HELP CITY AND TOWN GOVERNMENTS

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By Bob Katzen

The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would lower the number of voters needed at an open town meeting in order to have a quorum. Other provisions include allowing virtual representative town meetings to be held online, allowing towns to hold town meetings outside the geographic limits of the town if the select board determines that it is not possible to conduct town meetings within the geographic limits of the town that ensures health and safety, requiring registered voters wishing to participate in a remote town meeting to submit a request to participate to the town clerk not less than 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Another key section allows a mayor who is unable to submit an annual budget for fiscal year 2021 to the city council within 170 days after his or her inauguration to submit the budget to the city council within 30 days after the termination of the governor’s declaration of emergency, or on July 31, 2020, whichever is earlier.

“Throughout this public health crisis, the Senate has acted swiftly to provide our municipalities with the flexibility they need to operate,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “This latest measure is a testament to that commitment and ensures that the town meeting process can continue while maintaining the health and safety of members and the public.”

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