Those in attendance at the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 3, voted to bifurcated the municipal and education budgets into two questions and, for the first time in town history, to hold the first budget vote of the year on a Saturday.
Brookfield residents have gone to the polls on Saturdays for budget referendums before, however in the past the tactic has been reactionary, used in an attempt to bolster turnout if ballot numbers were low during the first, failed vote.
Brookfielders in attendance Tuesday voted 97 to 68 to hold the town wide referendum on Saturday, May 14, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Registered voters can cast their ballots at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School (HHES) or Brookfield High School (BHS), whichever is their usual polling place. ( to find out where to vote.)
Residents also moved, 111 to 61, to split the town and school budgets into two separate questions. On May 14, voters will be asked to approve or reject two appropriation requests: .
“The Board of Finance has recommended a bifurcated budget and now that the advisory questions have been eliminated, a bifurcated budget is more important than ever,” resident John Berger said in support of a split vote.
Advisory questions, , as they are not explicitly mentioned in the town charter, give dissenting voters the opportunity to state whether they think the budget is too low or too high. Without that input, proponents of bifurcation wanted to get whatever information they can should the referendum fail.
Board of Education (BOE) Vice Chairman Rob Gianazza chose to speak “in support of the split budget, not because it divides the town but because it gives the boards a better idea of what the community has to say,” he said.
Gianazza added a reminder to voters that, “Regardless of whether the budget is split or one vote, it has to pass all together,” however, if it does fail, “It will give direction to which portion of [the budget] the community disagrees with and doesn’t support.”
“This budget represents a good plan in whole and in part and deserves the full support of the community,” Selectman Howard Lasser said. “As for giving feedback or direction: the best way to do that is in the public hearings, emails, letters or phone calls or at this public meeting. That is clearly the best way to get answers to questions, clarify points and get actionable feedback to your representatives.”
For more information on the proposed 2011-12 budget, watch the video of Tuesday’s presentations above and flip through the full slideshow.