This week at Warrant Committee: Override Planning and Mysterious Fire Dept. Expenses

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Adriana Poole for this write up on this week’s Warrant Committee meeting.

This was a very informative session. When I got there around 7:45 p.m. they were in “executive session”. That means closed doors. They kicked out the only person present, Franklin Tucker from the Patch so I joined him pacing the floors of the Chenery halls.  When the doors opened again, we went in only Frank had to leave after briefly talking to Floyd Carman. Of course, BMC guy went back in too.

  • First issue: Chief Frizzell brought up some pretty bad news – unbudgeted news. Fire dept. ran into health care costs plus overtime, both unforseen (really?) and he has to pay very soon two rather huge bills one for $50K and the other for $75K.  I will not go into details about Chief Frizzell’s breaking news, just mentioned it briefly, you can watch BMC.
  • Second, last on the agenda & most important issue: Allocation between schools and town. Chairwoman, Liz Allison reminded everybody some background info: when WC initially decided the allocation, they all agreed that they will go back and reconsider it later. The split right now stands at 47% for the town and 53% for the schools. She then presented a bunch of her personal arguments against revisiting: 1) revisiting the allocation will be “consuming and divisive”, 2) it will be “desensitizing for the town managers” and 3) something else I didn’t capture in my notes, all I wrote is “compensation and productivity” – I don’t know what that was all about. Then she asked the entire WC to express their opinion on this issue. There were probably 10 + people who spoke and they were ALL in favor of revisiting the allocation issue.  Their reasons:  1) keep their word on what they said they will do and 2) their sense of great importance this issue has. Liz Allison accepted and the meeting ended.

There were two important points relevant to the override are to be noted.

  1. First, the word “override” was used generously.  Secondly, it was discussed that if the allocation will be changed and/or an override is the only solution to make this budget work the only workable arrangement was that the WC will have to finalize this work ON MAY 6.  The last week of April was briefly considered but everybody agreed they could not get it done by then but May 6 was going to work for putting an override on the ballot in June.
  2. The tone and discussion were very much supportive of an override.  If I got this correctly the talk at this point changed from a matter of IF to a matter of HOW big of an override we need. The exact words were ” a clear amount for the override”. I think it’s good news that we don’t have uncertainty now but that we moved into a phase of clarifying the amount.

Next Wednesday night, in the community room at Chenery there will be a WC meeting where they will revisit the allocation. I encourage you all to go. It’s a different experience if you are there than if you watch it on TV. We can’t talk.  But we can listen.  And that might prove even more important for this campaign.