The town of Whitman was able to complete a second night of town meeting and set the election for a Proposition 2 ½ override, despite a few distractions during the evening. The second night of town meeting was anything but uneventful. Residents heading into the meeting on Tuesday night were first greeted by a small group of protesters outside of town hall. Jennifer Kirby, a Whitman resident was one of those protesters bearing signs to express her displeasure with the town’s fiscal woes.
“I just want to know where the money is going, my taxes are higher than so many people that I know,” Kirby said. “They say why don’t you move and I’m like I’ve dug my roots here. I love this town and I don’t want to move.”
Meanwhile, town meeting reconvened inside town hall, as residents took turns questioning various line items and eventually approved all 37 articles on the annual warrant.
One expense that drew conversation was the increase the town will pay in FY 2014 to South Shore Regional Vocational Technical High School in Hanover. Some residents questioned why more than $209,000 was going to another regional school system and nothing was being done to keep students within the Whitman Hanson school district.
Selectmen chairman Carl Kowalski took a moment to put the two nights into perspective.
“Monday night was one of the more contencious meetings we’ve ever had, I think and it got ugly at times,” Kowalski explains. “Tonight wasn’t an ugly meeting, it was a meeting in which we went through business fairly crisply, even though there was a lot of it and we ended up where we were heading towards last night, which is an override ballot for $800,000.”
The town was successful in passing an override last year for $440,000. Kowalski say if this year’s override request is going to pass, he thinks it will need to be promoted to properly educate the town’s voters.
Once town meeting ended, the board of selectmen met to approve a date to hold the override election. The override question will appear on a separate ballot during special US Senate elections, which will be held on June 25th at Whitman Town Hall.