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4/9/2014 2:00:00 PM
Wiscasset's Town Meeting Could be a Short One
By Charlotte Boynton

During an interview with former selectman Ben Rines April 7, he said, "I will be attending Wiscasset's open town meeting May 31, and I will be making a motion to adjourn."

Rines has been very critical of the town selectmen's decision to hold an open town meeting, instead of referendum voting for the proposed town budget. Wiscasset citizens voted overwhelmingly to discontinue the open town meeting in favor of a referendum vote in 2005.

A motion to adjourn at the beginning of the town meeting, if approved by a majority of the voters, would close the meeting before any business could be conducted.

Rines said he decided to go forward with making the motion to adjourn after speaking with several Wiscasset residents who expressed their concern that people who are unable to attend the open town meeting will be unable to vote, such as the elderly, some veterans, and working men and women who work on Saturday.

"If the motion fails and the voters want an open town meeting I have no problem with an open town meeting, but I believe that decision is up to the voters, not the selectmen," Rines said.

Selectman Ed Polewarczyk commented, at the April 1 selectmen's meeting about the consequences of closing the town meeting before the business could be conducted.

"It would mean the town would shut down as of July 1, 2014 because there had been no budgets approved, and the town could need to lay-off employees and pay $256,000 in severance pay to them," Polewarczyk said.

Rines said it is not his intent to shut-down the town; he supports a suggestion made by Wiscasset resident Steve Mehrl to put a question on the June 10 ballot to authorize the town to spend 3/12 of the 2013 budget to keep the town going until another town meeting, or a vote by a referendum vote could take place.

"I believe four of the selectmen are refusing to listen to the people," Rines said, referring to Selectmen Polewarczyk, Pam Dunning, Tim Merry, and Jefferson Slack. Selectman Judy Colby is opposing the open town meeting.

The four selectmen supporting the open town meeting have indicated it will be better for the voters.

Polewarczyk has said he supports an open town meeting to give the voters a better understanding of the details of the proposed budget, of which they need to approve or not.

Merry has said he supports the open town meeting because it allows the voter an opportunity to debate the issues and ask questions. Both Dunning and Slack have indicated the same concerns during the selectmen's meetings when the issue of the open town meeting was discussed.

Wiscasset's annual town meeting is scheduled for May 31, 9 a.m., at the Wiscasset Community Center.

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