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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Brattleboro Voters Overturn Budget

Susan Keese
Fifteen percent of the town's voters cast ballots in Brattleboro's budget revote. Almost half voted early, by absentee ballot.

Voters in Brattleboro overturned the town’s 2015 municipal budget in a town-wide ballot Thursday. The $16 million spending plan was approved at Brattleboro’s representative town meeting on March 22. But later, more than the required 50 town meeting representatives signed a petition to revisit the budget in a town-wide referendum. The budget failed by a wide margin, 771 to 478.

Brattleboro resident Spoon Agave supported the recall. He says the town’s $14 million police and fire facilities makeover, approved by town representatives in 2012, had a lot to do with the outcome of Thursday’s vote.

"The project, as planned, was going to cost the voters a million dollars a year for 20 years," Agave said. "And that felt like an exorbitant amount of money to be spending at a time when so many people are concerned about whether they can pay their rent or their mortgages."

Brattleboro Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland says he’s not sure why the budget failed or how the town’s select board will respond.

"It’s going to be up to the board at this point in time to consider what other options they would like to put together for the next budget," Moreland said. "That could include a change to the police and fire facility. It might not."

Either way, Moreland says, the board will have to craft a new budget and schedule another representative town meeting to vote on it. Brattleboro is the only Vermont town with a representative town meeting government.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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