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Newfane’s Town Meeting was in Union Hall this year.


Town Meeting defeats extension of terms for town officers

Residents describe meeting as ‘smooth,’ ‘uneventful,’ ‘sedate,’ ‘polite’

NEWFANE—Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle characterized this year’s meeting as “smooth and uneventful.”

Newfane resident Laurie Merrigan agreed. “It was the most sedate and polite town meeting I’ve been to,” she said. Merrigan said she has been attending the annual meeting “since I was old enough to vote.”

Most articles passed without amendments, with a few notable exceptions.

Three articles — numbers 10, 11, and 12 — were defeated. These asked voters to decide whether the terms for town clerk, treasurer, and the collector of delinquent taxes, should change from one year to three years.

Some residents referenced Putney’s town clerk, Denise Germon, who abandoned her three-year term less than three months after her election, as a reason to keep Newfane’s positions as one-year terms.

“People were concerned that if the town clerk or treasurer were doing a bad job, we’d be stuck with [them] for three years,” Merrigan told The Commons.

Voters passed the budget, which was addressed in Article 9, but two amendments came from the floor to increase it to $1,418,035 from $1,388,035.

With the closing of the South Newfane/Williamsville Fire Department, their line item in the budget — which in recent years was $20,000 — was eliminated.

Numerous attendees spoke out in favor of giving the NewBrook Fire Department more money, particularly because that department is covering most of the calls the South Newfane/Williamsville FD would otherwise cover. “There were passionate responses in favor of” NewBrook, Merrigan said.

Resident Bob Litchfield amended Article 9 to add $20,000 to NewBrook’s line item in the budget. But, according to Meckle, “It was then amended again to add $30,000. So, in the end, NewBrook Fire Department got $50,000.”

After voters got through the articles on the warning, Selectboard Chair Marion Dowling reminded residents to come to Board meetings.

“Some people don’t realize our Selectboard meetings are open to the public,” she said.

Dowling also schooled attendees on the best way to get their questions answered or their concerns heard. “You must bring things to us as a unit,” she said, because Selectboard members cannot unilaterally make decisions.

Selectboard member Gary Delius echoed Dowling’s request, and urged the public to “come to meetings and speak up. That’s the way that real change takes place."

Newfane’s Selectboard meets every first and third Monday at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.

Dowling invited voters to contact Meckle for access to Board members. “She’s always there to help people,” she said. “Shannon can put you on the [Selectboard meeting] agenda, or you can come in as an unscheduled member of the public."

Delius requested, and got, attendees to give Meckle a round of applause. “She does the yeoman’s job for the town,” said Delius.

Dowling also noted Town Hall’s recent interior paint job, and said “it’s a very welcoming place” because of the fresh paint, the friendly people who work in the building, and the snacks and coffee.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #449 (Wednesday, March 7, 2018). This story appeared on page D1.

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