Brandon budget passes on third vote; includes $85K for paving


BRANDON—After three votes and several months of heated debate, Brandon voters approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2025. The ratio of yes to no in this round was firmly in favor of yes: 449 (62%) to 270 (38%). Voters also approved an $85,000 appropriation for paving (441 yes to 276 no), which means the total amount approved is $3,413,882, with $2,889,212 to be raised by taxes. This represents a 2% increase in total spending over the current year and an increase of 5.5% in the amount to be raised by taxes.

Voters rejected two earlier proposals that increased spending by as much as 13%, pressuring the Selectboard to find even deeper cuts. After the first proposed budget failed, the Board cut $215K in paving from the budget and removed a $24K payment on a new police cruiser. The $215K consisted of the removal of the High Pond Road repaving project and the use of $100K in Local Option Tax money, leaving $85K of the original $300K earmarked for paving in that proposal.

When that second proposal failed as well, the Board removed the remaining $85K from the budget, offering it as an appropriation, and eliminated another $24K payment on a second new police cruiser. 

The approval of the $85K appropriation will allow the town to complete paving projects on North Street in Forest Dale and Union Street in Brandon.

The debates leading up to Tuesday’s successful vote had become acrimonious at times, with some residents expressing frustration, even anger, with what they perceived as the Board’s insensitivity and intransigence. Some residents came to the defense of the Board and its proposals, asserting that it was wise in the long run to invest in the town now. The debate continued online, with residents and even Selectboard members clashing on Front Porch Forum and Facebook.

The high emotions over the budget were not surprising in a year when school taxes are projected to increase significantly as well. The budget for the Otter Valley Unified Union district has also failed twice and a third proposal has not yet been formulated by the school board.

The passage of both the main budget and the appropriation means that for every $100,000 of assessed home value, municipal taxes will increase by $3.66 per month, for a total of $43.92 per year. This does not take into account any prebate discounts provided by the state for income sensitivity. Many people will end up paying less than this based on income.

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