Statement Regarding “Chapter 253-14 Bylaw - Action on articles” and Matters Related to the BHS June 21stSpecial Town Meeting Vote
A Webster voter today inquired about the above article after reading numerous incorrect postings and innuendo that the Town has violated this Bylaw. The voter was concerned about the spreading of (mis)information and asked that the Town put out a Statement to “clear the air”. The Town has not violated this Bylaw and comments saying differently are not only false but disingenuous. None of the individuals propagating these false statements ever sought to contact the Town Administrator to understand why there is no violation as determined by Town Counsel.For the record:
The first Special Town Meeting (STM) for the BHS vote took place on May 9th at 6:30 PM, thirty minutes before the 7:00 PM Annual Town Meeting that took place the same day. With these dates and times inserted into the Bylaw it is clear there has been no violation.
Chapter 253-14 “Action on articles” reads as follows with the dates and times of the meeting inserted:
“Articles appearing on the Warrant (STM at 6:30 PM on 5/9) of any Town Meeting that voters have rejected or passed over may not be resubmitted prior to the next Annual Town Meeting (ATM at 7:00 PM on 5/9)unless the Selectmen have declared the Article to be of an emergency nature or unless by petition of voters in accordance with MGL c. 39, § 10, as amended, or unless passed over for additional information. Articles tabled during the Town Meeting may be resubmitted for the next or any annual or special Town Meeting.
The second STM vote did not take place PRIOR TO the next Annual Town Meeting (ATM) which was at 7:00 PM on 5/9; it took place AFTER “the next ATM” on 6/21.
Town Counsel has confirmed this is the correct interpretation of the Bylaw.
In spite of the above, the Board of Selectmen documented the emergency nature (without using those exact words) in their 5/16 and 5/31 meeting minutes. Please read the minutes to view that documentation.
It was also suggested that taking a vote at this evening’s Selectmen’s meeting was a back door attempt to fix a procedural issue. As noted in a previous statement, Town Counsel suggested that, although not necessary, he recommended out of an abundance of caution the Selectmen should consider taking a vote this evening saying the article was of an “emergency nature”. The Selectmen and Town Administrator considered this redundant, but the Selectmen voted for this as a precautionary measure.
We are concerned that this issue has been created and discussed on social media by individuals unhappy with the 72% of the voters that approved of the BHS renovation at last week’s Special Town Meeting. We hope this statement “clears the air” appropriately.
Lastly, the same individuals have implied there were too many people in the BHS Auditorium last Tuesday for a vote to have taken place. Again, had these individuals contacted the Town Administrator they would have learned that both the Town Fire Chief and the Town Building Inspector inspected the Auditorium in advance of the meeting and approved a capacity of 800 in the Auditorium, plus another 100 capacity in the Band Room adjacent to the stage. There were 658 registered voters attending the meeting. Coupled with non-voters, the capacity limit was not exceeded.
Should anyone have any questions, please contact the Town Administrator’s Office at 508-949-3800, ext. 1005.
Board of Selectmen Chairman, Randy Becker
Town Administrator, Richard LaFond
Issued: June 27, 2022 at 9:00 PM