Brandon selectboard chair steps down

BRANDON — The chair of the Brandon selectboard abruptly resigned this on Jan. 12, and her board postponed approval of a preliminary budget to send to voters.
Maria Ammatuna, in a letter read publicly by Brandon selectboard Vice Chair Dave Atherton, cited critical health concerns as the reason for her sudden resignation.
“I have become aware of some serious personal medical issues that I need to focus my time and attention to,” Ammatuna wrote. “I thank my board colleagues for the collaborations thus far and the progress we have made. I thank the taxpayers we serve for putting their trust in me to serve on their behalf.”
And in a nod toward the hopes for a budget passing on Town Meeting Day, as opposed to multiple votes as in the past two years, Ammatuna wrote, “I look forward to the positive outcomes of the selectboard’s current plans.”
In her letter, Ammatuna also endorsed Seth Hopkins for appointment to the open board seat. She said her endorsement was based on the letter of interest Hopkins sent to be considered for the open seat when Blaine Cliver resigned last fall. Doug Bailey was ultimately appointed to that seat, but Hopkins was appointed to the current Taxpayers’ Budget Committee, and Ammatuna cited his contributions to that committee as another reason for her endorsement. The board did not take any action on a board appointment Monday night.
Reached by phone early last week, Ammatuna said the budget the board and the Budget Committee hammered out over four days the previous week is one she hopes the voters will approve.
“It was difficult,” she said. “ The board wants to move forward, but we can’t pay for all of our needs right now.”
She said the cost of fixing the numerous infrastructural issues facing Brandon is too large to even begin to address in the general operating budget. She said it is her hope that road and sidewalk repair projects will be separated from the regular municipal budget and put up for a bond vote. That way the project would be paid for over a 20-year bond.
“We end up borrowing money, which isn’t great, but if the townspeople want more of a say, then we’ll let them decide,” she said.

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