HELP TOWN GOVERNMENTS

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By Bob Katzen

The Legislature has taken no action on the governor’s bill that permits the moderator of town meetings to declare a 30-day postponement due to a public health emergency after consulting with the Select Board; permits a Select Board to vote to extend the date of annual town meeting beyond the existing statutory cut-off of June 30; permits towns to reduce quorum requirements for town meeting as a short-term measure in order to permit communities to conduct their most pressing business with a reduced number of members in attendance; and permits towns that are unable to finalize a budget before the start of the new fiscal year to continue month-to-month spending on essential operations at the same levels as the current fiscal year.

“This legislation is designed to provide flexible solutions for communities across the commonwealth as the challenges of the COVID-19 epidemic disrupt the normal conduct of administering town government,” wrote Gov. Baker. “The bill creates several options for towns to address the immediate problem that COVID-19 and the risks of large, public gatherings present to town meetings that may be scheduled to occur in the coming weeks.”

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