[Editor’s Note: The following post was written based on information I received from the Town Administrator. However, I’ve received contradictory comments from two well informed sources. Al Hamilton and Kathy Cook both believe the override isn’t required to fund the project. Hamilton was a member of the Public Safety Study Committee (its former chair who researched the Town’s ability to fund the project). Cook is a member of the Advisory Committee which conducted its own study of the Town’s ability to pay for the course.]
Last night, voters approved a $27M deal to secure preservation of (most of) St. Mark’s Golf Course and build a public safety building.
Did you think it’s over? Well, it’s not over till it’s over. . . thanks to proposition 2 ½. That was just Step 1.
Step 2 is up to voters in the Annual Town Election.
If you sat through the Special Town Meeting last night until past 11:30 pm, you might have thought your vote solidified the deal to buy St. Mark’s Golf Course and build a public safety facility. Learning that the deal is still on the line may be frustrating.
And if you didn’t attend, maybe you were upset that only 10% of voters made a decision that will effect your tax bill. Learning that you still get to weigh in may be good news.
However you feel about it, you’re not done hearing about the deal. Article 1 as passed included language to put question on the May ballot for voters allowing an override to proposition 2 ½.
The authorization language in the article doesn’t seem contingent on the ballot passing. It authorizes funding not only through loans, but also transfer of funds or “other means”. Still, all presentations on the Town’s ability to fund the project focused on heavy borrowing.
So, I posed a question to Town Administrator Mark Purple about what happens if the May vote fails. His response was that the project can’t happen without it. And prop 2 ½ override requires ⅔ approval from voters.
That’s a much higher hurdle to clear than selectmen had when making their pitch last night.
After all, a lot of people who showed up and stayed for last night’s looong meeting had a deep investment in the outcome.
Residents from the Latisquama Road area were worried about the golf course being developed. And a CR on 93% of the property looked good to many of them.
Plus, strong supporters of our public safety personnel were determined to do something about the dreadful condition of the stations they work in.
Even those who came undecided, sat through presentations from officials and committees explaining the reasons behind decisions and costs and were able to ask questions.
Meanwhile many others who have questioned the costs in conversations with me around Town or through blog comments didn’t show up to vote last night. But it only takes 5-10 minutes to swing by your polling precinct in May. And it doesn’t require a babysitter.
It also doesn’t require a litmus test to verify voters took the time to really look at the facts rather than basing votes on what they’ve heard around town.
I asked Purple about selectmen’s Plan B if it fails. There hasn’t been “formal discussion” of one at this point.
Right now, the Town is focused on Plan A: educating the public to convince them to support the override.
So, expect to hear a lot more from the Town (and the deal’s opponents) on this over the next two months.
The Annual Election with ballot question is scheduled for Tuesday, May 9th.
Update (3/10/17 10:45 am): Comments posted to the story call the facts in question. See Editor’s Note inserted at the top of the post.
Updated (3/10/17 12:32 pm): I mistakenly referred to Al Hamilton as a current member of the PSSC. He resigned a few weeks ago.