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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Legalities In Lincoln

The annual town reports came out late this year in Lincoln - only three days before Town Meeting Day. As it turns out, that has caused  lot of hassle.

At first, town officials feared the problem meant the annual town meeting had not been properly warned, putting the town out of compliance with Vermont's open meeting law. But after consultation with the secretary of state's office, town officials were assured town meeting could go ahead as planned, so long as Lincoln held a separately warned "validation meeting" where voters would ratify Town Meeting Day results.

Such a meeting was set and warned for May 13. However, since that time the town has discovered a validation meeting may not be such a good idea, according to an explanation on the town website:

Since that time, both the Select board and the School Board have been advised by counsel and the secretary of state's office that such a special town meeting is not necessary and would have questionable legal standing. A published town report is not considered a requirement for town meeting, as long as public notice of the warning has been made no less than 5 days in advance in a newspaper of general circulation. It has been determined that the annual Lincoln town and school district meetings were in fact properly warned as required by law. Relevant information was also available at the town office and on the town website, prior to March 4th.

Instead of a town-wide validation meeting, the town select board and school board will vote to ratify actions taken at town meeting. According to the town counsel, a two-thirds majority of the governing board is needed for ratification and the vote should take place at a regularly scheduled meeting.

The Select board has canceled the May 13 town meeting and will consider validation at its regularly scheduled meeting on May 21 at the Town Office. The Lincoln School Board will consider validation at its regularly scheduled meeting on May 20 at the Lincoln Community School.

To further complicate the matter, one of the actions taken at town meeting was a vote to increase the size of the select board from three to five members. Although that vote has yet to be ratified, a petition to rescind has already been filed and a special town meeting has been scheduled next Tuesday evening at 7:30 to address that question.

If the action is upheld, Lincoln voters will return to the polls on May 14 to cast ballots for two additional select board members to serve through Town Meeting Day next year. That means, if two new selectmen are elected, at their first meeting on May 21 they will address the question of ratifying the vote that created their seats.