Board votes to postpone Shrewsbury Town Meeting and reduce quorum

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – On July 14, Town Moderator Chris Mehne paid a visit to the Board of Selectmen to discuss another postponement of the Annual Town Meeting, this time to Saturday, Aug. 8, with the possibility of holding it outside at the Shrewsbury Middle School, 100 Maple Ave.

The latest scheduled date for Town Meeting had been Wednesday, July 29, at Shrewsbury High School. Discussions that Mehne has had since this date was announced have made it clear from a public health standpoint that holding a large event of this nature was not advisable.  

The Shrewsbury Middle School campus provides a convenient outdoor location with access to parking and facilities inside the two school buildings.

Selectman John Lebeaux agreed with the concept of having the meeting outside at the middle school campus, and postponing it to Aug. 8. The front of Oak Middle School, 45 Oak St., and the ball fields were also under consideration.

“We are going to have a large tent so that people are protected from the sun assuming it’s a nice warm August day,” noted Selectman Maurice DePalo.

Town Manager Kevin Mizikar added that the tent company will provide ADA mobility assistance planks as needed and that the cost is estimated at $14,000 with chair, set-up and the stage. Mizikar shared that there will be a “state of the art sound system” and stationary microphones for members.

A public hearing immediately followed pertinent to altering the quorum required to hold Town Meeting. 

Mizikar said that there have been a series of general laws that have been passed to enable municipalities to reduce standing quorums to conduct Town Meeting. There are 240 elected members in Shrewsbury with a quorum of 121.

“This provision is not aimed at trying to reduce the number of people we want to have at Town Meeting,” Mizikar remarked.

Resident Jason Molina recommended reducing quorum according to the number of Town Meeting members that are 60 years of age or older. 

The board was in favor of reducing the quorum, but it was the reduction that was debated. Selectman John Lebeaux was in favor of 61 while Selectman John Samia suggested 80.

“It just balances our ability to do business given all the considerations that we’ve talked about…also assuring adequate representation of all the precincts,” Samia said.

Selectman Jim Kane was confident that regardless of the quorum that people will come out in force to attend Town Meeting.

The vote was split three in favor of reducing quorum to 61 and two opposed. Kane and Samia voted “no.”