STM 2013 Meeting Results

Waiting for Bedford's 2013 Special Town Meeting to begin
Waiting for Bedford’s 2013 Special Town Meeting to begin

Bedford’s 2013 Special Town Meeting was completed in a single session, with the following votes:

Article 1 Debate Rules–unanimously adopted
Article 2 Amend Authorization for Easement Acceptance–unanimously adopted
Article 3 Sign Bylaw Miscellaneous–unanimously adopted
Article 4 Sign Bylaw Reverse Channel Signs–unanimously adopted
Article 5 Sign Bylaw Residential Zones–unanimously adopted
Article 6 Sign Bylaw Special Considerations–adopted
Article 7 Sign Bylaw Movable Freestanding signs–adopted
Article 8 Sign Bylaw Illumination–adopted
Article 9 Bedford Depot Building Historic Preservation Restriction–unanimously adopted
Article 10 Rescind Prior Bond Authority–unanimously adopted
Article 11 Community Preservation 3% Surcharge–adopted
Article 12 Community Preservation Budget– adopted
Article 12 Community Preservation Budget line items held for individual consideration

  • 11: Affordable Housing Reserves adjustment-adopted unanimously
  • 12:  Budget Reserves–adopted unanimously
  • 13:  Bicycle Master Plan –adopted
  • 14:  Bedford Housing Authority (BHA) Ashby Place window replacement– adopted unanimously
  • 15: BHA Life Management Collaborative—adopted by a vote of 76 Yea/65 Nay
  • 16: Fawn Lake study–adopted

Article 13 Town Hall Building Systems–unanimous for indefinite postponement
Article 14 Street Light Maintenance Contract Extension–adopted unanimously
Article 15 Amend FY14 Operating Budgets–adopted unanimously
Article 16 Bedford Police Officers Association Collective Bargaining-adopted unanimously
Article 17 Appropriate Funds for AFSCME, AFL-CIO Town Employees–adopted unanimously
Article 18 Stabilization Fund Appropriation–adopted unanimously


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Kris Washington
Kris Washington
8 years ago

Last night’s Town Meeting was, for this resident, a lesson in democracy. According to the Bedfordma.gov town website (https://www.bedfordma.gov/about-bedford), Bedford’s Open Town Meeting has been in practice since 1729… 284 years. Ours is perhaps the most direct form of democracy in America. In fact, Town Meeting is only practiced in a small number of primarily New England states, and within these states, only some towns have an Open Town Meeting structure (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_meeting). Unlike other forms of town and city governance in which elected officials vote on behalf of constituents, in Open Town Meeting each registered Bedford voter is entitled to speak about, and vote upon any article in the Town Meeting’s warrant. Several residents took the opportunity to express their views and advocated for a number of warrant articles. And no matter one’s position on the articles, witnessing neighbors eloquently participating in this most democratic process was, at least to me, heartening.

This said, this Town Meeting newbie was very surprised by the startlingly low turnout. According to the one hand-counted vote (on Article 15) all attendees including members of the Selectmen and Finance Committee numbered a precious 141 souls. Based on the Town’s census of 9,823 registered voters, this means that approximately 1.4% of Bedford residents who could attend Town Meeting and vote chose to do so.

Interestingly, Article 15, which allocates $85,000 for a Life Management program for some residents of affordable housing, was the only article recommended down by both the Selectmen and Finance Committees. Yet Article 15 passed after a close vote. I have to wonder if the outcome of this vote, and perhaps others, would have been the same had more eligible voters turned out. What I find fascinating about our special form of local government is that any individual residents has the ability to speak on an issue and immediately change the outcome of a vote by either garnering support or creating opposition. The most crucial ingredient for making this immediate change, however, is an audience large and diverse enough to be persuaded.

Charlie
Charlie
8 years ago

Wow, 76 Yea and 65 Nay votes for the BHA Life Management Collaborative. The conservatives in this town better wake up and get involved in town government. If not, the liberals will continue to try to save the world with your money. Do you really want your taxes going to a program that is attempting to help only 15 people? What’s next?

daviss
daviss
8 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Hey at least they postponed the Town Hall Issue.

Ron Green
Ron Green
8 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Perhaps it is only worthwhile if it is a child or brother of a conservative. Helping others is what creates a civilized society. Peace — Ron Green

Charlie
Charlie
8 years ago
Reply to  Ron Green

Ron, unless people learn to help themselves, there will always be folks with their hands out. If we continue on the path we are on, there will be more people taking government assistance than actual taxpayers. How do you consider that a “civilized society”? By funding programs like the BHA Life Managment Collaborative, we are fostering more and more dependence upon town, state, and federal government.
This program could easily have been managed by volunteers rather than a town government. But I suppose it is easier to take money out of your neighbor’s pocket than it is to give your own time to help people in need. I believe in helping others as much as the next person, but involving the town to set up a program to help 15 people is ludicrous. Governments overspend on pretty much everything ($60K+ for wiring the Selectmen for TV?) and are extremely inefficient entities. If you managed your life like the government runs things, you would be bankrupt.

Stan Gedaminsky
Stan Gedaminsky
8 years ago
Reply to  Ron Green

Oh I’m sure the money will end up in liberal pockets! The money is being spent on the social worker educating the hand selected recipient , who I’m sure is a democrat as well. I wonder if the non profit that receives this money is directly connected to the Bedford Housing managers and committe members who pushed for this program. If this is the case then it should be disclosed to avoid any conflict of intrest or state ethics law violations.
I think the money would have been better spent on finding out why our drinking water is always failing state requirements .

Charlie
Charlie
8 years ago

It’s really just about doing the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people with the limited resources we have. A government cannot possibly help every individual who needs assistance. That is what volunteer organizations do.

EJC
EJC
8 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

10% of the CPA tax money has to go toward affordable housing initiatives (10% affordable housing/10% open space/10% historic preservation/70% anything qualified). This program is a 2 year pilot intended to get the Bedford Housing Authority (BHA) more efficient and help Bedford do their fair share with their existing BHA 100 units, vs. using hotels or other ways to solve housing problems. It also is paid back when housing authority residents increase their income (BHA takes 30% in rent). The state puts pressure on all towns to do their fair share and this program puts Bedford in more control.

Charlie
Charlie
8 years ago
Reply to  EJC

EJC, regretfully, I understand that the CPA has an affordable housing component. I would be fully on board with the CPA if it wasn’t for this. I want my tax money to benefit the many, not just the few. Beford already does far more than it’s fair share with regard to affordable housing. We cannot continue to offer the multitude of services we do without raising taxes. You may not mind paying the higher taxes that are associated with these governmental programs, but many of us do.

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