Newsletter headline created confusion

DUMMERSTON — Eesha Williams' letter states that the Dummerston Selectboard “wants to end the right of townspeople to modify the budget at town meeting.” That is not the case.

The confusion is attributable to an article that Selectboard member Hugh Worden wrote for the spring issue of the Views of Dummerston newsletter, and an editorial change that was made to the title: “Board Considers Whether Budget Should be Approved18 [sic] by Australian Ballot.”

Mr. Worden expressed his concern that 10 percent of our eligible voters decide upon Dummerston's municipal budget, and close votes from the floor at Town Meeting have overturned carefully considered decisions made by the Selectboard over several months during public budget meetings.

While acknowledging the venerated institution that is Town Meeting, he questioned whether our municipal budget should be decided for all of our residents by those with the time and ability to attend the meeting at a time when many of our residents are unable to attend and participate.

He further suggested that we consider approving our municipal budget by Australian ballot in polling booths that are open throughout the day, the same way we elect our officials. This, of course, would preclude the opportunity for public discussion.

Eesha Williams states that the Selectboard is “lobbying townspeople to make this change at the next town meeting.” Again, that is not the case. This matter has never been on the Selectboard's agenda, nor has it been discussed at one of our meetings.

He is correct in stating that any decision to have our municipal budget decided by Australian ballot must be made at Town Meeting or following a warned Special Town Meeting, which would be preceded by an informational meeting.

Should the Selectboard pursue the suggestion, this, of course, would result in an important discussion in which all of Dummerston's residents would be encouraged to participate.

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