BUCKFIELD — Selectmen directed Town Manager Cindy Dunn to send out a survey to taxpayers regarding close- and open-ended warrant articles and a date preference for the town meeting after some in town opposed the move to close-ended warrant articles earlier this year.

Recently elected Selectman Maida Demers-Dobson brought up the issue at Tuesday night’s meeting. Before the June 13 town meeting, former Selectmen Chairwoman Martha Catevenis and Selectman Scott Violette voted to make the warrant articles close-ended, which meant that the monetary amounts could only be lowered and not increased at the town meeting. Selectman Cheryl Coffman voted against the move.

While Demers-Dobson was out campaigning, she said the consensus of the people she spoke with is that Buckfield is a fiscally conservative town that does a lot of hand-wringing over its finances.

“There was a lot of concern, frustration and anger that a process that had worked really well for Buckfield had been amended,” she said. “They like having that option and were offended that it was abridged at a recent meeting without any kind of community input.”

Violette said he stood by his earlier concern, noting only 40 people showed up to this year’s town meeting.

“I still feel this helps protect the majority of people who are not able to be present at the town meeting,” he said.

“My concern, Scott, is two people made that decision,” Demers-Dobson responded.

Dunn suggested revisiting sending out a survey on the matter, which was discussed at a previous meeting, along with what time and days work best for the town meeting.

“We had a unilateral change by two people but now we have to survey them,” Demers-Dobson said.

“To get the best feedback, maybe the survey is the way to go,” Dunn said.

Coffman wanted to know how many times in the past 15 years voters at the town meeting opted to increase spending. The few years where nothing was recommended for social services, money was added, Dunn answered. There was another time when voters decided to appropriate $100,000 more for summer roads, which wasn’t recommended by the selectboard or Budget Committee, but that’s all she could recall.

“I think Cindy has a point by asking people,” resident Judy Berg said. “You might also have a public hearing; since 2005, our mill rate has been going up consistently except for last year. I think people are concerned about the high tax rate.”

Resident Michelle Casey said town officials might be surprised by the results of the survey.

“There are quite a few of us that are in support of that decision by the former selectman and Scott,” she said.

Dunn said the survey would be mailed out with the tax bills, which are sent in October, and a draft survey would be in the hands of selectmen by their September meeting. Coffman confirmed with Dunn that the board would be able to act on the issue before the next warrant is created. Selectmen then unanimously voted to send out surveys with tax bills.

In other selectmen news, Coffman was elected as chairman, who will serve in that capacity until the end of the fiscal year, ending June 30, 2016. Violette was elected vice chairman for the same period.

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