Special Town Meeting Starts Wednesday At The Chenery With Minuteman Redux

Photo: The new Minuteman High School in Lexington.

It’s the return of the Minuteman to Town Meeting as Belmont’s legislative body will convene in a special session on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School as the high school auditorium will be filled with student/athletes on Awards Night.

Minuteman Returns As Members Ponder A … Return

The majority of the first night will be a debate and vote on Article 4 will be whether the town should reconsider its 2016 BelExit decision to bolt from its four-decade-long membership (by a 141-81 Town Meeting margin) in the Minuteman Career and Technical High School in Lexington and ask nicely to re-join the school district again.

The Minuteman redux is that since rejecting paying $144 million of its share of funding the new school, two major facts have come to the fore: first, after three years, the town has discovered there is no practical alternative for the two to three dozen Belmont students seeking a vocational education. Second, the new school which opened this year has been extremely popular and it’s forecasted there will not be the necessary classroom seats for all the students who want to attend from non-member towns.

Complicating matters is that the town will be required to hand over a one-time buy-back fee of $472,000 on top of paying the annual tuition assessment of approximately $255,000 in the 2020 school year.

It will be a debate with Minuteman supporters pointing to the corner the town has been painted into and their critics basing its “stay the course” plan on the Groucho Marx quote: I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

Other Articles Set For Wednesday

Article 1 will allow for reports, proclamations and recognitions. Expect the late Lydia Ogilby to be acknowledged.

Article 2 is a capital appropriation for $347,700 to pay for the second half of the funding (the first at $347,100 was approved at May’s Meeting) to purchase a new fire department pumper truck. Expect easy passage as to why would members only want half a pumper truck?

Article 3 – which will follow the Minuteman article – will seek the approval of transferring an undetermined amount of money from Free Cash, which is at $8.1 million, into the General Stabilization Fund. The amount will be around $2.5 million to forego until November 2020 the all but inevitable Prop 2 1/2 override vote. Some questions on this and the odd “no” vote.

A Word From Mike For The Members: Limits Will Be Enforced

Town Moderator Mike Widmer has asked that Town Meeting Members be reminded of the following:

  • All meetings will start promptly at 7 p.m.; please plan to arrive in time to secure parking, sign in and obtain your electronic voting device.
  • The Moderator will strictly enforce the five-minute rule as well as the Moderator’s rules for speaking on any motion, rules that have already been distributed to Town Meeting Members.
  • Presenters will be held to the 10-minute limit and reminded at the nine minutes mark that there is one minute remaining.
  • Town Meeting Members will be required to sit in the designated sections of the auditorium – for the Chenery, the center section and the left section as seen from the rear of the auditorium and for the High School, the front section of the auditorium. We anticipate that there may be a number of non-Town Meeting Members who will attend these sessions of Town Meeting and by law, we must keep them separate from the Town Meeting Members.
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