Only the Select Board can place an Override on the ballot
Amherst Select Board June 20th
The Amherst Select Board heard a presentation/update from school officials concerning the proposed $65+ million Mega School on Monday night but had very little to say about it.
Interestingly in the packet of material presented to them a timeline which appeared to be chronological showed the Override question being put to the people before Town Meeting.
Click to enlarge/read
Although she not overly convincing.
The way it has worked in the past Town Meeting by a two-thirds vote approves an Override and then it goes to the people, where about half the time they have failed. Only once (March 30, 2004) has an Override -- for the schools naturally -- been presented to the voters prior to Town Meeting approval.
Annual Town Report 2005
While that one was successful a higher amount put on the same ballot (called a "pyramid override") failed.
Only once has the Select Board agreed to place an Override on the ballot after Town Meeting failed to muster a two-thirds vote of support. And that new elementary school Override failed badly.
The advantage of going to "the people" first is the Override question only requires a simple majority vote. With that in hand it should be easy to convince Town Meeting to then support it by the two-thirds needed.
Especially now with Town Meeting possibly being legislated out of existence by a Charter Commission report that could (and hopefully will) come back with a Mayor/Council form of government.
And Town Meeting would probably have a hard time convincing voters they best represent them if they should not uphold an Override vote of "the people."
Especially since that Override will be on the November 8th Presidentail ballot which will see a 75% to 80% turnout in Amherst compared to the 10-15% pathetic turnout we usually get for a municipal election in the Spring.
But if Town Meeting does turn down the Override when they meet in mid-Novermber even if voters approved it by majority vote on November 8th, school supporters would then have 5 business days to collect the signitures of 5% of the registered voters to "referendum" the action of Town Meeting.
Which may not be all that easy since the active voters will be at an all time high (last Presidential election the Town Clerk reports 7,000 new voters signed up prior to the election).
Even then that ballot question would require a two-thirds vote of the people to overturn Town Meeting. Additionally it requires a minimum turnout of 18% of the voters, something that rarely happens with a local election.
As my Chinese friends would say, "May you live in interesting times."