Brandon’s police chief search draws three strong candidates



BRANDON — In a brief meeting Monday night, the Brandon selectboard reviewed their progress on drafting a budget for fiscal year 2022 and learned that the search for a police chief was “going better than expected,” according to a report from Town Manager David Atherton.


Atherton said he has three “very strong candidates” for the police chief position and that he would be continuing his interview process and narrowing his prospects to a final candidate within the next couple of weeks. “The process has gone much better than I expected, given the tight job market. It has kind of surprised me,” but a welcome surprise, he said.


Prospects to fill the lieutenant’s position before the end of the year, however, have been slower to draw interest, Atherton said, adding that position has been advertised for the past couple of months but has not drawn as much attention. With Police Chief Christopher Brickell leaving at the end of this week, and the lieutenant’s position being vacated by retirement at the end of the year, the department had been eyeing a shortfall, but with the police chief’s position having good prospects that potentially averts a staff shortage and gives the town more breathing room, he said.


On the budget front, Atherton reported that the six week process, so far, has taken the manager’s preliminary budget that had presented a budget of 9% percent over last year’s expenses and gotten it down to about 3% over last year’s expenses. Atherton explained that each of the town’s departments, reviews what they consider their ideal needs to run their departments well, and then it gets fine-tuned from there through the budget workshops.


“We start at what each department thinks we need, then go through this process to whittle it down to what we have to have — hopefully with a lot of give and take (from the board and community,” Atherton said.


With one more budget workshop to go, on Monday, Dec. 20, Atherton said he can’t predict what the selectboard will do to the current draft, but said he hopes there’s enough left to take the town forward, explaining that not putting resources back into the community simply means some of the current infrastructure won’t be adequately maintained and it is likely to cost more in the long run.


In other news, Brandon was notified that three local properties qualified for grants from the Flood Resilient Communities Fund. The fund allows a town to offer residents the current appraised value of their home and funds that amount at 100%. Atherton said he had filed for four properties, and that three of the four were selected for the grant funding. The other property was determined to be commercial and did not qualify. All of the properties were on Newton Road.


Atherton said it was a great value for the residents, since the appraised values are high and yet the land wouldn’t sell for top dollar because it is now in designated flood areas. “It’s good timing for these property owners, and we’re happy to be able to help them out” he said, “and, of course, we hope they’ll find a way to relocate to another place in town.”


There were no public comments and no public input on policing. The scheduled meeting on Dec. 27 was postponed until Jan. 4.

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