Brandon voters say no to budget and solar; Bailey, Ethier, & Nelson win seats on SB


BRANDON—After a tense election season in which Brandon residents expressed extreme frustration with budget increases and rising taxes, voters in the town rejected the proposed FY25 budget, which had increased by more than 13% over the current year’s, and the proposed town-owned solar array, which would have required a $500K bond.  

With 1,377 ballots submitted, the town budget received 610 votes (45%) in favor and 741 votes (55%) against.  

The FY25 proposed budget included a $300K line item for road paving, without which the budget would’ve increased by less than 5%.  In past years, paving had been placed as a standalone appropriation on the ballot, a maneuver that some Selectboard members had called “smoke and mirrors” because it allowed the Board to claim a smaller budget increase.  

Brandon voters also rejected the proposed $500K bond for a town-owned solar array.  The array had been the center of controversy for months, with the Brandon Energy Committee expending a good deal of time and energy promoting the idea and numerous residents vociferously arguing against it at Selectboard meetings and on social media.  

The tally on the solar array was 351 votes (34%) in favor and 890 votes (66%) against.

New Selectboard

Voters returned three experienced members to the Brandon Selectboard: Doug Bailey, Ralph Ethier, and Heather Fjeld Nelson.  Mr. Bailey has won a three-year term, taking the seat vacated by Tracy Wyman.  Mr. Ethier and Ms. Fjeld have won single-year terms.

All three already had experience on the Board, with Mr. Bailey having once served on the Board for several years and Mr. Ethier and Ms. Nelson having both been appointed to partial terms after departures of members from the Board.  Ms. Nelson was serving on the Board at the time of the election and will retain her seat.

Mr. Bailey said in an email to The Reporter:

“I would like to thank the 1,200-plus residents on taking the time to vote.  Our first challenge will be to set a new budget that we can get passed with input from our taxpayers.  I appreciate all the candidates for getting involved in our town.”

Ms. Nelson wrote:

“Thank you to everyone who gave me their support.  I am excited to continue working for our town as a Selectboard member.  While it is disappointing that the proposed budget didn’t pass, I look forward to working with a great group of Selectboard members to make changes and present voters with another proposed budget.”

We did not receive a response from Mr. Ethier before we went to press.

Other Votes 

  • Bill Moore was re-elected to a one-year term as Town Moderator.
  • Laura Miner was re-elected to a three-year term as Trustee of Public Funds.
  • David Roberts was re-elected to a 2-year term as Trustee of the Brandon Free Public Library.


Voters approved all the appropriations requested by local organizations:

  • $4,000 for ARC-Rutland
  • $7,000 for the Brandon Independence Day Celebration Committee
  • $25,000 for the Brandon American Legion Post #55
  • $1,000 for the Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce
  • $82,580 for the Brandon Area Rescue Squad
  • $92,000 for the Brandon Free Public Library
  • $5,000 for the Brandon Museum at the Stephen A. Douglas Birthplace
  • $15,000 for the Brandon Senior Center
  • $3,000 for the Charter House Coalition
  • $1,000 for the Open Door Clinic of Addison County
  • $550 for RSVP & The Volunteer Center
  • $1,500 for the Rutland County Humane Society
  • $2,900 for the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging
  • $10,200 for the VNA Hospice of the Southwest Region

Other Articles

Voters voted yes on two other articles: 

  • The town will now implement a 30-day grace period for those who miss the May 15 tax-payment deadline before the 8% late-payment penalty is assessed.
  • “Yes” votes narrowly outnumbered “no” votes (719 to 622) on the non-binding advisory question as to whether the town should hire additional police officers to ensure 24-hour on-duty police coverage.

Presidential Primary

Brandon voters chose President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump as their Democratic nominee and Republican nominee, respectively.  President Biden received 355 votes and former President Trump received 354.

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