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WVN #17: Town Meeting wrap-up

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  • waylandvoters2
    WAYLAND VOTERS NETWORK May 14, 2004 Dear Wayland Voter, Annual Town Meeting concluded Wednesday night, a few minutes before midnight. It s a good thing.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 14, 2004
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      WAYLAND VOTERS NETWORK
      May 14, 2004

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Annual Town Meeting concluded Wednesday night, a few minutes before
      midnight. It's a good thing. Those of us who managed to hang on
      until the end of the sixth and final night were about to turn into
      pumpkins.

      The lengthiest debate involved Article 29, Final Appropriation Public
      Safety Building. The Board of Selectmen reduced the amount requested
      from $125,000 to $92,000. Still, several speakers expressed concern
      over the total cost of the project (nearly $8 million for
      construction plus $4 million for interest on the debt), and objected
      to being asked by the Selectmen to approve additional funds for the
      third time. The article needed a 2/3 majority to pass. It was
      defeated by a vote of 88 ayes to 71 nays.

      Article 33 (scheduling of ballot questions) was also defeated, by a
      vote of 79 ayes to 117 nays. This article would have required that
      ballot questions involving capital expenditures or Proposition 2 and
      1/2 debt exclusion overrides over $2.5 million be presented at
      elections that typically have higher voter turnout, such as a
      presidential election, state biennial election, annual Town election,
      or special Town election coinciding with a national or statewide
      vote. Opponents said this article would restrict the Selectmen's
      authority to decide what goes on the ballot and when, and could have
      risked delaying a vote on the high school project until the annual
      Town election next April. (Editor's note: Some 30-40 opponents of
      Article 33 arrived in time to vote on the article, and then left Town
      Meeting shortly after the vote was taken. The Moderator expressed
      surprise at the sudden increase in attendance before the vote. We
      found his surprise, well, surprising. It's no secret that special
      interests can pack Town Meeting and can sway an election, especially
      a special election called to consider their pet issueÂ…which is why
      WVN supported Article 33 in the first place.)

      Several other petitioners' articles related to participation in the
      democratic process were approved by voice votes. These include:

      Article 34 (posting notices of special as well as annual Town
      Meetings and elections)
      This article requires that all Town Meetings and Town elections be
      advertised on all Town signboards at least two weeks ahead of and
      through the event.

      Article 35 (publicizing special as well as annual Town elections)
      This article requires that every election associated with a Town
      Meeting be publicized on the front cover of the Town Meeting warrant
      booklet (which is mailed to every household).

      Article 36 (accommodating overflow crowd at Town Meeting)
      This article provides that the Moderator and Selectmen prepare in
      advance a contingency plan for accommodating an overflow crowd at
      Town Meeting.

      Article 39 (publishing Town debt)
      This article requires that information about the outstanding Town
      debt be published in the Town's Annual Reports, and that a number of
      details be reported by project to help voters understand the current
      and future impact of certain spending decisions.

      Article 40 (providing more information about real estate assessments)
      This article requires the Board of Assessors to provide individual
      taxpayers with written explanations of the specific reasons for
      changes to assessments, whether from abatement requests, regular
      reevaluations, sales, or renovations. It also requires that the
      Assessors make two things available to the general public:
      comprehensible, summarized details of their valuation algorithm, and
      a map showing areas of different assigned land values.

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
      friends and neighbors in Wayland. If they want to receive their own
      copy, they can send an email to waylandvoters2@... and they
      will be signed up for the listserv. Or, they can sign themselves up
      by sending a blank email to waylandvotersnetwork-
      subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Click reply and send after receiving an e-
      mail confirming the subscription. Anyone who'd rather receive
      information from WVN by phone or regular mail should leave a message
      at (508) 358-9171.

      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove, Chair
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