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Northwood Deliberative Session, May 15, 2021

Lucy Edwards
Start Date:Issue Date:

About 40 voters met in the Northwood School Gym on May 15 to vote on what would be on the ballot on June 8th. If you were not able to attend, you can find the recording of the meeting on the Northwood Livestream. It’s only about an hour and a half.

The warrant that the Select Board and Budget Committee presented to the voters can be found here. (Ignore the dates, they were changed in January to May 15 for this meeting, and June 8 for the election due to the Covid-19 Emergency.).

The goal for the voters was to decide what the warrants on the ballot would be like on June 8. The candidates who will appear were the ones who signed up in January. After that there will be the two Zoning Amendments proposed by the Planning Board. The rest of the warrant articles were proposed by the SelectBoard and reviewed by the Budget Committee.

So why doesn’t that warrant just go onto the ballot? In the days when we had the old fashioned Town Meeting, there was a chance to discuss and amend the warrant articles and vote on them in a meeting face-to-face, and the ballot with the candidates is voted on another day. Here’s an explanation of how and why.

The voters decided on proposed amendments for 5 articles (you might need to download this). The first amendment proposed was voted down, on Article 4, the Operating Budget. Tim Jandebeur proposed that the $3,962,060 the BOS and the Budget Committee agreed on be cut to $3,571,500. He explained that the difference was the amount he calculated was in last year’s adopted budget for roads minus what was actually spent. He asked for a secret ballot. The secret ballot vote was 18 for and 22 against amending the article. Next the voters voted by a show of the yellow cards they got when they signed in to put the article on the ballot as written.

The rest of the amendments proposed were approved. The next article with an amendment was 14, and the Select Board proposed the changes. Northwood is coming up to its 250th anniversary, and there will be celebrations. There has been a trust fund for 25 years, with funds in it that was set up for the 200th anniversary, and it was being proposed to use those funds for the 250th. However it turns out that money wasn’t "left-over,” the wording of the warrant article that created that trust fund explained that the funds had been raised during the celebration and could only be used for the Town Hall, etc. and only that. So the amendment was changed so that it can continue.

So where will money for the 250th anniversary celebration would come from? Article 15, which was written to take the Bicentennial funds, was amended to get funds from the unassigned fund balance instead. What is the unassigned fund balance? "Unassigned fund balance is the residual classification for the general fund. This classification represents fund balance that has not been assigned to other funds and that has not been restricted, committed, or assigned to specific purposes within the general fund.” [GASB]

Article 22 was amended to change the source of the funds for the Safety Facility Site Capital Reserve Fund. Rather than raise the money from property taxes, the BOS proposed that the unassigned fund balance be the source.

The last article, 26, was amended by changing the ages for the elderly exemptions from property taxes to correct the way it should be written.