The Board of Finance (BOF) voted 4-1 Tuesday to recommend that the Board of Selectmen (BOS) split into two questions for the referendum, expected to be set for May 15 (May 12 if set for a Saturday).
The ultimate decision will be made by residents at the annual Town Meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, in the (BHS) auditorium.
“Personally, I really don’t care if it’s one vote or two separate votes, but in this case I do care,” Finance Chairman Jerry Friedrich said, explaining that without , “If we have one vote this year and it gets turned down, we will have no guidance on the budget. If we had the questions, I could go either way.”
New BOF member Robin Appleby agreed, stating, “If you want to serve the people you want as much information about what they want… I’m for splitting it and having as much information as we can.”
Board member Ron Jaffe, the only dissenting vote, asserted the people may be more inclined to vote against the budget if it is bifurcated (split in two).
“When people walk in and they have a choice and they see a higher number and a lower number, they say, ‘I’ll vote against the higher number,’” he suggested.
The town has had the ability to bifurcate the budget since passing a charter revision in 2007, however the option was not used until 2011. Last year, residents and also chose to schedule the vote on a Saturday.
In the , the education budget was , 1,859-1,850, while the municipal side passed by 106. After the , they by margins of 107 and 578 votes, respectively.
Jaffe also suggested that the voters approve or defeat a total spending number, not how that money is allocated, meaning the decisions fall to the board members.
“Given what we know about the needs, given what we know about the services we provide, would having the total budget go down by nine or part of the budget go down by nine affect our decisions at all,” he posed.
Vice Chairman Irv Agard pointed out that the 2011-12 budget passed on the second referendum after Finance “only adjusted the Board of Education budget, so maybe it did have an impact.”
Agard made the motion to “advise” the BOS to split the budget, which passed 4-1.
The BOS will make their official recommendation to the Town Meeting at a special meeting Thursday night, after a town meeting on the .