Chilmark holds court for abridged warrant

Town budget and other business approved in about a half-hour.

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Chilmark held its 2020 annual town meeting Monday night outdoors on the basketball court behind the Chilmark Community Center. Masks were mandatory, and nobody seemed to have trouble obeying that rule. Attendees handily surpassed a quorum threshold of 25. Of 982 registered voters, 84 showed up, according to town clerk Jennifer Christy. 

Those voters made short work of an abridged 18-article warrant that contained only fiscal items. That included a budget just shy of $11 million for FY21. While the figure wasn’t printed in the warrant, finance committee chair Rob Hannemann later told The Times a breakdown of the $10,760,742 was sent to each Chilmark voter ahead of town meeting. Over the course of a half-hour, all articles passed, with most if not all passing unanimously, including one for three sets of firefighting gear and another for various Dukes County social services. 

Moderator Everett Poole did not declare a unanimous vote for a couple of articles, though they appeared to be unanimous. He simply declared them passed. And on Article 9, which called for $169,136 to replace windows at the Chilmark School, two or more voters could be heard saying no, yet the moderator declared the vote a unanimous approval. That article, along with another to fund the town’s portion of a dust collection system at the high school, must also be approved on Wednesday at the Chilmark annual town election, as they are capital debt exclusions. 

Several articles had modest adjustments to sums contained in them. Hannemann later said those adjustments resulted in minor changes to the budget. There was no disagreement about voting in the amendments to change those figures. On the recommendation of selectman Bill Rossi, several Community Preservation line items were struck from the final article to be voted on, with no disapproval from voters. 

At the close of the meeting, Warren Doty, chairman of the board of selectmen, thanked town employees for the diligence “in keeping Chilmark going for the past three months.”

Doty noted the meeting Monday night constituted the latest Chilmark has ever held an annual meeting in the calendar year. He thanked the voters for their participation, noting the town now has a budget for the start of the next fiscal year. Doty also said town hall will reopen for limited access on June 15.