Town Meeting may take place on May 16th

Above: A new potential date has been announced for Annual Town Meeting.

Annual Town Meeting had been rescheduled to open tomorrow evening. Today the date of its second postponement was announced: Saturday, May 16 at 1:00 pm.

Of course, there has been a lot of speculation that the Governor will extend his prohibition of large gatherings beyond May 1st. Moderator Paul Cimino acknowledged that the date may have to be moved if new orders are issued. 

The message also allowed the possibility that the meeting may take place. If so, it will be held at the Trottier Middle School. A section of Cimino’s message is dedicated to the necessity of an indoor meeting and how it will be handled to reduce health risks.

Normally, leading up to ATM, Article proponents hold public information sessions with Q&As. The moderator’s message to readers last week explained that he hopes that voters will support streamlining the meeting to focus only on essential Articles. He’ll clearly be looking for sponsors of more complicated Articles to postpone their initiatives to the Special Town Meeting planned for fall.

Here is the full message: 

To All Southborough Voters:

As some of you may know, in the past several weeks the Massachusetts General Court (the State legislature) has enacted new provisions to accommodate the scheduling of our 2020 Annual Town Meeting (ATM) based on the current Emergency Declaration announced by the Baker administration, which prohibits the gathering of large groups. At present, the Emergency Declaration is in effect until May 4, although we should expect that it will be extended again for some further amount of time. Therefore, it is necessary to postpone the current ATM date of April 16.

To help your understanding of the process behind the rescheduling of ATM, here are the rescheduling parameters required by the recent State legislation:

  • For so long as the Massachusetts Emergency Declaration remains in effect, the Moderator may only reschedule ATM to a maximum of 30 days into the future from the currently-scheduled date, following consultation with the Selectmen and Public Health/Safety officials.
  • Each time the new ATM date approaches with no change in the public health/safety situation, the new ATM date may be rescheduled again, but no more than 30 additional days out.
  • This stepwise process continues until the Massachusetts Emergency Declaration is cancelled, at which time ATM must be held within 30 days of that cancellation date (and note that if the Emergency Declaration continues over into June for any reason, ATM may be held some time after June 30, which is not normally allowed, but which the new legislation permits).

After consulting with the required folks, today I am announcing that ATM has been rescheduled for 1:00pm on Saturday, May 16 at the Trottier Middle School. If the current Massachusetts Emergency Declaration is extended past May 4 as expected, I will revisit this new ATM date if necessary.

A quick word about the location for ATM this year. Unlike in the past, social distancing considerations dictate that we must make use of multiple locations within the Trottier building, including the cafeteria and gymnasium in addition to the auditorium. This includes isolating access into and egress out of these spaces for purposes of registering attendees, etc. Additionally, it goes without saying that ATM in general must accommodate significant considerations of technology (presentations, public address system, video feed, etc.) and logistics (counting votes, security, parking, restrooms, etc.). I mention all this because I have received thoughtful and sincere suggestions that this year’s ATM be conducted outside, and indeed this possibility was thoroughly vetted. In the end, the multiple technology and logistical requirements noted above, plus the uncertainty of bad weather, meant that an outdoor meeting lasting several hours was not a workable scenario. That being the case, you can rest assured that our Town Clerk, Director of Facilities, and IT Manager are all already preparing to conduct a safe and efficient ATM at the Trottier location.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach me at ‘moderator@southboroughma.com’ with any questions or concerns. I thank you for your interest and participation in the governance of our Town, and I look forward to our upcoming ATM with special anticipation, because it will mean that we are past the worst of the current difficult times.

Best regards,
Paul Cimino
Town Moderator

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