UPDATE Special Fall Town Meeting
20 Williams Street, Longmeadow, MA 01106
Tel. (413) 565-4110 l Fax (413) 565-4112
For Immediate Release: December 9, 2020
Longmeadow Special Town Meeting Convened and Dissolved
LONGMEADOW (Dec. 9, 2020) – At the Special Town Meeting held at 8:00AM today at the Greenwood Center Parking Lot, 13 voters voted unanimously in favor of a motion, as an emergency measure for the immediate preservation of peace, health, safety or convenience of the town, to take no action on articles 1-23, by consent. This was followed immediately by a motion to dissolve the Special Town Meeting, which also was unanimously approved. The meeting lasted one minute. The Select Board anticipates taking these articles up in the Annual 2021 Town Meeting.
Longmeadow occasionally holds special meetings in the fall; not every town has a fall town meeting; some roll those issues into the annual meeting. The Special Town Meeting was set for Oct. 27. When cases of COVID-19 began to rise in Longmeadow, the Moderator consulted with public health and safety officials, the Select Board, and Town Manager, and issued a Declaration of Recess and Continuance for 30 days (the maximum the law allows) and observed in it that as long as COVID remained an increasing threat, she did not anticipate holding any meetings when they could not be held safely. The Finance Director and Town Manager deemed nothing on the warrant was to be critical. Another Declaration was issued, indicating more were likely to come given the public health crisis.
On November 18, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue informed Longmeadow Select Board/Town Manager’s office that they would not certify our Town’s tax rate while a town meeting with financial articles was pending. The Moderator and Town Manager sought every avenue to address this situation. Ultimately, however, the only viable option open would be to convene and dissolve the Special Town Meeting.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health strongly recommended that select boards and moderators choose to lower quorums if they must have a town meeting. Concerned that the quorum for our meetings is 50, and concerned that voters had every reasonable expectation, given the previous declarations, that the town would not be gathering people together to deliberate and vote on these issues, the Moderator worked with the Town Manager and Select Board to reach a compromise proposal to reduce the quorum for this meeting and “take no action” on all articles. The Finance Committee unanimously approved this approach. The Planning Board unanimously voted to continue their hearing on zoning articles, meaning no motions to take action on those articles would be legal.
The Moderator adds that “The legislative branch and the executive branch of our local government cooperated to solve a technical problem in a way that did not endanger citizens and preserved their rights to deliberate and vote when it is safer to do so. I am grateful that citizens understood the challenges we faced and did what was necessary to preserve public health. The trust demonstrated in the efforts today is heartening. It’s a challenging time, and I am grateful to our town for rising to this challenge. Please, continue to stay safe, and have a peaceful holiday season.”
Town residents should continue with physical distancing and mask-wearing. Officials will begin planning for the 2021 Annual Town Meeting (to be set for late spring) in January. Longmeadow voters who have questions about town meeting may contact the Moderator at email@example.com.
The Fall Special Town Meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. The warrant has closed and a copy is available here. There are 23 warrant articles including 2 citizen petitions. The Fall Special Town Meeting will be held at Longmeadow High School and begins at 7PM. A mask will be required to attend and socially distanced seating will be provided. For a full listing of all rules of procedure for this meeting please click here.
Annual Town Meeting was held Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 6:00 PM
*A consent agenda is a grouping of articles together under one motion in order to save time in a meeting. When a motion to approve several articles as a consent agenda is made and seconded, the Moderator will call out the article numbers in the proposal. Any voter who wants to consider an article separately will call out “hold,” and the Moderator will remove that article from the consent agenda. Voting will proceed for the motion to approve (or reject) all the articles in the group.
Recommendations & Presentations at Town Meeting
Finance Committee -
- The Finance Committee voted to approve all of the Articles that were previously listed as "Recommendation to be given on the floor of Town Meeting"
- The Finance Committee voted to Recommend Article 14.
- The Finance Committee voted to recommend the budget Article 13, with the explicit understanding that the budget figure would immediately be Amended on the Floor by the Select Board after its reading. Finance Committee’s recommendation on the budget Article 13 will be made after the Amendment is made.
- Finance Committee voted not to recommend Article 30, dealing with CPC funding for a study for a skate park.
"The Finance Committee does not recommend Article 30.
The Finance Committee voted against recommending this article for a number of reasons. First, this expenditure represented the first step in installing a new facility, the expense of which would far exceed the price of the study itself. Second, this would be a brand new facility which would incur a brand new maintenance obligation and ongoing maintenance expenses, rather than the repair or improvement of an existing facility. Finally, the feeling of the majority of members was that unlike the team sport facilities in town, this proposed skate park would represent a niche interest, serving a relatively small number of patrons, too small to justify the expense of installing the facility."
Budget Presentation by Town Manager
Article 36 & 37 related to bylaw changes for the installation of ground-mount solar panels on the side or front of a home. Supporting documentation
Moderator’s Task Force on Electronic Voting
* To investigate the feasibility, security, costs, and outcomes of electronic voting technology and processes.
* report available to the public
* The task force will be appointed by mid-March, starting work by the end of March, with a report due by the end of 2021.
Electronic voting is the use of hand-held electronic devices for the purpose of recording a vote in a large gathering. Several towns use this in their town meetings. Some use it to speed up the counts for those votes that require a hand count. Some use it to move from public to private voting.
The task force will be chaired by the Rules Committee Chair and will include the Town Clerk, one other member of the Rules Committee that has studied this issue until now, and 2 or 3 other residents.
I invite residents who are interested in serving on this task force to submit their letter of interest that includes qualifications and any possible conflicts of interest to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 13. Qualifications may include a background in software development or large group facilitation, with a curiosity about understanding both social and technological aspects of electronic voting.
Thank you for reading this information. Anyone with questions about the meeting is welcome to contact Moderator Rebecca Townsend at email@example.com. Our work may be physically distant, but it’s inherently social. Our community has faced great trials before, and we shall similarly face this one with as much wisdom about what will permit safety for our democratic traditions to continue.
MODERATOR SEEKS APPLICATIONS FOR RULES COMMITTEE
Applications to volunteer for the Longmeadow Rules Committee will be accepted until July 31, 2020. The Rules Committee was established by the town Charter to advise the Moderator on issues of procedures related to Town Meeting. The committee consists of five members in staggered three-year terms. There is one vacancy for a 3-year term ending in 2023 and a vacancy for a term that ends in 2022. Longmeadow voters who have an interest in serving may complete an application, available via the town website here.