Brandon rejects town, school budgets; Gage elected clerk
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | March 05,2014
Patricia Minichiello / Staff Photo
A sign in Brandon, placed strategically in front of a snowman and an American flag, urges passing motorists Tuesday to reject the town budget.
BRANDON — Faced with a double-digit jump in the town budget, voters overwhelmingly rejected a $3,276,095 spending plan Tuesday.
The budget was defeated by a vote of 818-400. The overall budget was up modestly but the amount to be raised by taxes, $2,671,420, was up a whopping 14.8 percent for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The $5,356,775 school budget also went down to defeat by a vote of 639-577.
The Select Board has attributed the spike in the town budget to poor budgeting in past years with the general fund surplus used to keep property taxes artificially low.
Last year, it took four votes to pass the budget — a spending plan that resulted in a 3.74 percent increase in the amount of the budget to be raised by taxes.
Selectman Blaine Cliver said late Tuesday night that the budget defeat, while disappointing was not unexpected. Cliver would not offer up any specific areas of the budget to cut but said it has to be revisited and not just by the Select Board.
“I think we need to just step back and look at it all again, not just as a Select Board, but as a town and really decide where we need to go from here,” said Cliver, who won re-election Tuesday.
In the race for Select Board, Cliver, Maria Ammatuna and Ethan Swift were elected.
Ammatuna, who was appointed to the board last year, was elected to a three-year seat, defeating former Selectman Richard Baker. Cliver and Swift also defeated Baker in the race for the two, one-year seats.
For the first time in 20 years, Brandon has a new town clerk and treasurer. Susan Gage was elected to the dual post, which are voted separately. Gage defeated Anna Scheck, the town bookkeeper; Sara-Ann Johnston Stevens; and Richard Baker.
Gage received 568 votes in the clerk’s race. Stevens was second with 399 votes. Scheck received 152 votes and Baker received 124 votes.
Gage takes over the positions from retiring clerk/treasurer William Dick.
Voters approved funding for the Union Street and Wheeler Road construction projects. Brandon residents approved most funding requests for social service agencies but did reject money requests from The Boys and Girls Club of Brandon, the Rutland County Parent Child Center, BROC, and the Stephen A. Douglas Birthplace Community Center.