Richmond town officials are mulling when to hold a townwide vote to determine whether residents want to explore leaving Regional School Unit 2.

After some discussion at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting about the options, the decision on a date for the vote may come at the Dec. 16 meeting.

A petition bearing 165 signatures of Richmond voters submitted to the town in November obligates the selectmen to draft a warrant article asking whether residents want to explore the option of leaving the school district and to set a budget for that work. Town residents will have the opportunity to weigh in at a special election.

Town Manager Adam Garland suggested having the vote March 3 at Monday’s meeting.

That’s the date for the presidential primary as well as a statewide people’s veto referendum on whether to overturn the state law that lifts religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccinations. It is also, he said, an election at which voters are expected to turn out.

But board members said they wanted to consider other options.

“Are we obligated, where the petition has been validated and so forth, to put it on the next opportunity in March?” Selectman Randy Bodge said.

Garland said he thought so, but he could get an opinion from the town attorney about using a different date.

Selectman Andrew Alexander said he’d prefer not to have this townwide referendum tied to a party primary.

“My ultimate choice would be, if we could, to have it during the referendum/validation vote during June,” he said.

Richmond officials are also going to consider renewing the town’s Tax Increment Financing district, and that vote could also be set for March, Garland said.

“One of the arguments I would make, is that I daresay at this primary you are going to have 500 people show up and vote,” Garland said. “At the annual Town Meeting, how many people did we have show up and vote, 65, 70? I understand the argument, but I am trying to think up a way to have more people vote.”

He said he would check to see whether town officials can wait that long; if not, he’ll prepare a warrant for consideration to start the process of getting it on a ballot.

Even as town officials consider the date for the vote, one town resident is taking issue with the petition itself.

In a letter to town officials, Jon Doyle, an attorney, said the petition is flawed in part because the number of residents’ required for the petition to be considered must be 10% of the voters who cast a vote in the last gubernatorial election, not simply 10% of the total voters in the last gubernatorial election.

Garland said the town’s attorney has reviewed the letter and has determined Doyle’s interpretation is not correct.

But Doyle said Thursday he thinks his letter and his interpretation are correct.

“If necessary, I’ll go to court to prove it,” he said.

If town residents vote to explore withdrawing, that’s just one more step in a 22-step process that is spelled out in state law. The next task would be for the Board of Selectmen to appoint a withdrawal committee to explore how withdrawing from the district could happen.

RSU 2 encompasses Richmond, Monmouth, Dresden, Farmingdale and Hallowell.

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