Will the Brattleboro budget stand?
BRATTLEBORO -- A group of Brattleboro residents is trying to collect enough signatures to overturn the June 2 Representative Town Meeting vote that approved the FY 2015 budget.
Town Meeting Representatives voted 112-12 to approve the $15.7 million budget at a special meeting held Monday, June 2.
Brattleboro residents have until 5 p.m., Thursday, June 12 to collect the signatures from 50 Town Meeting Reps, or from 5 percent, or 418 registered voters on a petition calling for a townwide referendum.
Town Meeting Representative Kurt Daims said the budget is still too high and if voters are asked again to weigh in on the spending plan, they will overturn the vote.
"I have reason to believe that there would be support for a referendum," Daims said. "The Town Meeting Reps might be tired of talking about it, but people are telling me they think it is still too high. It started at around $16 million and it's still around $16 million."
Town Meeting Representatives approved a $16.1 million budget at the regular meeting on March 22, but opponents of the budget collected signatures fROm 56 Town Meeting Reps, which forced a townwide vote that was held April 17.
The budget was overturned by a vote of 478 in favor of the budget and 771 opposed.
The board reduced the original budget, which included putting the town's police-fire facilities project on hold, and the new budget was approved June 2.
The townwide vote was held on April 17 because enough Town Meeting Reps were willing to give the voters a chance to vote on it, but Daims said he wasn't sure there was still support from among the Town Meeting Reps this time.
Daims said he, and the others who want to see another vote, are going to try to collect enough resident signatures this time.
"The vote on Monday was much stronger," Daims said about the Representative Town Meeting last week. "I think Town Meeting Reps are tired of the issue and there will be less support for another vote. I am hearing that another vote will cause more harm than good, and that people are ready to move on."
Town Meeting Representative, and former Finance Committee Chairman Spoon Agave, handed the last petition to Town Clerk Annette Cappy and helped collect some of the signatures from his fellow Town Meeting Reps.
Agave said he is not going to help gather signatures this time.
For Agave, the last budget referendum was a vote on the police-fire project, and he said with the project now on hold and the Selectboard agreeing to open up debate on the scope of the project, he was willing to let this budget stand.
"I think with the project on hold they can come up with a more useful and efficient design," Agave said. "I do believe it was important to put the police-fire project on hold and I am satisfied with the new budget."
Cappy said the April 17 referendum on the budget cost the town about $5,400 to program the electronic machines, rent a room for an informational meeting, hire staff for the vote, take out public notices and pay for other costs associated with the vote.
She said, as far as she understands, there is no limit on the number of times a referendum can be called on a Representative Town Meeting vote.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.
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