WILLIAMSTOWN — Residents hoping to overturn voters’ narrow approval of funding for a new public safety building last month didn’t wait until the last minute to submit a petition calling for a revote, but they did wait until the last day.
Armed with a petition demanding voters be given the opportunity to reverse their 298-283 approval on Town Meeting Day of the $2.5 million public safety building project, Normand Peloquin was waiting for Town Clerk Barbara Graham when she arrived for work Thursday morning.
According to Graham, there were 145 signatures on the petition, and while she tossed eight of them after consulting the checklist, she concluded 137 belonged to registered Williamstown voters.
That’s precisely the same number of valid signatures on a petition that earlier this week prompted the school board to warn a May revote involving funding for an after-school program. Voters narrowly rejected the $40,000 funding request, 298-274, on Town Meeting Day.
However, town officials have held out the possibility that more signatures — 10 percent, or 204, of the town’s registered voters — could be needed to force the reconsideration of the bond issue. Representatives of the secretary of state’s office and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns have both questioned that reading of the law, and the board was scheduled to discuss how to proceed late Thursday afternoon.
If the board decides to warn a revote, plans for a mid-April groundbreaking will be scrapped, pending the results of a special election that will almost certainly be held in conjunction with the special school election that is set for May 6.
Heading into Thursday’s meeting, board members had expressed fear that delays associated with a second vote could drive up the cost of the project. It is unclear whether Summit Catamount Construction of Berlin was prepared to honor its low bid of $2.06 million for the construction work beyond Saturday.
The project that voters approved contemplated construction of a building that would bring the town’s fire and ambulance departments under one energy-efficient roof, while providing some space for law enforcement. The new facility would be on town-owned property on Meadow Street.
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