In the coming weeks a petition will likely be circulating requesting Berlin residents to vote on the regional public safety authority charter. If the town of Berlin votes yes on this item, it will join Berlin to a regional governing authority and merge Berlin’s public safety services (police, fire, EMS) with Barre City and Montpelier. A no vote on this item will allow Berlin to retain local control over these important services.
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 Berlin has 100 percent control over its emergency services. If we join the authority, our ownership, control, and ability to make decisions regarding public safety will no longer be our own.
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 approximately 2,900 residents, a budget of about $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 members of the authority they will always have more votes to apply toward their common interests, leaving Berlin defeated.
Basic business practices and common sense thinking say, don’t sign anything you haven’t read and thoroughly understand. If you have not read the charter, do not sign a petition. I have read the charter several times; it is complex, lengthy, and unfavorable to Berlin. Get your copy at: https://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.