Brandon residents will choose three new selectboard members

BRANDON — On the ballot this year will be three seats on the selectboard: one three-year term (to replace Tracy Wyman, who is not running for re-election) and two one-year terms. Running for the three-year seat are Doug Bailey and David Snow.  

Incumbent Cecil Reniche-Smith will not seek re-election, but selectboard member Heather Nelson (who was appointed to replace Seth Hopkins) will be on the ballot for a one-year term, along with David Atherton, Ralph Ethier, Ray Marcoux and Aida Nielsen.

Voters will consider proposed fiscal year 2025 municipal spending of $3,796,180, which represents a 13.4% hike over the current year’s spending. If approved, $3,271,510 would be raised from property taxes to cover town spending. Separately, residents will be asked to advise the selectboard on whether to hire an additional police officer to increase on-duty police coverage to 24 hours a day; right now some coverage is done through overtime and on-call officers.

The other big financial request seeks approval to float a $500,000 bond for the town to invest in construction of a 120 kW net-metered solar array on land off Robert Wood Drive. The actual cost of the array would be reduced by state and federal grants.

Brandon voters will consider budgeted appropriations for 14 organizations, the largest of which are $82,580 for the Brandon Area Rescue Squad, $92,000 for the Brandon Free Public Library and $15,000 for the Brandon Senior Center.

The big-ticket on the Brandon ballot this year will be the Otter Valley Unified Union (OVUU) school district budget, which proposes 2024-2025 spending $27,247,823. That budget represents a 12.71% increase over the current year’s spending, but on an equalized pupil basis, it is a 9.74% increase.

Calculations in January showed that this level of spending would drive up education property taxes in the six town district between 17% and 28% for those who paid based on their income (two-thirds of Vermonters pay less for their school taxes because of state support).

Brandon residents may cast ballots on the board representing the OVUU, but this year there will be not many names to choose from. There are no contested races, and only two board members are seeking re-election: Natalie Steen of Brandon and Fernanda Canales of Goshen. But several board members are not running, and a couple are stepping down mid-term. On the ballot with no candidates are a Brandon seat with one year remailing on a three-year term, a Leicester seat with two years remaining on a three-year term, and three-year terms for seats in Whiting, Pittsford and At-Large.

It’s too late to get your name on the ballot, but anyone who wishes to fill one of these school board seats may run a write-in campaign.

Brandon will gather for the annual town meeting on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. at Brandon Town Hall. The only items on the agenda are to hear the selectboard’s explanation of the town budget and the solar array proposal, plus to vote on proposals to exempt the rescue squad and masons from property taxes. Voting by Australian Ballot will take place the next day, March 5, at the Brandon American Legion Post 55, 550 Franklin St., between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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