New town meeting procedure to ‘fill in the blanks’

Those who attend Wilton’s Annual Town Meeting tonight will be asked to approve some new procedures, intended to make things more efficient, First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice told the Bulletin. The meeting begins at 7:30 in the Clune Center auditorium on the campus of Wilton High School, 395 Danbury Road.

Town Counsel Ira Bloom will act as parliamentarian. The moderator will be voted upon; Vanderslice said she will nominate Planning and Zoning Vice Chair Scott Lawrence, who was last year’s moderator.

Bloom will propose that the meeting follow Robert’s Rules of Order. He will also propose a procedure from Robert’s Rules called Filling in the Blanks that will apply to any motion to cut the town or school budget by a specific amount. According to a slide to be shown at tonight’s meeting, if there is such a motion, the moderator will ask for other suggestions to see if anyone else proposes a different amount. If there is more than one suggested dollar cut, each will be considered to “fill in” the “blank.”

The moderator will allow debate on all the suggested cuts and then a vote will be taken on each, beginning with the largest, and ending if one of the cuts gets a majority.

In addition, Bloom will propose that there will be a three-minute time limit on speakers for all items except the bonding resolutions. If a speaker chooses to address more than one bonding resolution they may speak for up to six minutes.

There will also be a proposal regarding a motion to “call the question.” When a participant feels there has been enough discussion of an item and wishes to cut off debate, they may move to “call the question.” Those at the meeting will be asked to adopt a rule to give the moderator discretion to delay a vote on the motion to allow anyone still wishing to speak the opportunity to do so.

The meeting will vote whether to adopt the above proposals.
Rules in place
The meeting is also governed by rules in the town charter. The meeting may not:

  • Appropriate more money than the Board of Finance recommended for a particular line item.

  • Appropriate money for any purpose not recommended by the Board of Finance and represented by a line item.

  • Reduce any line item below the town’s legal obligation.

  • Reduce one line item in order to increase another.

The meeting may:

  • Reduce particular line items within the Board of Selectmen’s recommended budget.

  • Reduce only the total recommended Board of Education budget — not a particular line item.

  • Reduce the debt service appropriation, but not below legal obligations.

Once the meeting votes to adopt the budget and bonding proposals individual voting will commence in the Clune Center lobby. An adjourned vote takes place in the Clune Center on Saturday, May 6, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.