More Questions Than Votes
Fall Town Meeting raised many more questions about process than it voted on articles.
First question, does the lack of quorum require additional discussion about the merits of allowing Town Meeting to authorize large commitments of our tax resources without a following ballot vote? When Town Meeting had a quorum requirement, there was at least a guaranteed percentage of the voting/taxpaying public who weRe approving the commitment. Without one, 50 people could show up and commit to any amount. This seems more like taxation without representation to me.
Second question, is it prudent to bring any article for large amounts, greater than $100,000, to Fall Town Meeting? We do not know what impact it will have on the next budget and if the commitment will be in place of a more important need. We spend closer and closer to the levy limit and then in Spring Town Meeting we are suddenly looking for an override for the schools or some other need. Fall Town Meeting is voting in a fiscal vacuum and unless it is an emergency, all articles should be brought forward in the Spring Town Meeting with ballot approval for large commitments.
Third question, why would there be a request to limit debate when there is a $12,000,000 article on the warrant? If 500 people were going to vote on an article that would force a $40,000 impact to my home, I would want more than three minutes to express my concerns. Thank goodness, wiser votes prevailed, even though there was not a majority. What is the fear here, a filibuster, a la "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?" Someone begins speaking on an article before a controversial article forcing it past the 10 o'clock time limit? Seems to me this is a small price to pay for the right to address Town Meeting.
I hope any future candidate for Selectmen will commit to a policy that articles for large expenditures be required to include ballot approval. Payment by 100 percent of taxpayers should require more than approval by a percentage limited to two-thirds of the limit that the fire code will allow in to Town Meeting.