03/09/00 15:23 PETRUCCELLI & MARTIN
To: Limington Board of Selectmen
From: James B. Haddow, Esq.
Date: March 9, 2000
Subject: Planning Board Budget Warrant Article
As you know, Herbert Ramsdell spoke to me on Tuesday about events surrounding the treatment of the Warrant Article dealing with the Planning Board's F.Y. 2000 budget appropriation. My understanding is that, when the Article came up during the March 4 Town Meeting, one of the participants proposed an amendment from the floor. While I do not know the precise words of the proposed amendment, I gather that its substance was to appropriate to the Planning Board $600.00 less than the amount that had been requested by the Planning Board and recommended by the Budget Committee and the Municipal Officers, and to appropriate $600.00 to the Saco River Corridor Commission. I also understand that there was no Warrant Article proposing any appropriation to the Saco River Corridor Commission. I am told that the amendment carried, and the Article was passed as amended. I also understand that the Municipal Legislative Body has adopted, as it rules of parliamentary procedure, Roberts' Rules of Order, but I do not know which edition. I want to emphasize that I have made no independent effort to determine the accuracy of any of this information.
Based on the facts as I understand them, regardless of what edition of Roberts' Rules governs, the amendment was improper. It would clearly have been proper to amend the Article to reduce the amount of the appropriation to the Planning Board; however, an amendment with the effect of appropriating funds to any entity other than the Planning Board, especially an entity outside the Town government, would be non-germane and therefore out of order. The fact that there was nowhere in the Town Warrant any suggestion that the appropriation of funds to the Saco River Corridor Commission would be under consideration further supports this conclusion. Although the Moderator apparently failed to rule the amendment out of order, that failure does not cure the defect.
It the vote were challenged legally, the result, in my opinion, would be one of two things: either the entire Article, as amended, would be deemed invalid (in which case the Planning Board has no budget for F.Y. 2000) or the reduced appropriation to the Planning Board would stand, but the $600.00 appropriation to the Saco River Corridor Commission would be deemed invalid. I am not sure yet which of these is the more likely outcome. I am also not sure yet whether the Municipal Officers can decide on their own to treat the vote as invalid, or whether they would have to treat it as valid until someone challenged it successfully in court.
Please let me know what further work you would like me to do on this issue.
Return to the March 9, 2000 Limington Free Press
Note: This memorandum is taken from the public record
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