Town Elections and What the Heck is a Warrant Article?

With Town elections coming up, I thought I would write quick blog on the importance of voting at the local level. I am sure some of you reading this will be very accustomed to this, but many many never come to annual town elections. When is election day? Great question - March 9th Town Election will be held at the Hudson Community Center, 12 Lions Ave. Polling hours are 7:00am-8:00pm.You can find more information here.

What will you be voting on? Another great question, you will be voting on several positions on the Board of Selectmen, you can vote for up to two. You will also have opportunity for Town Clerk/Tax Collector, Budget Committee, Cemetery Trustee, Code of Ethics, Library Trustee, and Trustee of the Trust Fund. Important roles in the town, and note that you do have an option to write a candidate in. You can find a sample ballot at this link here. But you say, "Bill, you haven't gotten to the warrant articles! What is a warrant article?" Warrant Articles - The warrant notifies the voters of the nature of the business that is being proposed. It is the agenda item that the votes to adopt or reject. In my opinion, clearly one of the most important votes you can make at a town level that can directly impact you and your community.

Take time to read the warrant articles ahead of the vote! Let us explore the first warrant article: Warrant Article 02 - Article 02 is asking if you are in favor of the adopting of the amendment to the Town Zoning Ordinance as proposed by the planning board as follows? Amend Article II Terminology Section 334-6 Definitions to amend the definitions of the terms Building Setback, Building Line, Building, Principle Building, and Accessory Building. Did that get you confused? It got me confused! So it is asking you to approve an amendment, but the amended language isn't spelled out in the article. So I see a blank check without further clarification. You might want to contact the planning board to define what those changes may be. Kind of like a contract, how can you vote to approve something without knowing what you are approving? Hope the town has a better description on the actual ballot. But you say "Keep this a short PLEASE!" Ok, I agree your time is important, let us just let us explore a few of the twenty articles on the ballot. Warrant Article 03 - Police Facility Expansion and Renovation: This is written much better, with a description asking the town to vote on approving $4,800,000 for expansion to the police department and authorizing the board to issue, negotiate and sell bonds. A convenient tax rate impact is also provided. Pretty modest in my opinion. Article 04 - General Fund Operating Budget: This has the most impact on tax rates, to increase the operating budget from ~30.5M USD to $31.25M USD, with a tax rate impact of $6.72. That is a bit bigger, so you might want to read into that more. There are several others that I found intriguing. Article 11 - Fire Apparatus Refurbishment/Repair Capital Reserve Funding:

It is small change, and for transparency, only looking for refurbishment and repairs to existing equipment. Looking forward (and to be clear, it would be a distinctly different warrant article) if the Hudson Logistics Center were to be approved, the town might be looking for a larger ladder truck for better access the roof tops. It isn't the 50 foot building height, but building depth that might be a problem for the current equipment. If a air handling unit were to become and issue, for instance located at the center of the roof, the sheer depth of the HLC buildings might be quite problematic and next year we might be voting on a new much larger ladder truck and the costs associated. Articles 20-22 - By Petition:

These petitions are added by petition. So fellow townsfolks, by petition, had these articles added to the ballot. I will not be passing judgement on these, but do recommend that the gentle reader review the articles and as they are all $0.00 tax impact, perhaps inquire of the Board of Selectmen or open discussions with other town residents what the advantages / disadvantages of each article are and make a more educated position prior to going to the polls. So get out and vote and read the sample ballot in advance.

View the Hudson Women's Club Meet the Candidates Night Video here.