September 28, 2021

Rehoboth Might Abandon Town Meetings

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Town Moderator William Cute warned the Board of Selectmen about the challenges of having future town meetings during the coronavirus pandemic. “As long as the issue of Covid is with us, we’ve got some very very difficult road to hoe,” Cute said Tuesday.

Last month, the Board cancelled the Fall Town Meeting, which had been scheduled for Saturday, November 13 at Francis Farm. The town had arranged to use three buildings and a tent to accommodate up to 700 residents due to Covid-19 social distancing requirements.

Selectman Michael Deignan had explained the cost to the town would be in excess of $100,000. That includes the tent rental, the heaters for the tent, the audiovisual connections, and the police details required to maintain the site.

One of the issues to have been decided was the de-regionalization of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District.  “I know that the K through 8 people are probably frustrated about this,” Cute said. “I’m frustrated about it.”

Cute suggested the town conduct an evaluation of “different options of governance that might be able for us to get our work done even in the age of Covid without the handicaps we’re dealing with now.” One possibility mentioned would be a switch to an RTM (representative town meeting).

Selectmen Chairman Skip Vadnais said the residents would be “reluctant” to abandon the traditional town meeting format which allows them to have a voice in town government. “To take that away from them would be my last option,” Vadnais added. “Let’s see what happens because we definitely have to have a (town) meeting in May.”

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