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Request to change Town Meeting date denied


January 13, 2010
TILTON — A request from the chairman of the Life Safety Building Committee to change the date of Tilton's Town Meeting until after Northfield and the fire district hold their annual meetings has been denied.

Chairman Ben Labelle requested the change because of potential conflicts with warrant articles being presented in Northfield and at the Tilton-Northfield Fire District meeting. Northfield's meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 13, the same day as Tilton's, and the fire district meeting is scheduled for the following Monday, March 15. In a letter to the Tilton Board of Selectmen, Labelle said he was concerned that Tilton residents would want to know the outcome of "critical votes" pertaining to the fire district. Specifically, warrant articles presented both in Northfield and at the fire district meeting could determine whether the fire district will dissolve. Whether that happens or not, the vote could have an impact on Tilton residents' votes regarding the Life Safety Building Committee's recommendation, Labelle said.

Thursday night, the Tilton board discussed possibilities that would accommodate the request, including moving the meeting to Wednesday evening, March 17.

"I would be against having a meeting on Wednesday," Selectman David Wadleigh said. "More people come out on Saturday."

Wadleigh suggested starting the business portion of Town Meeting on Saturday, March 15, as scheduled, to get through most of the warrant, then recessing until a later date to vote on any articles pertaining to the potential life safety building or the fire district.

Town Administrator Joyce Fulweiler explained that the law states that appropriations or bonds over $100,000 have to be first on the warrant, making it impossible to put off big-ticket articles.

Other possibilities included moving the meeting to a different Saturday, but it would have to be a Saturday after the March 9 elections. Since the school district meeting is Saturday, March 20, that day was out, and the board felt that waiting until the following Saturday, March 27, would be too late.

Sensing no alternative, the board agreed to keep the Town Meeting date at March 13, with the understanding that the warrant will be prepared in a way that recognizes that Northfield and fire district votes could impact Tilton's votes.

Furthermore, the board agreed that they don't think an article to dissolve the district will pass, which would make moving Tilton's meeting a moot point.

"They have to pass with a 2/3 vote, but I don't think it's going to," Selectman Pat Consentino said.

The article would need to pass in both Northfield and the fire district.

"I personally can't see it broken up, and even so it's going to be a year or two," Wadleigh said.

Selectman Norm Boudreau agreed.

"Even if the fire district is broken up, we can address that the following year, or we can have a special town meeting," said Boudreau.

He said the Life Safety Building Committee was charged with researching both the fire district's needs and the police department's, but ultimately Tilton is only dealing with the police station.

"It's getting to the point where you need a shoehorn just to get another piece of paper in there," Boudreau said.

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