Poll: Will You Attend the Annual Town Meeting?

The town forum is frequently poorly attended. Tell us if you'll go.

Not too long ago, the annual town meeting was where Farmington residents learned about the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year and voted on it — the referendum is a relatively new addition to the process.

But in the past few years, the Farmington town meeting has struggled even to reach a quorum, some with less than a few hundred residents in attendance.

Last year, however, a pro-budget group used the forum to restore $750,000 the Town Council had cut from the proposed budget after it failed at a first referendum, raising complaints that a group of 324 voters had overturned the vote of the entire town. 

"We've had a big problem in recent years, in that we didn't even meet the quorum," said Town Council Chairman Jeff Hogan recently. "We get those that are very much in favor of the budget and those that are very much against it. We don’t have the middle ground."

So, will you attend? Are you in the middle?

Jack R. April 19, 2012 at 02:15 PM
This meeting is redundant. The referendum is the place to voice our support or opposition to the budget. As mentioned in the article, a small group of voters has the potential to override the will of the town wide voters. The meeting served it's purpose before the referendum was put into place. It is now obsolete and only serves to divides residents, or worse, derail the budget process.
Robert Huelin April 20, 2012 at 02:22 PM
The Meeting is an important part of the budget process. The Council made a recommendation to the Town Meeting, but it is the Town Meeting that actually has the power to adjust the budget. I can promise you, having served on the Council, that the Council has no more insight into or information about the operation of Town departments than most members of the public, and there is nothing illegitimate about adjusting the budget at the Town Meeting. I would also point out that the article is misleading at best to say that any group of voters can "oeverride" the "will" of the town voters. First, the referendum is no less a minority of the public than the Town Meeting--it is just a larger minority. Second, the budget was passed by the same voters whose "will" was challenged at the Town Meeting during the second referendum--and I've never heard an explanation as to why the first vote was the "will of the people" but the second vote was not. I agree Farmington has a needlessly complex process, but it is nothing more than a truly democratic legislative process that is no more or less legitimate than the many other forms of democratic governance you can find in Connecticut.
Jack R. April 20, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I see your point Robert, but respectfully disagree. I should hope the town council members have better insight into what the town departments are doing. Kathy Eagan and her staff go through a lot of trouble of making sure they are aware of what the departments are doing with budget funds. The endless hours of budget meetings bear this out. The referendum accomplishes its purpose: giving residents a voice in the budget process. It's difficult enough getting people to come out to vote. Adding more layers to the process just makes it less likely people will participate in the process. As far as multiple referendums go, I don't understand them. Why not keep voting until the desired result is achieved. You're bound to wear people out eventually.


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