Sudbury’s 2016 Annual Town Meeting will commence on Monday, May 2nd at 7:30 p.m. at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School Auditorium, and continue on successive evenings until all business set forth in the Warrant is concluded. This year will be slightly unusual in that a Special Town Meeting will be convened during the Annual Town Meeting to address additional matters that arose after the initial Warrant had closed. The Special Town Meeting Articles include proposed funding of due diligence for a conservation restriction at the Wayside Inn, litigation funding for the Eversource project, and outside counsel review of the proposed Sudbury Station development. The Special Town Meeting will begin on Tuesday, May 3, and the continuation of the Annual Town Meeting will commence immediately after the Special Town Meeting concludes, hopefully on the same night.
The items of business, or Articles, to be addressed at both the Annual and Special Town Meetings are detailed in the Warrant 2016 which has been mailed to all residents. You can also review the Warrant on the Town’s website. Please read the Warrant prior to the Annual and Special Town Meetings to gain a full and informed understanding of the matters to be discussed and voted upon. The Articles impact the services that you will receive, the taxes that you will pay, and the direction the Town will take on a variety of important matters in Fiscal Year 2017 and beyond.
Those who attend Town Meeting for the first time may find the process unfamiliar and confusing. Please review the “Summary of Basic Town Meeting Procedures” that appears at pages ii-vi of the Town Warrant for an introduction. The League of Women Voters has also prepared an excellent brochure that describes Town meeting practices, and the Massachusetts Moderator’s Association has produced DVD’s entitled “Town Meeting and You” and “Voice of the People – The Representative Town Meeting,” both of which are available at the Goodnow Library.
I will also summarize procedures at the beginning of the Annual Town Meeting, and will make every effort to explain applicable rules during the meetings. For those who are interested, the rules of Town Meeting are governed by Massachusetts General Laws c. 39, Articles I and II of Sudbury’s By-law, and the Third Edition of “Town Meeting Time – A Handbook of Parliamentary Law” by Richard Johnson, et al. (2001).
As Moderator, it is my job to ensure that debate on all of the Articles proceeds fairly and efficiently. If you wish to speak at Town Meeting, please raise your hand. After you are recognized, one of the Boy Scout runners will pass a microphone to you at your seat. You may also proceed to one of the standing microphones if it is nearby after you are recognized. Robust debate is appropriate and anticipated, but all speakers should be cognizant of the fact that our time together is precious and limited, and I will gently remind speakers of their responsibility to be succinct.
The Articles on the Consent Calendar are considered by some to be non-controversial, and are bundled together for voting purposes in an effort to save time if possible. The Consent Calendar will be taken up as the first order of substantive business on the first night. It is, therefore, critical that everyone become familiar with the Consent Articles prior to the beginning of Town Meeting. Study the Warrant and if you have any substantive questions, please call the Selectmen’s office (978-639-3382), or any member of the board or committee sponsoring the Article. Hopefully, voters will remove Articles from the Consent Calendar for debate only in cases of considered and genuine concern. Every effort will be made to provide satisfactory answers to your questions to avoid the need to remove items from the Consent Calendar. A listing of the Consent Calendar Articles and the applicable voting procedure also appears at the beginning of the Warrant.
Sudbury’s Annual Town Meeting is a celebration of our history and traditions, and one of the longest running open town meetings in the country. It is also our annual legislative process, and truly unique in that no funds are expended or changes enacted to the character of the Town without the consent of the voters. I urge all participants to undertake these responsibilities solemnly, and to respect the views and time of our fellow citizens. I look forward to seeing everyone at the High School on Monday, May 2.
Michael C. Fee