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Lanesborough Selectmen Considering Secret Ballot At Town Meeting

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
05:32PM / Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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The Board of Selectmen expressed interest in doing a secret ballot for the big ticket items in the budget.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Voters overwhelming rejected a plan to cut $25,000 from the Police Department's budget in 2012.

The Selectmen say they had support for the move. But when voters had to raise their red cards in the air, next to their neighbors with families working in the department, and with officers pleading their case to restore the funding, the support vanished.

"They feel big brother is watching them if they raise their hand," said Selectman Henry Sayers.

Now the Selectmen have asked Town Administrator Paul Sieloff to see if there is a way to do secret ballots at town meeting for the "big budget items."

Chairman John Goerlach said that when it comes to some of the larger budgets, there are those who keep their opinions to themselves in the wake of pushback from the departments.

"If you are not getting a good, accurate vote on what you are trying to set a budget for, it's not good for all of the people," he said.

Sieloff said secret ballots are "very uncommon" and he "can think of at least one or two headaches that will come with it." But he is also sure there is a process for it, which he will have to look into.

Particularly, the budget for the Mount Greylock Regional High School budget could become problematic. Any changes to that budget could result in a school districtwide vote. The school is already proposing a 4 percent increase in assessments, which town officials are opposing.

In other business, Sieloff suggested the town spend $200 to put the annual report online. The town had currently put it on the website "piecemeal" but the company doing the printing said it could produce an online version for $200 more.

The town budgeted $2,500 for the printing and the bids came in at $2,100, leaving room in the budget to do so, Sieloff said.

Tags: town meeting 2014,   voting,   

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