Beyond the politics of Town Meeting and the ritual of gathering with fellow townspeople to pass budgets and elect town officials, there is the simple and certain pleasure of opening the annual Town Meeting Report.
Call us nerds, but we know we're not alone in taking time to thoroughly read the Town Report. First, there's the cover picture and the dedication. Those are two important parts of the report that set the tone for the meeting.
And the reports! It's a report that is full of reports. There are the official reports of the select boards and planning commissions, but then there are all the other reports, such as Mad River Valley Ambulance Service and the fire department, Mad River Valley Recreation District and Mad River Valley Senior Citizens. It's fun to know what aspects of each group or organization's work they feel are important to share with their constituents.
The charts that show how many zoning permits have been issued and for what types of projects are always interesting and it's great to read the minutes of last year's Town Meeting and recall the discussions, the votes and the tone of the meeting.
And we're not going to pretend we don't read the list of delinquent taxpayers from start to finish. We also enjoy reading about the weddings and the births and we make sure to read the list of deaths.
The school performance stats are illuminating and the pictures that accompany the school reports are entertaining.
The town and school budgets are less entertaining, but must be read – that's more of a duty than a pleasure.
The articles that make up the warning are the meat and potatoes of Town Meeting Day and it's fun to peruse them and ponder which ones will be passed easily and which ones will result in lengthy discussions, calls for a ballot vote, amendments and standing up to vote.
Town Meeting this year is March 3. Grab your report, read it cover to cover and get ready for the big day.