A Special Town Meeting was held in Killington, VT on Monday evening, May 9, 2011. Close to 300 voters attended. The original purpose of the Special Town Meeting was to review and vote on a revised 2011 budget. The original budget had been voted down at the annual town meeting held in March. The new budget, which is approximately $250,000 lower than the original, passed unaninously. As it turns out, that was the least contentious Article on the agenda.
Two other significant town issues were petitioned to be “warned”, discussed, and voted at the Special meeting. The first Articles that stimulated some “heated debate” concerned the use of Australian ballots for voting on the town budget, public questions, and electing town officials. Australian ballots would allow for voters to vote during designated hours (a minimum of 10am to 7pm) on Town Meeting Day as well as up to two weeks in advance and/or use absentee ballots. The Town Meeting would be an informational meeting only and could be held up to three days in advance of the official Town meeting voting day which is the first Tuesday in March.
Those in favor of maintaing the current process of presenting, discussing, and voting during the annual town meeting based their feelings on the importance of voters being well informed of all arguments prior to making their decision. They felt that voters were less likely to attend an “informational” town meeting if they could vote without attending and they would be less “informed” when casting their vote. Those in favor of using the Australian Ballot system cited work schedules and other commitments that precluded people from being able to attend the Town meeting and hence prevented them from voting. Their argument was that fewer voters’ preferences were able to be represented. A paper ballot was called and the Australian ballot was approved by a vote of approximately 55%.
The second major issue discussed and voted concerned whether or not to increase the size of the Select Board from three members to five members. The primary arguments of those in favor of the increase were that: the workload responsibility was too heavy for a three person board and; a five-person board would represent a broader base of voters. The arguments to maintain the three-person board were that the Select Board had been able to accomplish what was necessary in a short period of time and that the Board that was elected in March should be given an opportunity to do what the voters elected them to do. In my mind, there was a strong undercurrent in the room feeling that the reason to increase the size of the board at this time was to attempt to overturn the direction the voters had decided in March. The Article to increase the size of the board was defeated by a vote of 150 to 133.
The Special Town meeting was adjourned after that vote. For a full account of the Special Town Meeting results visit the Town of Killington website.