wants to attract other businesses.
As part of their proposal, the current town office would be bought and redeveloped. But opponents to the bond, like Brian Fillioe say such an investment is simply too expensive:
(Fillioe) "Tom Brokaw occasionally does a thing called the ‘Fleecing of America.’ I think this proposal should be called the ‘Fleecing of the Brandon Taxpayer.’"
(Keck) Brandon Voters will weigh in on the issue today from 7 a.m. to 7p.m.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Brandon.