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Annual Town Meeting to Extend into June

A month-long "Spring break" in legislative body's gathering will allow for more precise financial figures.

The annual Belmont Town Meeting has long been a springtime tradition, coming with the cool April showers and the return of the leaves on the trees.

But this coming year, the 290 representatives could be wearing their summer outfits and flip-flops to the yearly gathering as the town's legislative body is tentatively taking the month of May off.

Town Administrator Dave Kale announced Monday, Nov. 5 at the Board of Selectmen meeting that the 2013 Town Meeting will likely adjourn for five weeks between dealing with non-financial matters and reviewing and approving the town budgets.

Kale said the tentative calendar which he is working with the Warrant Committee to construct calls for Town Meeting to open on April 29 then going on hiatus until June 3 and 5 to take up financial matters.

The reason for Town Meeting's "spring break," according to Kale, is to allow town departments and the schools more time to secure the most precise budget numbers to present to the Warrant Committee, which acts as Town Meeting's financial watchdog.

"It will allow us to have firmer numbers on our health and pension costs," said Kale, who said town budgets will be provided to the Warrant Committee on Feb. 11, about a month later than in past years.

In addition, a June date will provide the town with "final" financial amounts coming from state government. Kale said in the past, Town Meeting would use tentative figures for town and school aid as the Governor's budget would not be approved by the state legislature until well past Town Meeting had adjourned.

"This is a good schedule. We can go into the budgets in detail and have reports from the Warrant Committee ready for Town Meeting," said Kale.

Kale said that while it would be more advantagous to allow Town Meeting to take up both non-financial matters – such as the expected article calling for the transformation of the Board of Selectmen into a five-member "policy" board – and the budgets in the same week, a town bylaw requires the body to convine in the final week of April.

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