The Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted 2-1 to send a single budget question to the Annual Town Meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on May 1 in the (BHS) auditorium.
After the motion was made, Selectman George Walker, the dissenting vote, asked why the board did not consider , separating the municipal and education budgets into two questions for the referendum. (Were the budget split, both questions would have to pass in the same referendum for the budget as a whole to pass.)
“It’s the same thing I’ve been saying for ever and ever,” First Selectman Bill Davidson offered, “I think we’re one town and we should have one vote… I’ve been in favor of doing it that way ever since I’ve been able to make a decision on this.”
“We are one town, but it will certainly give us feedback,” Walker countered. “I think we would get much, much better feedback from the community — if they feel there are problems on one side versus the other.”
The BOF voted 4-1 to recommend a split budget, with those members in favor stating that they wanted as much information as possible should the budget fail.
“There’s been plenty of time for people to express themselves on the budget,” Selectman Howard Lasser said. “To have two big pieces and have people try to figure out what a teacher makes or what does a police officer make. We spent a lot of time on [the budget]… we know the details, they [the BOF] know the details, they’re in the best position to make the decisions” on how to adjust the budget should it fail.
“I give a lot of weight to what the Board of Finance had to say,” Walker said, adding, “This is not something new that this town hasn’t done before,” , “and I feel we .”
Lasser said he could not remember a year when the BOF did not recommend bifurcation, though he added that he had “never been for it,” either as a selectman or a BOF member.
The BOS decision sends to the Town Meeting as a single question, however if a motion is made during the meeting, a majority vote of residents present can overturn that decision.
“I hope somebody stands up and makes the motion,” Lasser said, “So that the people can decide on it.”