LIVERMORE — Selectpersons again discussed the town meeting format on July 6.

“The Citizens’ Initiative petition to change open town meeting to purely referendum style voting is purely advisory according to the Maine Municipal Association attorney,” Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller said. “It’s the Selectboard’s decision to decide whether they want open town meeting or referendum vote. The only way to force the Selectboard’s hand is by a charter. We’re unaware of any charter.”

“I know you are looking to do what the most people want,” former selectperson Tom Gould said. “I have my preferences but I’m happy to go with whatever the town wants.”

Having an open forum ahead of another vote on the issue would give people time to read it, understand and discuss it, Gould suggested.

“I know we just passed a vote,” he said. “About 100 people voted for it. 140 people signed the petition. I would suggest those are the people who knew it was coming.

“Most of the people I’m talking to were surprised by it,” Gould noted. “It just doesn’t seem to be in the light of day to have a town meeting converted to a secret ballot and in that secret ballot slip in something that says, ‘Okay we want to continue with these secret ballots.’ It’s up to you but I think it would be a good idea to have one more vote just to alleviate the concerns that I’ve brought up.”

“It’s the Selectboard’s decision to decide if they want to have a town hall meeting or referendum vote,” Miller said. The charter would be the legislative body’s approval saying these are our wishes, demands and to a degree how we would like to see our government operated, he added.

During the Town Meeting referendum vote on June 8, 153 ballots were cast with 114 voters supporting the citizen’s initiative to accept the secret ballot process of voting. 34 were opposed.

Last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Town Meeting was held by referendum vote with fewer voting booths and social distancing required. Selectpersons initially planned to hold a town hall style Town Meeting this year, but went with the referendum ballot option after hearing from citizens.

At the June 22 board meeting, Gould expressed concern about the lack of transparency and questioned if the June 8 vote was legal. The issue was raised at Town Meeting three years ago, he said. “When the people understood what they were voting on it was soundly defeated.”

“There was nothing in the Citizens’ Initiative that actually explained Town Meeting was going away,” Selectperson Tracey Martin said then. “I think a lot of people had no idea what they were voting for.”

The Citizens’ Initiative was filed on the last day it could have been filed, Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller said June 22.

The people have spoken for the referendum vote, Selectperson Scott Richmond said July 6.

In other business the board:

• Approved pay raises for employees included in this year’s budget

• Discussed changing Personnel Policy to state employees can’t use sick/vacation time towards comp time

• Reviewed the proposed Internal Control Policy

• Reviewed the proposed Credit Card Policy

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