TOPSHAM — Topsham officials plan to move the May 20 annual town meeting to June 17 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Postponing the town meeting isn’t expected the change the budget at this point, Town Manager Derek Scrapchansky said.

Topsham selectmen chairman David Douglass said Monday that while selectmen’s proposed 2020-21 budget hasn’t been finalized, its current proposed spending plan isn’t expected to increase the tax rate. Douglass said it is possible the coronavirus health crisis could impact the budget, though selectmen haven’t had a chance yet to meet to discuss those impacts.

A lot of the potential financial impact depends on how long the spread of the virus continues, he said. Selectmen will continue to assess its revenue projections between now and the June town meeting.

“This is going to be unchartered waters,” he said.

Scrapchansky said the delay gives staff time to investigate alternatives in case it still isn’t safe to have a public meeting on June 17.

Selectmen plan to meet through video conferencing Thursday night to vote on rescheduling the town meeting. A recording of that meeting will be posted on the town website. It will be the first meeting selectmen have met remotely.

Scrapchansky said the town on a way to broadcast the meeting live over the town’s local TV station. He expects other town committee meetings, no longer taking place in-person, will be meeting online as well.

Scrapchansky said the town is looking at holding online budget hearings in a way to maximize public input. By delaying town meeting, “we’re able to investigate further,” he said.

Scrapchansky said the state is allowing towns that can’t hold a town meeting to approve a new budget before the end of the current fiscal year to operate on the current budget until a meeting can be held. The fiscal year ends June 30.

 

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