FROM THE TOWN ADMINISTRATOR’S DESK
By Gregory T. Federspiel
Early and absentee voting has begun for the November 6 elections including the question about a new debt exclusion for the new Manchester elementary school. Voters who are not able to vote on November 6 can vote at Town Hall now until November 2. Absentee ballots may be obtained through noon on November 5. The polls will be open Tuesday, November 6 at Memorial School from 7AM until 8PM.
At the recent fall Town Meetings, voters from both Manchester and Essex gave their initial approval to build a new elementary school to replace Memorial School. Now the project needs to be approved by a majority of voters at the upcoming elections on November 6. The reason for this two-step process is because, to fund the project, a new debt exclusion is proposed and any new debt exclusions must be approved by voters by ballot at a regular or special election.
A yes vote on the school funding question means that the funds to pay for the new school may be raised outside the normal limits of taxation imposed by Proposition 2 ½. By “excluding” the new debt payments (which for Manchester will be about $1.7 million annually) from Proposition 2 ½ , the necessary 6.5% increase in taxes for the 30 year life of the bonds may be in addition to the taxes raised for other needs. (Voters are being asked to authorize the full debt exclusion. This normally means the full exclusion will be utilized to pay the annual debt service but in any given year budgets can be approved that rely on general revenues for a portion of the debt payments instead.) Both member towns of the District must approve the ballot question by a simple majority in order for the new elementary school project to proceed.
Voters coming to the polls November 6 (or now at Town Hall with early voting open) will be given two separate ballots to complete – a local ballot for the school funding question and a state ballot with numerous elections and ballot questions as explained below.
A slate of federal, state, and regional offices are on the state ballot as well as the three state-wide referendum questions. Voters will be asked to choose two members of our Congressional Delegation – one Senator and one Representative, chose who is to be Governor and Lieutenant Governor as well as Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Governor’s Councilor, State Senator, State Representative, District Attorney, Clerk of the Courts and Register of Deeds. Question 1 asks voters whether to approve new minimum staffing levels for nurses. Question 2 asks voters whether to create a citizens commission to advance an amendment to the US Constitution limiting the influence of money in elections and establish that corporations do not have the same rights as people. Question 3 asks voters whether to keep in place the current law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation. Further details on these three ballot questions can be found at www.sec.state.ma.us/ele or by picking up the red booklet produced by the Secretary of State’s Office (additional copies are available at Town Hall.)
If early trends continue, we should see a very healthy turn-out for the mid-term elections and the special ballot regarding the elementary school project. Over 100 voters have come to Town Hall in the first two days of early voting. Make sure your choices are counted – be sure to vote on November 6 or take advantage of early voting. Let’s show that democracy is alive and well in our small corner of the world!