HOLDEN, Mass. — Holden Selectman Mark Ferguson turned his chair backward and left the selectmen's meeting Monday night in protest after making an impassioned speech about the school district's failure to present the town with a copy of its budget.
Ferguson's comments came before School Committee Chairman Duncan Leith, who was at the podium Monday to provide his regular district updates to the board.
"I want to protest the fact that the Wachusett Regional School District is being allowed podium time before the Holden Board of Selectmen, when frankly, they are not in good standing," said Ferguson. In an attempt to get a copy of the district budget, the town "was asked to pay some $2,300 for some 7,666 pages," he said.
The administration has been tied up in correspondence trying to get the budget, Ferguson said, and still does not have a copy.
"This town deserves to have a copy of that budget, and it should have it on an annual basis," he said. The town makes its own budget available and puts it on file at the Gale Free Library every year, he said.
"I can't sit here in good conscience and pretend for a second that there is some goodwill from the school committee to the Board of Selectman," he added, saying that without a copy he would turn his chair and exit the room.
Leith, who was criticized by members of selectboards at a recent regional meeting on the district budget, left after Ferguson's speech.
"I don't need to be treated this by another elected official in the Town of Holden," Leith said before stepping down from the podium. "If you don't want to hear our reports, I'm fine with leaving this meeting. Our (School Committee) meetings are held on the second and fourth Monday of the month, and full reports are sent to the town manager's office."
Ferguson's remarks were his own and did not reflect the majority of the board, Selectboard Chairman Anthony Renzoni said.
"The selectboard has appreciated the relationship with Leith over the last year," Renzoni said, adding that he appreciated his continued willingness to attend meetings to answer questions.
Ferguson's remarks were uncalled for, Selectman Ken Lipka said, and he was embarrassed by them.
"It's incumbent upon us to let people speak, and say what the facts are, regardless of how we feel."