Public safety expenditures in Berlin are second only to education and are the largest part of the municipal budget. Giving up control of that portion of our budget is giving up significant control of our town.
Right now the town of Berlin has 100 percent control over its emergency services. The moment we join the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority with Barre and Montpelier our ownership, control, and ability to make major decisions in our hometown regarding public safety go right out the window into the hands of the authority.
Compared to Berlin, Barre and Montpelier are both developed cities with large government structure, combined populations of about 17,000 people, aging complicated infrastructure, and combined annual budgets in excess of $22,500,000. Berlin has only 2,900 residents, has a budget of $2,500,000 and doesn’t even have a downtown. This disparity creates a high probability that Barre and Montpelier will find common ground due to their similarities and drive the decisions concerning the costs and direction of the authority.
Barre and Montpelier together spend 900 percent more money every year than Berlin does. As a member of the authority with equal voting rights, Barre and Montpelier combined will always have more votes to apply toward their common interests leaving Berlin defeated and with no recourse.
A petition is circulating requesting Berlin residents vote on the regional public safety authority charter. The most basic, sound business practice and common sense thinking is, don’t sign anything you haven’t read and thoroughly understand. If you have not read the charter that proponents are so anxious to get us to sign first and understand later, you can read it at: www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/Intro/H-892.pdf
If you don’t have time to read the charter, I am confident that every select board member has Berlin’s best interests in mind and it is public knowledge that we have been unanimously opposed to Berlin’s participation in the authority.
Berlin has a bright future ahead of it and there is no need to sell our soul and lock ourselves into this authority. There will be more public safety options available that will allow us to retain the freedom and control of our town and still provide public safety to meet our growing needs.