Daily Buzz | How can Town Meeting be Improved?
With special thanks to shadow notetakers 😊
It’s been a busy few days, so I’m handing reporting over to Myrna Saltman, who sent me a wealth of information after the Rules Committee meeting on Monday.
This meeting was to reflect on May Town Meeting, so there are a few TM details I’ll share here, too.
You can learn all about Town Meeting at my profile here, if you’re not sure yet who TM is or what it does. A quick summary is that it’s a 126-member representative group that makes up the legislative branch of our government, approving new and amended bylaws as well as departmental budgets.
Town Meeting is run by the Town Moderator, and it is that person’s job to set the rules for TM. Town meeting works from a Warrant, which is a list and description of all the proposals that are to be voted on; this Warrant is approved by the Select Board.
You might know that the May Town Meeting is the annual one, where the budgets are all approved, and it takes quite a long time. This year it was 4 3.5-hour sessions, and last year it was either 3 or 4. It was also conducted in hybrid format this year.
Rules Committee Meeting Notes
So, the Rules Committee met to discuss how it went and what could be improved for the future. This discussion dovetails a little with the Hybrid Town Meeting Subcommittee meeting I summarize here, though it seems there hasn’t been communication between the two committees (and I would think there should be).
Okay, enough editorial. Here are Myrna’s notes.
Town Meeting in Hybrid format costs about $5k per night, and part of the reason is that we don’t own the equipment. We could buy it for $7-15K plus an annual maintenance fee, and would also need a dedicated producer.
Hybrid specific concerns: Not seeing people’s faces; lots of tech issues on certain nights (though notably not others)
Non-hybrid-specific concerns: Late ending times; lag times between tallying of votes
Suggestions: The Town Moderator had originally approved an earlier start time (7:00 instead of 7:30), but that didn’t end up happening due to the amount of time it took to set up and break down everything - especially since the stage at the High School is used for a bunch of other things that also had to be broken down and set up again. One suggestion was made to not introduce any new articles before 10:30 unless the body is nearing the end of the warrant, to avoid such late ending times.
Moderator Bill Beyer wasn’t able to make it, but was invited to the next meeting to share some ideas he has for improving Town Meeting.
Today in Burlington
9:00 AM - Housing Authority meets for their regular meeting, including revisiting the pet policy.
7:00 PM - Conservation Commission meets for many public hearings; 5 of them are to construct new residential dwellings or additions. Some are to remove trees and make other changes to property. At the end, they’ll discuss the progress that’s been made on the stormwater management bylaw. (Join via Webex)
7:00 PM - Library Trustees has its regular meeting with all the familiar agenda items. Their agendas aren’t ever too detailed, so there’s not much to discuss with them.
Alright, that’s it for me. It’s almost Friday, neighbors!