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Letter: Dem. Town Chair Pushes for Referendum on Fields Plan

Ann Krane wants residents to have a say.

Letter to the Editor:

Residents of Oxford will be asked to vote to approve the construction of athletic fields at the high school soon. This project is estimated to cost over $3 million. According to the town charter, any expenditure under 10 percent of the tax levy may be approved at a town meeting. Our current tax levy is  approximately $32.3 million. The fields project comes in under the 10 percent rule and technically doesn't require a vote by referendum only a town meeting.

It is my opinion that an expenditure of this magnitude should be put to a town referendum vote and not be approved by a relatively small percentage of residents who might attend a town meeting.  A referendum would provide a means for a much larger number of residents to vote their opinion on this project.

The charter also provides for an expenditure under the 10 percent rule to be brought to referendum by petition.  Two hundred signatures on a petition can force a referendum on this proposal. I ask our Selectmen to bring this project to a vote by referendum  rather than a vote by town meeting.

Regards,

Ann Krane

Oxford

Editor's Note: Miss Krane is chairwoman of the Oxford Democratic Town Committee. 

Dave June 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM
The issue will be decided by the three selectmen sitting at the table not just the two. Dave M also has a voice in this decision and it will be interesting to see where he stands on this issue. The DTC seams to be calling the kettle black, anyone remember the Great Hill road project and how that came to be? If it had not been for the insurance settlement for Karen's miss deeds the town would have been hard pressed to make it through the last year. This administration made no secret that the fields were a priority to get finished and have worked hard to bring it in for a number that will not put the town in dire straits. How's that for transparency?
don June 12, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Whether you are rep or dem, a vote of the town should determine the outcome. It should not be determined by a "loaded" town meeting. That does not reflect the desires of the town.
Joe Blow June 12, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Put the thing out in a referendum and see what the taxpayers say. I smell a rat in the current process being rammed down our throats.
Brett Olbrys June 12, 2012 at 02:48 PM
The reason for the 10% number, to force a referendum versus a town meeting, was based on reasoning that not EVERY item should go to a referendum vote and the Charter Revision Commission felt that the 10% number was fair. We also felt that if there was support or opposition to an item going to a town meeting, both sides had an equal opportunity to get its supporters to that meeting to vote on the item in question. We also felt that if there was such concern for an item in question, the residents have an option of forcing a referendum through the petition process. See Chapter 3, section 1(items C & D), as well as sections 7, 8, and 9 of Chapter 3 for more information on petitions and referendum.
carol June 12, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Dave, How will more than $3.0 million make it through now without having the former tax collector's insurance settlement?
Dave June 12, 2012 at 03:38 PM
The former 1st selectman (Rogers) needed it to finish out last year. Don't you remeber when you were chairman of the DTC and together with the 1st selectman pushed through the Great Hill Road project. (At a town meeting) and left the town with bearly enough money to pay employees to do their jobs. George has been open on the whole process and told everyone that has been listening he would like to finaly finish the fields. Maybe you were not listening.
carol June 12, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Who will pay for more than a $3.0 million bond, and how?
Roc June 12, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I believe that for any major changes be made to OUR town there should be a vote. Not everyone can make these town meetings and not everyone knows what's going on. We should be the one's deciding how our town spends our money. Not the politician's.
carol June 12, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Roc, what money?? The cost of this bond was not included in our recent mill rate increase, so who will pay for this and how? Yes, a referendum is required, with full transparency about how George Temple plans to pay for it. That too is our right to know.
Brett Olbrys June 12, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Carol, per Charter, discussion about how to pay for this item is something that is supposed to happen at the joint meeting tonight. If you are interested, I suggest you attend.
Roc June 12, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Carol, sorry I just mean that we should be the one's who decide what major changes are to happen with the town. Whether it's spending or not.Not politicians
carol June 12, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I agree with both of you. I will attend tonight, and I agree that the people must decide on any major expenditure or changes that affects the town. Thanks to both of you for the courtesies of your replies.
Roc June 12, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Which meeting to attend to put into referendum 7:30 or 8?
Paul Singley June 12, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I think you can make a motion for a referendum from the floor of a town meeting, which will be held at a later date. Brett can probably tell you more about this.
Tanya Carver June 12, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Carol Georgette, you are an interesting individual.... here you are agreeing that the people must decide via a referendum "on any major expenditure or CHANGES THAT AFFECT THE TOWN" that thinking was certainly not the case when it came to the Incentive Housing Zone (IHZ - which would be a major change that would affect Oxford). I will continue to support for a referendum when there's a major change in Oxford.
carol June 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Tanya, you may prefer to continue fighting losing court cases regarding IHZ. However, we the people pay for your naive judgment. I understand P&Z finally is creating the necessary rules and regulations to protect our town from paying out even more in such lost cases. Glad to hear that.
Janis Hardy June 12, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Per Town Charter, the BOS CANNOT set a Town Meeting date until the Board of Finance has approved the spending plan for the project. The Board of Finance has up to 30 days to approve/deny the plan from the date it receives notice that the BOS has requested approval for the project. However, the BOF CANNOT approve the spending plan until it holds a Public Hearing on this project, per Charter Sections 6-10 (D &F). It would also be important to note the other provisions of Sections 6-10 (B), (C), (D), (F) and (G). Many of these steps are new changes to the Charter that went into effect on January 1, 2012. These steps cannot be bypassed before the Town proceeds with the provisions of Section 6-11, Borrowing.
Janis Hardy June 12, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Paul, the Revised Charter removed this option from the Town Meeting. At present, only direct Charter provision, the Board of Selectmen or a petition can remove any question on the call of a Town meeting to referendum. If the BOS is foolish enough not to send this to a referendum, then the only way to get it there will be by petition!
Janis Hardy June 12, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Dave, get over Great Hill Road already! The Charter Revision Commission completely changed the procedure so this cannot happen again. As chair of the ORTC, maybe you ought to spend some time reading the new Charter, since it appears the Selectmen aren't doing it!
Janis Hardy June 12, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Tanya, now that you have been elected to P&Z, haven't you learned what the role of P&Z is yet, and that the Town Meeting has no authority over their actions?
Concerned Parents June 12, 2012 at 11:01 PM
We both feel that a project of this size should be voted on by referendum. Which one of the many who are calling for one is circulating the petition?
kathy johnson June 13, 2012 at 01:22 AM
It would like to see this issue go to referendum.
Brett Olbrys June 13, 2012 at 03:27 AM
It is still too early in the process for a petition. The BOF has to first give it its "favorable" approval. Once that occurs and it goes back to the BOS, the town meeting can then be set. At THAT point, the petition process could start. Section 3-7(A) of the Charter says, "Only an elector or a person qualified to vote at a Town Meeting may circulate a petition requiring that a Special Town Meeting be convened by the Board of Selectmen, or that a question in the warning of any Town Meeting be removed to a referendum vote at a Town Meeting by Referendum. The petition shall be signed only by electors or persons qualified to vote at any such Town Meeting or Referendum on the day the petition is filed." The statement to pay attention to is ..."a question in the warning of any Town Meeting be removed to a referendum vote at a Town Meeting by Referendum." Once the question is known, the petition should be written around that question and you should work with the Town Clerk to make sure the proper wording and procedures are being followed.
Janis Hardy June 13, 2012 at 06:53 PM
As soon as the Town Meeting on this issue is noticed, there will be several concerned taxpayers circulating the petition to remove the vote on the question to a referendum. I have volunteered to be one of them, and I am sure this forum will be used to let interested signers know the petition is ready. Anyone out there wishing to sign can call me and I will make arrangements to collect your signature(s). I am in the book.... However, I am still hopeful the First Selectman will see the light and be responsive to his constituents, and the BOS will send this to referendum and we will avoid all this drama....
Roc June 13, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I will sign the petition for referendum
Roc June 13, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I would like all of the unfinished projects completed first.

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