They may not attend the Financial Town Meeting, but voters Tuesday weren’t ready to eliminate it, with just over half the electorate, 51 percent, rejecting Question 8.
The question asked voters to approve eliminating the FTM and extending the time allowed to approve a budget. Currently, the Town Council must approve a budget by May 15 and it must go before the voters at an FTM on the second Tuesday in June.
The meeting must reach a quorum of 250 registered voters – something that has not happened since 1999 – otherwise the budget as presented passes into law.
“It’s disappointing,” said Council President Michael Isaacs, who won reelection Tuesday. “I supported abolition in light of the lack of quorums. Maybe we could have done a better job explaining our rationale but there will be an FTM in June this year.”
Bill Stone, who won a seat on the council Tuesday, said he also was in favor of eliminating the FTM.
“It seems like an effort we don’t need to go through. Moreover, with the Town Council being reelected every two years, if folks don’t like what we’re doing with the budget they can always make a change,” he said. “But apparently people like it. They voted for it, they want it. I hope all the people who voted for it show up at the next town meeting.”
The FTM costs about $2,000 annually.
The $2 million road bond (Question 11) passed much more decisively, getting 83 percent of the vote.
“I think people understood if they wanted the roads fixed very quickly, this was the best way to do that,” said Isaacs. “I think they also recognized now’s a good time to borrow money for the town.”
Isaacs had said before Election Day the reason for the bond was because road work had been put off during the economic recession. He called the bond a chance to “catch up.”
It’s unclear just how far that $2 million will go. The first road on the town’s list is Shippee Road, according to Public Works director Joe Duarte.
The two ballot questions (9 and 10) that dealt with the charter also passed by wide margins. Question 9 asked voters to approve including the new EG Fire Department in the Town Charter. It became part of the town in June 2013, but still needed voter authorization to be regulated by the charter as happens with the EG Police Department. It passed 75 percent to 25 percent.
Question 10 asked voters to approve changes to the charter to correct “minor, non-substantive errors.” It passed 80 percent to 20 percent.
Catherine Streich, a senior at East Greenwich High School, is a reporter for East Greenwich News.