On March 6, the voters of Shelburne will be asked to vote yes or no on Article VII, the proposed Chittenden County Public Safety Authority for the purpose of providing regional emergency dispatch.
I would encourage voters to vote no on Article VII.
Shelburne currently has its own 365/24/7 dispatch and contracts with other municipalities. According to Town Manager Joe Colangelo, this contract brings in approximately $350,000. Should this article pass, that revenue goes away and could potentially cost taxpayers more.
This past December, the Chittenden County Public Safety Authority issue came before the Essex Selectboard. Citing too many unknowns and the dispatch study committee not being able to answer questions until the dispatch center is up and running, the Essex Selectboard unanimously voted 5-0 to not put the proposal on the March ballot.
Some of the questions that the dispatch committee could not answer pertain to start-up costs and realistic efficiencies. The dispatch committee said it could not answer these questions because it depends on who joins.
This is an immensely important topic that the Shelburne town manager and Selectboard should have dedicated a special meeting to, so more of the general public could attend, be better informed and make an educated decision.
To be fair, the Shelburne Selectboard did discuss this. However, burying it on the Selectboard meeting agenda and not discussing it until 9 p.m., then posting related documents to the town website, is not an appropriate or effective way to bring this topic to the ballot.
Also, it should be noted more of the pros were presented. The “what-if” and cons were not. The town manager even admitted the information is confusing and difficult to wrap your head around. Additionally, he admitted that this issue took a back seat to other issues.
Accidents happen. Medical emergencies happen. In my opinion, before we “get a seat at the table,” the public needs to be better informed about the Chittenden County Public Safety Authority.
Catherine J. Collette