Despite weeks of coverage leading up to the day, and annual prompting in this space and elsewhere for folks to get out and have their voices heard, each year when Town Meeting rolls around the Reformer editorial board is surprised at how it seems to sneak up on people. It's understandable that not everyone can take the time off of work to attend Town Meeting, which falls on a Tuesday each year, but everyone in those towns that rely on an Australian ballot should have time to stop in and cast his or her vote.
There are a lot of typical, important items on ballots, including town and school budgets, whether human services organizations should get taxpayer dollars and a choice of who will represent you on your Selectboard for the next one, two or three years. And according to state law, all polling locations have to be open between the hours of at least 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. That seems like plenty of time to get out and vote. Many of our towns take votes from the floor of Town Meeting, so it's important that residents take time to attend.
There's a handful of interesting items being addressed around the county.
In Putney, the town is considering switching its ambulance service from Rescue Inc. to Golden Cross; in Rockingham and Bellows Falls, voters have an opportunity make their voices heard in the controversy over the Rockingham Free Public Library by selecting candidates for its Board of Trustees; in Vernon, residents will be discussing their reduced budget due to the imminent closure of Vermont Yankee; in Townshend, voters are going to be asked to spend $125,000 to modernize or relocate the town's transfer station; and in Wilmington, a decision has to be made over whether the town should start an emergency disaster fund.
And though the real nitty gritty in Brattleboro isn't hashed out until Representative Town Meeting on March 22, on Tuesday voters will have the chance to weigh in on whether the town should institute a local 1-cent option tax on all sales to defray the cost of renovations to the town's police and fire stations. Though their vote is non-binding, it could help to inform the decision Meeting Representatives make when they take up the issue on March 25.
Remember, all it takes is a few minutes to run to the center of town and take care of your business. After all, as we've asked in the past, if that's not a good enough reason to get down and cast your ballot, here's another one: What right do you have to gripe and moan about the actions of your Selectboard or taxes if you don't vote? Men and women from the American Revolution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have fought and died to give us that right. We should honor their sacrifices.
But most of all: It's the best way to weigh in on all the issues that can and do affect your day-to-day life.