Error in article causes stir at Marblehead Town Meeting

Article 8 caused quite a stir during the first night of the annual Town Meeting, held at Veterans Middle School Monday night, after an amendment was made to fix an error in the article’s text regarding the amount of money that can be spent on a new revolving fund. 

Article 8 sought to fix the maximum amount that could be spent for fiscal year 2024, beginning July 1, 2023, for revolving funds established in town bylaws for certain departments, boards, committees, agencies, or officers. In addition, the article sought a vote to make an amendment to General Bylaws Section 63-9 by adding Subsection 13, which would create a School Department Transportation Revolving Fund for use by the School Committee. 

Confusion arose after it was revealed that the maximum amount of $500,000 to spend on the fund, as written in the article, should have been listed as $20,000. Many residents wondered how such an error found its way into the warrant, which then snowballed into a number of questions regarding finances of other revolving funds, including those for special education and transfer station services. 

The School Committee would be able to use money from the fund for expenses directly related to the pay-to-ride bus program commencing in FY24. The program provides transportation for students attending Marblehead elementary schools who live more than two miles from the school they attend. 

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Michelle Cresta attempted to clear up any confusions about the fund and program. She said that the program did not include special education students, and that a discussion regarding the Special Education Stabilization Account will happen later in the meeting. 

The vote on Article 8 was delayed as a number of residents stepped up to the microphone to have questions answered. During the discussion, an amendment was drafted to the article, fixing the maximum budget for the fund from $500,000 to the correct amount of $20,000. After a long discussion, the article ultimately passed and the meeting moved on as scheduled. 

On Monday, 27 articles were voted on and passed. Among these was Article 24, which involved amending the general bylaws to allow for the creation of a new Human Resources Department. It was passed after a lengthy discussion. Articles 4, 12, and 27 were indefinitely postponed. 

Town Meeting continued for a second night Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Middle School auditorium.