Brattleboro: No to charter changes, 1 percent tax
The last vote in Brattleboro on Tuesday night was cast by Stephen Stearns, as poll workers Marshall Wheelock and Elliott Greenblott look on.

Brattleboro: No to charter changes, 1 percent tax

BRATTLEBORO — It was another low-turnout election in Brattleboro on Tuesday, but the voters who did show up were clear in expressing that they would like the Town Charter to remain as is.

All three amendments proposed by the citizen group Brattleboro Common Sense were rejected by voters.

Voters also voted no on a proposed 1-percent local sales tax in a non-binding referendum vote, 672-361.

Even though the vote was non-binding, downtown merchants vigorously lobbied against the tax, saying it would severely damage an already fragile downtown economy.

Town officials said the tax could raise up $600,000 annually, and Town Meeting members will consider the tax at Annual Representative Town Meeting on Saturday, March 21.

According to Town Clerk Annette Cappy, 1,109 of the 7,549 registered voters cast ballots at the Municipal Center, a 15 percent turnout.

A measure to lower the voting age in town elections to age 16 was rejected, 690 to 390.

Another measure that would allow a town-wide referendum on all town expenditures in excess of $2 million by Representative Town Meeting was rejected, 596 to 449.

And a proposal to set a six-year term limit for Town Meeting Members was rejected, 725 to 327.

That amendment would also have moved town elections to the first Tuesday in November, would have required employers to provide two hours of paid leave for voting, would have reinstated the grand juror position, and would have changed the circumstances under which a petition appears before the Selectboard or School Board.

No races were contested on the ballot for town or school officers. Write-in candidates for the numerous vacancies for Town Meeting Representative will be announced in a few days.

Kurt Daims, who has frequently acted as spokesperson for Brattleboro Common Sense, declined to comment for the record Tuesday night on the defeat of the amendments.

In previous statements, Daims said the proposed amendments were submitted to counteract a number of changes to the Town Charter approved in 2011.

He said he believes those changes restrict freedom of speech and public participation in town government.

The Selectboard took the unusual step of issuing an information sheet to voters before the election expressing opposition to the charter changes.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates