LETTER: Good Ideas for Improving Town Meeting by Rule Loving
Would the following suggestions benefit the Town Meeting Process?
Four weeks prior to Town Meeting, or Special Town Meeting, the Warrant, including the funding mechanism for each article, is presented to all Boards and Committees. Votes are taken, recorded and included in the Warrant mailed to voters.
In order to add perspective, each amount requested in the warrant is given a perspective of the cost per $100,000 of a home's value. For example, we debated a $36,000 capital expenditure for the Country Club for the better part of 30 minutes at Town Meeting. The cost per $100,000 of a home's value was about $1. The entire $409,000 of the capital budget was close to $10 per $100,000.
If this same information is included in the Town Meeting Packet, it would no longer be necessary to call upon each committee for their vote, but if they wanted to speak to an article, the opportunity would still be available. If these votes were presented as part of the mailed Warrant, proponents and opponents would have time to prepare their arguments and there would be no surprises at Town Meeting.
If the Warrant is available four weeks prior to Town Meeting, anyone who would like to offer an amendment, can prepare it, present it to the Finance Committee or any other Committee that has a voting opinion to allow time for them to vote on the amendment as well as the original article.
I believe these changes would improve the atmosphere of Town Meeting, focus debate on critical issues, put monetary articles in a better perspective, and in the end attract more voters.
A copy of this letter has been forwarded to the Town Manager, to offer an opportunity for some debate on the merits of these suggestions.