Annual Town Meeting is quickly approaching! I gave you a quick overview of the March Town Meeting in a previous post. I wanted to take this opportunity and add a little more detail about our upcoming Town Meeting on March 14th.
As I said before town meetings are made up of two distinct parts - the first part is the "official ballot" and elections voting. Here in Waterville Valley we begin our voting at the polls at Noon and the polls remain open until 5:00 p.m. This year we have election of officers for the Town and School District and we also have several Zoning Ordinance changes that the Planning Board is recommending. All of these things will be voted on by written ballot during the polling time.
Like any other election if you cannot get to the polls within those 5 hours on voting day you can fill out an absentee ballot. Our absentee ballots will be available starting on March 1st. You can get an absentee ballot by coming into the town office and filling out an absentee ballot request. You will then get your ballot and you can fill it out, making sure that you return it to the Town Office by March 13th.
The other part of the town meeting is the "deliberative session" which is where the voters of the town come together and discuss what money will be raised for the operation of the town departments and any special projects or events that will happen during the year. Our deliberative session will begin at 5:30 p.m. on March 14th - just after the polls close. As the town cannot spend any money without the approval of town meeting, these votes are very important for the operation of the town throughout the year. There are no provisions in NH State law for absentee votes for the deliberative session, you must be present to vote on these warrant articles.
Town employees, department heads and the Board of Selectmen work very hard to develop a budget request that pays for the services that they think is necessary and meets the desires of residents, property owners and guests. The budget process takes several months and includes input from other boards such as the Planning Board which is responsible for the development of our Capital Improvements Program. This year the total of the town operating budget and all special warrant articles is $4,154,690 and the estimated amount to be raised by taxes for town operations is $2,832,784. The number for the amount to be raised for taxes represents a $13,347 increase over the amount raised in 2016 which is less than one-half of one percent.
During town meeting we will discuss the different parts of the budget request and answer any questions that attendees have about how we plan to use the money that we are asking to raise. Town meeting is a true democracy with all voters present being able to speak on any part of the budget and with all voters having an equal vote on the warrant articles.
As we get closer to town meeting we will have the Annual Report available for you to look at. We distribute these books to several locations around town (post office, recreation department lobby, elementary school, town hall, and different businesses at Town Square). The Annual Report has all of the town meeting information in it as well as reports from town departments and organizations with town affiliation. There is a lot of information available in the Town Report, so please take a look at one before town meeting and you will be a well prepared voter.
Town Meeting is a chance for you to hear what is going on in town government in 2017. Please come and let us know how we are doing and what you think about our plans for the year.