For Monday evening's Town Meeting in Rockport, we are making some small format changes that we hope will increase attendance and participation (Thanks to Manchester for setting a great example in efficiency!). Please come and then let us know what you think about the changes.
The moderator or his designee will make the majority of the motions (on behalf of the assigned motion maker). Then the moderator will announce whether the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee support the motion. Both these steps will save presentation time. Then a board or committee representative may comment briefly if necessary. The moderator will then open it up to discussion or questions from the public. Boards and committees will also be prepared to answer questions.
We will also have a few large screens that will project the motions and several other helpful pieces of information throughout the meeting that will help to move things along.
This year, voters will also see a change in the way Article 5 is presented. As stated at last year's meeting, the fiscal 2013 budget includes the fully allocated cost of labor and debt in department operations. The allocated labor costs are: employee health and life insurance, pension expense, and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax.
The fiscal 2012 budget is presented in both the old and new formats allowing Rockport voters to make direct comparisons from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2012 (old format) and fiscal 2012 to fiscal 13 in the new format. The fiscal 13 recommended budget is only in the fully allocated format.
We believe that the town and its employees will realize several benefits from this new process, including that the total cost of operating each department will be more explicit.
I hope you will try and find a way to join us Monday evening (followed by Tuesday if necessary) at 6:30 p.m. in the high school gymnasium. Come for the whole evening or stop in for however long you can. We realize how busy we all are this time of year and these changes are aimed at increasing the efficiency of the meeting. Monday evening we will be making several important decisions regarding the town and its finances and the more participation the better!
I hope to see you there!
Sarah Wilkinson is chairman of the Rockport Board of Selectmen.