Members present: Mary Ann Clarkson, Gloria Cristelli, Ellen Darrow, Sandra Dowley, Marion Dowling, Rosalind Fritz, Todd Lawley, Richard Marek, and Greg Record; late in joining, Priscilla Cotton
Members absent: Robert Crego, Michael Fitzpatrick and Carol Hatcher
Richard Marek, previous vice-chair, called the meeting to order at 6:04 p.m.
Gloria Cristelli discussed the need for the BCA to update the voter checklist by the middle of September. She gave each BCA member a copy of all voters that had been added and purged from September 1, 2013 through April 21, 2015, as well as a current voter checklist as of April 27, 2015. She explained that a voter’s name may be on two or even all three of the lists as that voter may have left Newfane and then returned. She asked that the BCA review the checklists, and if anyone spots something that he/she knows to be an error—or knows if someone on the current list has moved, changed address, etc. to please indicate it on the appropriate sheets and return them to her by the middle of May.
Gloria also explained that the Secretary of State’s office has made a mandatory requirement for all town clerks to take three and a half days of training provided by the Elections Division office to learn the new software that is taking the place of the current Help America Vote Act (HAVA). This new software is being rolled out concurrent with the legislation that will allow someone to register to vote on the day of the election.
Priscilla Cotton joined the meeting at 6:35 p.m. Richard turned the meeting over to her. Gloria nominated Priscilla Cotton as chair of the BCA. As there were no other nominations, she was elected unanimously. Mary Ann nominated Richard Marek as vice-chair. As there were no other nominations, he was elected unanimously.
The Chair began an overview of the responsibilities of the BCA in relationship to both tax appeals and oversight of elections. She clarified the membership of the Board of Civil Authority and the Board of Abatement, as well as assured new members that they are, in fact, by virtue of having been elected to the Selectboard, members of the BCA and BoA. Richard outlined the procedure of tax appeals. Each member was encouraged to download a copy of A Handbook of Tax Appeals, from the Secretary of State’s website. They were encouraged also to take a training provided by VLCT, sessions both May 5th and May 12th.
The Chair introduced the topic of the BCA setting the polling place for Town Meeting at NewBrook Elementary School. Gloria had talked with JP in the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office when she checked on a possible necessity of changing the venue of the last Town Meeting. JP said that the balloting would have to continue at the place warned unless there was a life-threatening situation (flooding, for example). The Town Meeting could be changed as long as the Elections Division was notified as soon as possible. JP stated that it is under the purview of the BCA to choose the venue—and not up to the voters.
Discussion ensued with acknowledgement that voters who were able to attend town meetings in the two designated historic buildings indicated that they want to maintain the tradition of using the halls. It was noted that the elderly often cannot or will not attend town meeting at the halls because of the lack of parking, often icy conditions, fear of falling, and the cold, especially in Williamsville Hall. It was noted, too, that holding town meeting in the two halls costs the taxpayers at least $800 if not more per year to say nothing about the plowing, opening the halls up for water, and cleaning.
In a round robin activity for each BCA member to indicate his/her opinions, issues came forth: (1) having had voters vote on the venue, and the strong feeling of some voters to maintain the tradition, the BCA should respect their vote, (2) the legal obligation of having telephone access for visually handicapped individuals, (3) the need for internet access, especially if the legislature passes the bill allowing individuals to register the same day as the vote.
Out of these concerns, suggestions were proffered to solve what might be considered problems: (1) See if the town can have a telephone company install a telephone line and internet for the one day of town meeting and to check the cost, (2) find out how other towns are handling the “problem” of phone and internet, (3) check with the Secretary of State’s office about the legal aspects/State and Federal laws; i.e. do we have to have a telephone?
Several members suggested that the BCA send out a questionnaire polling all the legal voters of their preference for the venue of town meeting. Richard emphasized that much care would have to be taken in the wording of the questionnaire.
Before doing anything with a questionnaire, the BCA concluded that we need to get the facts lined up first. Priscilla and Gloria will get together to call the Secretary of State’s office and check on one-day land line telephone and internet.
The meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by,
Gloria J. Cristelli
Town Clerk/BCA recorder