Annual Town Meeting 2020, Part II ~ The Warrant

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The Annual Town Meeting warrant was mailed to all houses in March 2020.  If you cannot locate yours, you can see/download a copy on the Town Meeting website at https://www.bedfordma.gov/town-meeting

The original warrant contains 38 articles. At a typical Spring Town Meeting, it would take about 6 to 8 hours of meeting to act on all 38 articles. The goal of the Town Meeting on July 11 is to assure the process is as safe and efficient as possible while ensuring that the democratic and legislative functions of Town Meeting remain intact.

The Select Board is recommending a streamlined version of the original warrant in order to focus on the financial needs of Town Government and to address other business at a future meeting.  Here is a summary of the changes you will address at the meeting.

Article 1

There will be no reports from Committees under Article 1.
All motions, warrants, supporting information, video presentations by Finance Committee and Select Board, and other presentations will be posted online at https://www.bedfordma.gov/town-meeting in early July. You can also find FAQs, and copies of this information.  All voters are encouraged to review the online materials in order to be prepared to vote.  You can download it to your own tablet, computer, or phone.  A printed copy of all motions will be available at Check-in on July 11th.

Article 2

Article 2 is the Debate Rules article.  There are a few changes being proposed to this article.

A. The main motions having been submitted in advance, and presentations having been made available for viewing before the meeting, the main motions will be read by the Moderator and there will be no presentation. You will have access to all motions and presentations online before the meeting (see the link above). These can be downloaded onto your device and paper copies of the motions will be available at the Check-in desks.
B. No Amendment will be accepted unless it is submitted in writing. A speaker presenting an amendment to an article shall be limited to three (3) minutes.  If you are considering an amendment to any article it helpful to let the Moderator know in advance.  You can contact me at TownModerator@bedfordma.gov I cannot give you advice on the content of your amendment but I can check to make sure the format is acceptable.
C. Other speakers asking questions or speaking on any article will be limited to two (2) minutes.  This is abbreviated from prior town meetings.  The 2-minute time frame has been chosen based on observation of the length of time speakers at Bedford’s meetings usually take, as well as the average of time limits that other towns with open town meetings use.
D.  The requirement that each article be acted upon separately shall be suspended, and a motion to indefinitely postpone a group of articles may be accepted and acted upon.
This rule has been added so that the voters will be able to vote – in one vote instead of twenty-eight votes – on the entire list of articles that are being recommended for indefinite postponement.

Financial Articles to be Indefinitely Postponed

The Select Board has chosen to focus on the financial articles that will keep the Town running.  They have voted to recommend indefinite postponement of the following articles:

Article 4, Bills of Prior Years
Article 5, General Bylaw Amendment–Revolving Fund

Articles 8 to 22,  General Bylaw Amendments and Zoning Bylaw Amendment Accessory Dwelling Units

Articles 24 to 26, Bond Authorizations that include renovation at the Police Department, Land Acquisition for the Fire Station, and HVAC Improvements for the Bedford Free Public Library

Article 29, Supplemental Operating Budget for FY 2020 and Articles of the 2019 Annual Town Meeting

Article 30,
Salary Administration Plan Bylaw Amendment-Classification & Wage Schedule
Article 33,
Salary Plan–Additional Funding
Article 34,
OPEB Appropriation
Article 35,
Supplement Accrued Leave Fund
Article 36,
300th Anniversary Stabilization Fund
Article 37,
Stabilization Fund Appropriation

Articles to be Considered Individually

The remaining articles will be considered individually:

Article 3, Consent Article
Article 6, Revolving Funds Expenditure Limits
Article 7, Community Preservation Budget–Fiscal Year 2021*
(*except for lines 10 to 14. These have been removed for this ATM)
Article 23, Proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Capital Projects Plan
Article 27, Demand Fee Increase
Article 28, PEG Access and Cable Expense Related Budget Fiscal Year 2021
Article 31, Operating Budgets–Fiscal Year 2021 ~ Budget reduced; website to be updated by June 29.)
Article 32, Ambulance Enterprise Budget, Fiscal Year 2021
Article 38, Free Cash

The Moderator will read each motion, ask for a second, and then announce the recommendations of the Select Board and Finance Committee. There will be no in-person presentations on any of the motions. Check the Town’s website, https://www.bedfordma.gov/town-meeting, after July 1 for up-to-date information, warrants, presentations, and background materials.

The Select Board and Finance Committee will respond to all questions by voters. Once the motion has been seconded, voters will be able to ask questions and make comments.
When the meeting is ready for a vote, it will be done by a call for all those in favor to raise their voting card. Then all those voters opposed will be asked to raise their voting cards. The result will be announced as either passes or fails.  If there is a question of the result, the tellers will take a hand count.

Open Town Meeting and Democracy

The foundation of Town Meeting is the voters’ right to speak and the right to self-govern. That remains the guiding principle of this Town Meeting as well, just on softer ground and with more fresh air.

I hope to see you on July 11.  If you have comments or questions you can contact me at TownModerator@bedfordma.gov

 


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