Special Town Election held Tuesday, Feb. 26

by Town Reminder

———-Special Town Election 2013 ——-

Two-question ballot includes Collector, Clerk-Treasurer changes
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – Voters will decide this week if they want to see significant changes to the positions of Collector and Town Clerk-Treasurer as well as allow the town to participate in debt exclusion for the proposed new Plains School.
A Special Town Election will be held Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at South Hadley High School.
Question 1 asks residents to allow a temporary hike in taxes in order to construct a new Plains Elementary School on the current property.
The project will cost $28,183,801 million. South Hadley is responsible for $12.9 to $14.3 million, with the Massachusetts School Building Authority covering between $13.9 and $15.3 million.
The project would cost the average taxpayer $131 per year over the course of 20 years.
Question 1 reads in full: “Shall the Town of South Hadley be allowed to exempt from the Proposition two-and-one-half, so called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to replace the Plains Elementary School, 267 Granby Road, including designing, constructing and originally furnishing a two-story, 63,377 square-foot pre-kindergarten to first grade school on the existing site and demolishing the existing structure?”
Question 2 seeks residents’ input on adopting legislation recommended by the Financial Policy Advisory Team [FinPAT] which would first separate the position of Town Clerk-Treasurer, currently held by Carlene Hamlin, into two different positions.
Second, the proposed legislation would no longer allow residents to elect individuals to the three positions of Collector, Clerk and Treasurer, instead allowing the Town Administrator to appoint persons with approval by the Selectboard.
Should these changes go forward, the ballot question also seeks to keep those currently holding the titles of Collector and Town Clerk-Treasurer in their positions until they retire or resign.
Question 2 reads in full: “Shall an Act passed by the General Court on Dec. 31, 2013 and signed by the Governor on Jan. 10, 2013 titled, “An Act Relative to the Positions of Collector and Clerk-Treasurer in the Town of South Hadley be accepted?”
“The Town Clerk’s office is encouraging everyone to get out and vote,” said Town Clerk-Treasurer Carlene Hamlin.
She encourages residents to cast their votes more toward the afternoon, as students at South Hadley High School will be following a half-day schedule.
“We’re going to do our best with parking and hopefully we won’t have a snowstorm,” she said.
Elderly residents are encouraged to park as close to the building as they can. The Department of Public Works will make sure the parking lot and school area are sufficiently plowed to accommodate voter crowds
Absentee ballots are still available for voters who will not be in town the day of the election but still wish to cast their votes, or for those who have physical disabilities or religious beliefs that will keep them from the polls.
Ballots can be obtained daily at the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Applications for such a ballot must be made in writing. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Feb. 25 by 12 p.m.