EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 10, 2014

Voter challenges Pelham decision

Town Meeting

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — PELHAM — Budget Committee member Leo Rush is calling for an official review of a town deliberative session decision to zero out his budget cutting-proposal.

But Pelham isn’t the National Football League and this review won’t happen.

Rush, in a letter to selectmen, asked them to direct moderator Phil Currier to review his decision allowing the action.

Rush, through a citizen petition, had proposed a 5 percent cut to the town budget, amounting to more than $600,000.

But voters at the deliberative session on Feb. 4 acted to reduce the proposed cut to zero. It was approved, without debate, by a show of hands.

Rush maintains the decision represents such a significant change in the article as to render the question invalid under state law.

Voters at deliberative session should only be allowed to make minor changes in text, Rush told selectmen.

But selectmen, who unanimously opposed Rush’s budget cut during discussion at a meeting last month, disagreed.

In a special meeting Friday, the board decided to send Rush a letter, pointing him to state law they say allows voters to reduce warrant articles in value.

“The letter from Leo Rush deserves a response,” Selectmen’s Chairman Ed Gleason said.

The board agreed with Gleason.

Selectmen also stressed they didn’t initiate the effort by voters to reduce the budget-cutting warrant article.

Rush first proposed the idea in the Budget Committee, where it was voted down, 10-1. Rush was the one.

Rush hasn’t made specific department cuts part of his campaign, but has said he believes Pelham is spending too much.

He said he had no trouble getting signatures for the citizen petition article.

The article will remain on the ballot for the March 11 vote at Town Meeting, though it is essentially meaningless.

Selectmen, though they opposed Rush’s article as originally submitted, will now formally put it to voters “without recommendation.”