Montague special town meeting postponed

TURNERS FALLS — Illustrating the difficulty of gathering a group for the business of government, a special town meeting scheduled, in part, to address a town committee’s quorum woes itself failed to reach a quorum.

Sixty-three voting members gathered in Turners Falls High School Thursday evening, waiting half an hour before moderator Raymond Godin announced the body had failed to reach the minimum and the meeting would be postponed to an as yet undetermined place and time.

The meeting fell below the legal threshold to vote by one member.

Godin said he has heard of it elsewhere but has never seen a Montague town meeting fail to reach quorum, with at least 12 years as moderator and six or seven as a town meeting member prior to that.

Town Administrator Frank Abbondanzio agreed this was a first in his combined 33 years as an administrator in two towns. All but five years were in Montague.

Abbondanzio said there were a lot of excused absences, so organizers knew it was going to be close but not impossible.

Among the 19 mostly financial items on the evening’s agenda was a vote to reduce the membership of the Finance Committee to help that body reach a quorum.

Typically, a quorum is one half the voting body plus one.

With the bare minimum to conduct business until a resignation in October left it with only four members, the Finance Committee was for a time unable to conduct business until the recent addition of new member Sharon Kennaugh.

Montague’s town meetings are representative, meaning that only elected town meeting members may vote. Residents may attend and registered voters may address the meeting, but neither may vote and do not count toward a quorum.

Town Clerk Debra Bourbeau said town meeting members currently count 115 of a possible 126. Eighteen seats are up for election this year in the May 20 election. Nomination papers are currently available from the town clerk’s office.

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