BURLINGTON - Town Meeting is following suit with Town Election as both important events have been rescheduled to dates four days apart from each other in June.
At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting last night, the members unanimously approved a request from the Town Administration to change Town Meeting from May 11 to June 10, due to COVID-19. The new date will still have the same start time (7:30 p.m.) and location (Burlington High School’s Fogelberg Performing Arts Center), but the first session will instead start on Wednesday (June 10) instead of the traditional Monday.
Town Administrator Paul Sagarino explained that the Wednesday, June 10 date reflects the new Saturday, June 6 date for Town Election.
“We wanted to give any potential new Town Meeting members, just elected on that Saturday, at least a couple days to review matters that they will be voting on at Town Meeting that following Wednesday,” Sagarino disclosed, noting that factor played a big role in not scheduling Town Meeting for Monday, June 8.
With May Town Meeting entailing the community’s annual big budgets items, several selectmen inquired about the fiscal year timeline and if the COVID-19 crisis will force any changes to the town’s Operating Budget.
Sagarino confirmed he will be engaging in discussions with Ways & Means soon on what the town should do about the aforementioned financial queries, but he expressed confidence in having a “good budget in place” for Town Meeting, as he doesn’t anticipate any major overhauls to it, unless the COVID-19 impacts worsen the local economy.
“The impact COVID-19 is having on our local economy is not good, but we will continue to monitor the situation and give ourselves the ability to have a plan in case things do not recover as well as we hope,” avowed Sagarino. “Residents and all town departments would benefit knowing where we could make adjustments in the budget, if it is necessary.”
Sagarino pointed out the local meals tax and hotels tax are “getting pounded” right now because of the pandemic causing statewide closures to non-essential businesses, which has resulted in restaurants only able to run their businesses through take-out services. He did note the town’s “conservative budgeting process” provides some “room for error” in case of an emergency, so last-minute reductions and/or guideline revisions can occur under an emergency scenario.
In terms of hitting fiscal year benchmarks, Town Meeting needs to be completed by June 30 (state law), so the budgets can move forward with the start of the new fiscal year.
Selectman Michael Runyan echoed other members’ sentiments regarding much-deserved praise for Town Clerk Amy Warfield, who has helped town officials traverse through the difficult task of rescheduling pivotal events in town impacted by COVID-19.
“I want to thank [Warfield] for helping out with the rescheduling of these events,” he lauded. “Even when it is most difficult, she is always there for us.”
The selectmen unanimously approved a motion to move Town Meeting from Monday, May 11 to Wednesday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Burlington High School’s Fogelberg Performing Arts Center.