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Brattleboro voters: Yes to local sales tax

Voters narrowly approve non-binding ballot question; Representative Town Meeting will decide the issue March 22

BRATTLEBORO—“It passed!” cried a jubilant Dick DeGray, his voice echoing in the nearly empty Brattleboro Union High School gym.

Brattleboro voters approved enacting a 1-percent sales tax in a town-wide vote on Tuesday. The non-binding article passed by 36 votes.

The town intends to use the estimated $660,000 the tax would raise toward lowering the town property tax rate.

During his time on the Selectboard, DeGray, a former board chair, made multiple attempts to pass the 1-percent tax.

Town Meeting Members will decide whether to enact the tax at Annual Representative Town Meeting on March 22.

According to Town Finance Director John O’Connor, $660,000 represents the 67.5 percent of the tax revenue the town would receive after the state takes its 30-percent handling fee plus about $5 for every tax return filed.

Enacting the tax, O’Connor said, would fall short of fully funding upgrades to the police station, Central Fire Station, and Station 2 in West Brattleboro. That said, the tax revenue would save property owners with property valued at $100,000 an estimated $33 annually. For a property valued at $250,000, that savings comes to about $143.

Also passing, by 481 votes, was a non-binding resolution urging President Barack Obama and his administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere to less than 350 parts per million.

Races for town officials went uncontested this year. Kim Price was the lone newcomer to races for the town School Board and Selectboard.

Donna Macomber and John Allen will serve one-year terms on the Selectboard. David Schoales will take the open three-year seat.

Schoales will also continue on the town School Board for a three-year term. Mark Truhan, the current vice-chair of the town school board, won a one-year term. Price will also serve a one year term.

Russell Janis and Ian Torrey will continue serving as school directors on the Brattleboro Union High School Board.

Lawrin Crispe was elected town moderator. First and second constable positions went to Steven R. Rowell and Richard H. Cooke, respectively.

As for turnout, 880 registered voters, or 11 percent, cast ballots this year, down from 2013’s numbers, reported Town Clerk Annette Cappy.

She added that this year’s turnout was even smaller than in 2001, when 920 voters braved that year’s infamous Town Meeting Day snowstorm to cast ballots.

That weather was so bad that even some election workers couldn’t reach the polls.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #244 (Wednesday, March 5, 2014). This story appeared on page A1.

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