Monday, January 28, 2008

High Noon Town Hall Budget Meeting

After the Donnybrook on Wednesday night at the Special Select Board meeting where the vote was 2-2 to run to Town Meeting on advice about the upcoming budget (think Override) today the Budget Coordinating Group (BCG) is meeting to take a second bite at the apple.

When your mix includes the Town Manager, Superintendent of the Schools, (two highestpaid employees in town) the chairs of both Regional Schools and Amherst Schools you can pretty much get as many bites as you please.

12:30 PM
Kusner is 25 minutes late because he’s been upstairs helping to draft the warrant article for a Special Town Meeting. Kinda gives you a hint as to how he will vote tonight (or would have voted on Wednesday night) at the Select board meeting to call the Special Town Meeting (only requires a majority vote)

12: 35 PM
Andy Churchill, Amherst School Committee chair asks what happened at the Wednesday evening Select board meeting. Weiss says the other two Select persons who voted NO had “made up their minds” prior to the meeting, so there was “no negotiation.”

Churchill I want the entire town to know about “the problem” and to get their input. It would be nice if we had a clear majority of the SB (at least 4).

12:43 PM
Kusner is pushing for the 3% Community Preservation Act tax (that needs Town Meeting approval to get on the April 1’st election) and nobody else seems interested--knowing it will be a suicide bomber for the Override.

12:50 PM
Town Manager: We could also do a public budget forum instead of Special Town Meeting. Weiss: getting sense of Town Meeting is different from informing the public. Churchill: Forum attracts small group of people (insiders). Special Town Meeting gets more attention and shows we’re serious. Molly Turner (Library). Special Town Meeting “looks like a set up for the Override.” Town people have sent the message they cannot afford a tax increase. Churchill: needs to be done now in order to include the potential for an Override on April 1‘st “preserves our options.”

1:05 PM
Brighty: Have BCG run an informational meeting for Town Meeting members (but not an official Special Town Meeting) in late February.

Assistant Town Manager John Musante: Will a Special Town Meeting generate heat or light? If it’s going to confuse people then “why do it?”

1:17 PM

Kusner to Superintendent Hochman: Are you going to be asking the Select board to place an Override on the ballot for the Schools?
School Committee folks answer for him (but not very directly).

Weiss: what do I say to Select board tonight? Town Meeting or forum?

1:24 PM (final one)
Hochman: Do we want to get info out to public? How do we get input in? What’s the Select board’s solution?

No clear call as to whether they will ask the Select board for the Special Town Meeting or not (no wonder the May 1 Override failed). The item is on the Select Board agenda at 9:15 tonight.


O'Reilly said...

Thanks Larry. I appreciate the live blogging/the sunshine.

I'm tired of reading articles in local papers with ridiculous assertions about how the transcript of the meeting doesn't accurately represent what happened, how the budget committee was not strategizing about getting an override, or how the town manager had only good intentions.

Keep it coming!

LarryK4 said...

Thanks O'reilly. Yeah, Nick Grabbe was there so the Gazette will have something tomorrow. But I doubt he will also cover the Select board meeting tonight (especially since the Special Town Meeting discussion is slated for 9:15 pm so you will get another reporter’s take on it and probably too late for tomorrow’s Gazette)

I'll try to make it to the Select Board meeting tonight (for a report tomorrow morning), but my workday started at 5:30 AM. And NO, Principal Jackson did not show up with coffee to discuss ‘The Vagina Monologues.’

PhilJ said...

i, too, appreciate your watchdog ways. there are just too many things to keep an eye on!

how about the block grant idea of opening a new town facility? only in the...