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Recounts Scheduled for Three Grafton Articles

Grafton — Residents have petitioned for a recount of the operating budget, which failed by 14 votes at the March 12 town meeting.

Voters had earlier reduced the proposed spending plan by $128,00 at the deliberative session.

The Grafton Selectboard had proposed a town budget of $954,523, but the roughly 70 residents in attendance at the deliberative session voted 33-32 to trim the budget to $825,956, a cut of about $128,000. The cuts to the budget were largely encouraged by Grafton “Free Staters” and their supporters.

The Selectboard argued that if the cuts were made, residents would see a significant cut in services, especially to the highway and police departments. Selectboard Chairman Steve Darrow said the slashing of the budget was frustrating because it cut from the bottom line.

“If we went line by line we could make decisions instead of slashing it arbitrarily like that,” Darrow said.

But when residents went to the polls, they rejected the Free Staters’ budget by a 270-256 vote. A rejection of the budget means the town will use a $940,366 default budget, which is the same as last year and only $14,000 less than the Selectboard’s proposed budget.

“I was very pleased that the budget failed,” Darrow said.

The recount will be held on Tuesday, said Deputy Town Clerk Kami Stone. She was unsure of the time.

Residents also petitioned for a recount of articles 16 and 18. Article 16 was a petition article that asked residents to pass “Grafton’s right to a sustainable energy future and community self-government ordinance.” The article, which passed 255-252, said it will give people rights to “determine their own energy future.”

Article 18 was also by petition and would have allowed tax exemptions on Woodheating Energy Systems. The article failed 252-240.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.