LIVERMORE — Selectpersons in a special board meeting Monday, April 5, decided to wait until April 26 to decide the format of the town meeting.

The town has the right to determine whether to have an open town meeting or a referendum vote, Administrative Assistant to the Selectpersons Aaron Miller said. For an open town meeting the warrant needs to be posted seven days prior, he noted.

Under the governor’s current order notice is needed 30 or more days prior to holding a referendum vote, which would be May 8 for a June 8 or 9 vote at the polls, he said. A public hearing needs to be held 10 days prior to town meeting and the warrant needs to be posted seven days before the meeting, he noted.

“The traditional time is 60 or more days,” Miller noted. “I don’t know how long this Executive Order is going to last. She recently, on March 23, opened it up to 75% permitted occupancy for indoor town meetings. That gets us even more than when we last talked about this.”

The town meeting recently has been held at the Spruce Mountain Primary School on Gibbs Mill Road which can seat 450 in the gym. It is typically held the second week in June.

The principal (Kevin Harrington) had explained 84 people is what we could have, but that crept up further with the increase, Miller said. 6-foot social distancing would still need to be maintained, he said.

In open town meetings there have been nowhere near that many people, Selectperson Brett Deyling said.

There were about 100 attending the year of the barnyard ordinance and about 80 for the salt shed, Selectperson Scott Richmond said.

After the votes were counted for the referendum town meeting in August, Town Clerk Renda Guild had said 137 residents voted, 41 by absentee ballot.

“I have no interest in doing another referendum,” Deyling said.

Also speaking against a referendum vote was Selectperson Tracey Martin. There was a lot of displeasure with the referendum, people felt they didn’t have an option, it was a yes or no vote, she said.

There were more voters at the referendum, Selectperson Mark Chretien said.

“I was leaning towards having a town meeting until we had the issues here last week,” Selectperson Benjamin Guild said of the Town Office closure due to possible exposure to COVID-19. “I don’t really want to see the same issues happen with a large gathering.”

There’s two months before town meeting and people will have the opportunity to get vaccinated, Deyling said.

The town has to have some sort of screening, Guild said.

“If we can’t have five or six people in here without there being an exposure issue, I don’t want to see 100 people over there and have somebody get sick,” Guild said. “We’ve had enough bad press in the last year and I don’t want to continue that trend.”

What happens should the town get to the point where the meeting can’t be changed was the concern expressed by Richmond.

“I just don’t want to see the budget done in September again,” he said.

“If we no longer have a state of emergency, have to go back to the original then we’re entirely screwed,” Martin said. If a referendum vote is held, care on how questions are worded is needed, she added.

If an open town meeting was approved, Richmond didn’t see how it could be changed to a referendum vote.

Wait until the next meeting and vote on it then, he suggested. If nothing has changed he would vote for the open town meeting.

“I hope things aren’t going to get worse,” Richmond said.

“The longer we wait, the better,” Deyling agreed.

Prior to the next meeting, Miller was asked to get answers on how screening would work and the legality of turning someone away from town meeting.

Selectpersons were scheduled to meet again April 27. Due to a conflict, the meeting will be held 6:30 p.m., April 26, at the town office complex.

 

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