Your Annual Town Meeting questions...answered!
- You can review the 2020 Annual Town Meeting warrant here, as unanimously approved by the Selectmen on April 27, 2020.
- Please also see the Finance Committee's aproved Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Summary, as unanimously approved on 5/15/2020.
Please send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any and all questions regarding:
- The 2020 Annual Town Meeting warrant,
- The proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget,
- And... for that matter, any questions you may have... If we don't know, we'll try to get you in the right direction...!
- We will post the Town Meeting and budget Q's & A's below....(names of those sending questions will not be disclosed)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR:
Pre-Town Meeting information session
Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 7:00 PM via Zoom Meeting - log-in one of three ways:
iPhone One-Tap: US: +13017158592,,94516703949# or +13126266799,,94516703949#
or Telephone: (301) 715-8592 and enter Webinar ID#: 945 1670 3949
2020 Annual Town Meeting
Monday, June 22, 2020 - 7:30 PM at Berlin Memorial School, 34 South Street, Berlin, MA
2020 Annual Town Election
Monday, June 29, 2020 - 12:00 Noon till 4:00 PM at Berlin Town Offices, 23 Linden Street, Berlin, MA (Lower Level)
QUESTION: I thought the Annual Town Meeting had to take place annually on the first Monday in May. Why is the 2020 Berlin Annual Town Meeting instead taking place on Monday, June 22, 2020?
ANSWER: This year, in light of the pandemic, special legislation has been enacted that permits municipalities to move the date of Annual Town Meetings in an effort to maintain social distancing to contain the spread of the coronavirus. On April 3, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the following legislation into law: Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020 - Act to Address Challenged Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19. This legislation enables communities to delay the scheduling of Annual Town Meeting which is when the budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021) is placed before Berlin voters, as well as other legal matters that require the Town's legislature (YOU!) to vote.
QUESTION: What IS Annual Town Meeting? Can I go? Why should I go?
ANSWER: Annual Town Meeting is how the Town legislature (Berlin's registered voters...YOU!) decides Town spending priorities, zoning, and other bylaws, among other things. If you are a registered voter in Berlin, you are welcome and encouraged to attend, be heard and vote. You have a direct seat at the table in Berlin Town government (something not enjoyed in every Town or City, or in State and Federal government). The Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office has a very useful introductory clearinghouse on the ins-and-outs of Town Meeting here.
QUESTION: Is there a minimum number of voters who have to be present in order for Annual Town Meeting to convene in the Town of Berlin?
ANSWER: No. Whereas some towns do have such a minimum "quorum" or number of registered voters who must be present to conduct business according to local bylaw, that is not the case here in Berlin. If only one voter attends, the meeting may proceed.
Since Berlin has fewer than 6,000 residents, under state law: Berlin and like-sized smaller communities must have an "open town meeting" form of government, meaning all registered Berlin voters are qualified to participapte. (This is not always the case in larger towns, which may opt for "representative" forms of town meeting.)
QUESTION: Where can I review the Town By-Laws with regard to Town Meeting?
ANSWER: See Article II of the General Town By-Laws online here, as located on the Town Clerk's webpage. That particuar Article II is titled "Town Meetings, the Warrants and the Town Reports".
QUESTION: What does it mean when there' reference to the Town Report(s)? Where do you find them? Where is my copy?
ANSWER: The 2019 Annual Town Report, once finalized, resides on the Selectmen's webpage under "Annual Town Reports". The 2019 Annual Town Report book will also be mailed to each registered voter household before Annual Town Meeting.
Each year, the Annual Town Report provides:
- a department-by-department recap of the prior calendar year activites,
- lists current Town officers and contact information,
- provides the proposed budget for the coming Fiscal Year 2021, and
- includes the Annual Town Meeting warrant.
Keep this book handy, and take it with you Annual Town Meeting, as it contains much information you may wish to refer to during Town Meeting.
QUESTION: Why does the Annual Town Meeting warrant say that the Highway department is "sponsoring" Article 18, item #5? We have a brand new Highway Barn. Do we need a new parking lot at the new Highway Barn on West Street?
ANSWER: No. The Highway/Facilities Superintendent is “sponsoring” the capital article for a facilities protect: parking lot reconstruction at the Town Offices at 23 Linden Street (a long-deferred capital project). This article has also been recommended for Fiscal Year 2021 by the Capital Planning Committee. A total rebuild has been requested, including the elimination of traffic islands for ease of parking, driving and sanding/plowing, repair of sub-grading to eliminate sink holes and uneven drainage.
KEEP YOUR QUESTIONS FLOWING to email@example.com or mail them to:Pre-ATM Q&ASelectmen's Office 23 Linden StreetBerlin, MA 01503