Deserve Their Own Attention
I attended the Madison Board of Selectmen meeting on Feb. 24 and was very happy to see the board vote to hold a referendum on two longstanding, important issues in town: the school facilities plan and a community center in Academy. The referendum will be held in the first week of October, and the ballot will have a separate question for each of the two issues.
Kudos to this board for taking the next step and setting a date. The October timeline was requested by both the Board of Education (BOE) and the Ad-hoc Academy Community Center Design Committee. While arguments can be made for holding a referendum at a different time of the year or in conjunction with the November elections, an October date is an excellent choice for several reasons. It allows sufficient time for the BOE and the Academy committee to educate the public on the costs of these projects and their effect on taxes. It allows for a longer advocacy period as the statutory quiet time for a November date would actually begin earlier, in August, whereas the quiet time for an October date won’t start until mid-September (allowing the BOE to educate parents on the schools plan after the start of the school year).
Additionally, taxpayers who aren’t permanent residents of Madison will have a simpler voting process than if these referendum questions were on a November ballot along with elections in which those taxpayers would be ineligible to vote, and most important, these two initiatives—our schools and Academy—are impactful enough on our town that they deserve their own attention from voters in conjunction with the longest educational and public feedback time possible.