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To The Editor:
As Town Meeting 2014 approaches, we are hearing and reading articles regarding adopting an Australian ballot for the town's annual budget. Some people are pondering the pros and cons of such a move, while others have already formed an opinion.
Supporters of the Australian ballot feel that too many people cannot make Town Meeting due to being out of state or are being held in by winter's adverse weather. Thus, they cannot add their support or opposition to the issues facing the town, which affect the budget and our taxes. They have no voice.
Opponents to Australian ballot feel the lack of human voices reacting to each article will be lost. This is the very essence of our Town Meetings: the open discussing, debating, deliberating, listening and learning. This liveliness would not happen using an Australian ballot.
Last week Rob Williams wrote an excellent compromise solution in The Valley Reporter which would meet the needs of both proponents and opponents of this issue. His solution, of changing the date of Town Meeting to a Sunday in May, would:
1. allow more citizens of Waitsfield, the out-of-town(ers) and those held hostage to inclement winter weather, to participate and have an influence on the outcomes of the town's expenditures, Also it would
2. allow those, fearful of losing their need of and their right to actively participate and learn through the verbal comments and reactions of the town's citizens, to be able to do so as in our usual town meetings.
His solution to move the date of Town Meeting to a Sunday afternoon in May, beginning at noon and ending at 5 p.m., makes me smile. Just think – no longer encumbered by the heaviness of winter, May is the beginning of new life everywhere. Light and airy is the feeling of life all around us – of returning birds, green vegetation, flowers with vibrant colors and, mostly, people feeling upbeat and energetic as they realize once again they have survived another winter. What better time can there be to hold our annual Town Meeting than May?
As Rob said, this is an issue of quantity of votes versus quality of votes. Why not have both? Changing our Town Meeting to a Sunday in May definitely makes a sensible compromise!