It’s Town Meeting time, when citizens are called to gather on the field in front of the Bromfield School and library at noon Saturday, May 14, to consider and approve 32 articles, including a $32 million omnibus budget, 12 requests for capital spending, and a dozen Community Preservation Committee-recommended projects.
It’s the sixth Town Meeting to be held during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fifth in this century to be held outdoors—under tents and on the grass. And it’s the third time the moderator will split what was formerly a one-session Annual Town Meeting into two, with a second session to follow in the fall.
Inside this issue of the Press you’ll find some tools to help you participate in this year’s proceedings. Start with our Guide to Town Meeting, with its handy map, and read it to plan your day. Then turn to our Warrant in Plain English for a concise but insightful look at every item on the agenda. We can now call it our “award-winning” Warrant in Plain English, having won first place among small weeklies for our 2021 edition. And if, during the meeting, an unfamiliar term is uttered, look it up in our Glossary of municipal lingo. We’ve even included an analysis of the fiscal 2023 budget that we hope explains how the more than two dozen financial articles presented in the warrant booklet work together to pay for the people and services that make Harvard such a special place.
Many habitual town meeting attendees bring a copy of this week’s special edition of the Press to Town Meeting along with snacks, sun and rain protection, and, if COVID-19 contagion remains a concern, a mask. Warrant booklets were not mailed to residents this year, but they’re available when you check in. Be sure to take a copy; Press and warrant are meant to go together, like hand and glove.
Harvard is a direct democracy, a rarity in our time, and Town Meeting is the town’s legislature. As an attendee, you help decide what happens next in your hometown. Your voice and vote count. And in a world tilting toward more centralized, less representative governance, that’s a right and a privilege.