Special Town Manager E-newsletter: 2020 Annual Town Meeting
The 2020 Annual Town Meeting (“ATM”) has been rescheduled from April 4th to Thursday, June 25, 2020, at 5:00 pm at the Mary P. Walker Auditorium at Nantucket High School. Voters should be receiving their warrant with Finance Committee and Planning Board Motions this week. The warrant will have the date April 4th on it because the warrant had already been printed when the COVID19 pandemic took over. Several articles will have Revised Motions which are posted on-line and will be addressed at the beginning of the ATM. Voters should also be receiving a Letter to Voters from the Town Manager as to the changes that are in store for the 2020 ATM.
We are joining many towns throughout the Commonwealth that are holding their annual town meetings this spring, with changes in place to keep voters safe. We have heard several suggestions like “have town meeting outside” or “hold a Zoom meeting”. Regarding having town meeting outside – we had a lot of discussion about this and determined that there are too many logistical issues that would make this very difficult, including weather, challenges with outdoor set-up for the technology, and the ground surface with respect to accessibility issues. Zoom meetings are permissible for towns with Representative Town Meeting; however, Nantucket has an Open Town Meeting form of government and an on-line venue is not allowed by law.
To review the plan for the 2020 ATM and answer as many questions as possible ahead of time, we have:
- Scheduled two Pre-Town Meeting Forums with Q&A (via Zoom) – the first was held on June 9th, the second is scheduled for Thursday, June 18 at 5:00 pm. Both were recorded (videos below);
- Issued the aforementioned Letter to Voters;
- Submitted a Letter to the Editor for the June 18th newspaper;
- Recorded a segment on the “Nantucket Pulse” program on NCTV;
- The Moderator held an interview on the radio (97.7);
- Reviewed the plan several times at weekly Select Board meetings;
- Sent an email to all of the citizen petitioners regarding how their articles will be handled. A list of articles that have been called through the Moderator already can be found HERE.
Several of the Questions on the June 16th Annual Town Election Ballot are subject to ATM warrant articles. The Select Board has committed to seeking “Move to Postpone” motions on all of these, due to current uncertainty with the impact that COVID19 may have on the local economy; and, to avoid discussing potentially controversial articles that could prolong the length of time voters are in an enclosed space together. So, regardless of the outcome of the ballot questions, the associated warrant articles are not intended to be acted on at the June 25 ATM. We will be discussing potential dates for the next town meeting during July.
2020 ATM Frequently Asked Questions
I have a citizen petition on the warrant, will I be able to speak to it?
The plan for town meeting is to keep all of us together for the least amount of time possible. With regard to all of the warrant articles, there will be the usual “call” at the beginning and any articles not called will be voted on in accordance with their Motions. If you are not agreement with the Motion for your article, you should call it and there will be a Motion to Postpone put forward by the Select Board. You may also email the Moderator to “call” your article if you will not be attending Town Meeting (sfa@ sfapc.com). The idea is to put Postponed articles on the warrant for the next town meeting.
Do I have to wear a face covering during Town Meeting?
You should, yes. To protect yourself, and others.
Will the seating be set up differently?
Yes, the seats will be set up to maintain social distancing and there will be seats in the NHS Auditorium as well as the Gym. Seating will be assigned.
I heard something about electronic voting for Town Meeting – does that mean we can vote from home?
No. Mass General Law does not allow for voting from home. The electronic voting for the 2020 Town Meeting means that each voter will be given a sanitized handheld device at check-in. This device will allow you to vote “yes” or “no” on each called article. It will eliminate the need for hand counts and if we need to use the NHS gym in addition to the Auditorium, it will greatly facilitate counting the votes.
Is the Town reducing its budget for the next fiscal year?
Yes. We have prepared a budget that involves less revenue coming in from local receipts such as room occupancy tax, and meals tax. As a result, expenditures have been reduced as well. There are several articles that will have Revised Motions (as noted above) which are in response to these budget changes.
Further questions may be addressed to: TownManager@nantucket-ma.gov
Thank you for reading the Town of Nantucket Monthly e-News. We hope you enjoyed it!
Town of Nantucket - 16 Broad Street Nantucket, MA 02554
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