Town Meeting

Paper ballots don’t signal dissent

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by Emmett Avery

BROWNINGTON — Brownington’s first in-person Town Meeting in two years saw a three-way race for an open select board seat in which William Falconer prevailed and the passage of the town and road budgets by paper ballot.

The town’s fiscal year 2023 budget of $171,476 passed with 57 votes in favor and ten against.  The road budget of $468,032 passed 50 to 14.

Two of the town’s three select board seats were up for election this year.  Michael Glodgett, who was appointed to Chris Myott’s seat after Mr. Myott’s resigned, was elected by voice vote for the remaining year of a three-year term.

The three-year seat held by second-term selectman William Falconer was also up for election.  Mr. Falconer, Greg Abbott and Mr. Myott all received nominations from the floor, sending the election to a paper ballot.

Mr. Falconer said he enjoyed his time on the board and would like to continue.  Mr. Abbot said he wanted to make Brownington “a little bit better,” and Mr. Myott said he resigned over a “personnel conflict” but would like to continue serving the town.  Mr. Myott declined to comment further when asked for clarification of the reasons for his resignation.

In the first vote, Mr. Falconer received 33 votes, Mr. Abbott received 18, Mr. Myott received 14 and two ballots were spoiled.  With no candidate receiving an absolute majority in the first round, the election went to a second ballot.

Mr. Myott withdrew his name before the second vote.

In the finally tally, Mr. Falconer won with 44 votes, while Mr. Abbott received 24.

The town budget passed with little discussion. However, seven people requested that it be voted on by paper ballot rather than by voice.  Town Moderator Eileen Baker said seven people requesting a paper vote met the threshold at which a paper vote must be held.

With the warning that the proposed budget of $171,476.53 was the only number that could be voted on that day, the town once again lined up to cast ballots — and passed the budget.

Discussion about the road budget was the longest of any question, and a paper ballot was again requested.

“I don’t have an issue with the budget, but I do have an issue with the potholes in my road,” a person in the audience said to general laughter from the roughly 70 people in attendance.

During the discussion, people asked about how the town’s road foreman is paid, whether the town bought new trucks (it is leasing them), and what is going on with the Center Road paving project.

Select Board Chair Beverly White said the road will be finished next summer.

State Representative David Templeman later told this reporter that Brownington is on the Governor’s list of underserved towns.  This, he said, means it is likely to receive extra money that will help cover cost overruns on the Center Road project.

He told his constituents, who are also fellow Brownington members, of H.134 a bill he introduced in the Legislature that would make 35-miles-an-hour the presumed speed limit for all  unpaved roads in Vermont.

Speeding has been a major complaint in Brownington especially since Amish farmers have moved to the town with slow-moving carriages that are threatened by those traveling back roads too fast.

All appropriations passed on a voice vote with little to no discussion.

 

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