The south coast League of Women Voters hosted an afternoon for civic- minded voters in Mattapoisett. Kris Eastman of the LWV chaired the event. The agenda featured a presentation of the warrant articles for the upcoming annual Town Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 12 at 6:00 pm in the ORRHS auditorium, in addition to interviews with the two candidates vying for the Town Clerk position.
Presenting the warrant was Town Administration Michael Gagne, Town Moderator John Eklund, and Selectman Tyler Macallister. The crib notes from their presentation are as follows: Article 1: Elected Officers Compensation – has not been adjusted for 15 years and is asking the voters for an increase spread over the next three years; Article 2: General Operating Budget – details available on the town’s website; Article 3: OPEB Liability Funding – continuing to set aside funds to pay for retirement obligations known as post-employment benefits; Articles 4 and 5 – amendments to the stabilization fund for ORR assessment of $190,000 for Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical and Bristol County Agricultural High Schools in the event enrollment to those schools increases next year; Article 6: Revolving Fund Authorization – simple documentation correction; Article 7: GASB 45 audit fund – $7,500 to audit OPEB accounts; Article 8: Phase IV of roadways improvements in village area; Article 9: Capital Improvement Plan; Article 10: Capital improvement line items totaling $455,000 from which $175,900 are from levy funds, $100,000 from ambulance receipts, and $180,000 from capital improvement stabilization fund; Article 10: $15,000 Fire Engine, $35,000 Police cruiser, $7,000 repair library windows, $135,000 repair Fire Engine 4, $175,000 new police ambulance, $18,500 parking at Center School tennis courts, $21,000 playground improvements at Old Hammondtown and Center Schools, $10,000 repairs town beach raft, $17,400 bundle for various town equipment repairs and replacements, $22,000 completion of street and road sign project; Article 11: Property re-evaluation – $35,000; Article 12: Sick Leave Buyout – $10,000; Article 13: Zoning Map Change – numbering correction required by FEMA; Article 14: Storm Hazard Mitigation Solutions – $7,500; Articles 15 and 16: Allocation of Revenues Community Preservation Act – documentation correction and funding requests; Article 16: CPA – Bike Path engineering funds; Article 17: CPA – Nasketucket land purchase $50,000; Article 18: CPA – Pier renovations $49,000; Article 19: CPA – beach house repairs $50,000; Article 20: CPA – Center School Tot Lot $55,000; Article 21: CPA – Barlow Cemetery Fence replacement $3,672; Article 22: CPA – Historic records systems, Mattapoisett Historical Society; Articles 23 and 24: Reserve Funds – $20,000 for water and sewer department; Article 25: Water meter replacements – $250,000; Article 26: Amended agreement with Town of Fairhaven for increased waste water capacity; Article 27: $200,000 to fund additional waste water capacity; Article 28: Authority to sell property owned by the town to pay for new water and sewer consolidated offices located on Industrial Drive – parcels on Church Street and off Route 6 (inside the Bay Club); Article 29: $30,000 for new water and sewer department truck; Article 30: replacement of water main on Route 6 between Prospect and Aucoot Roads; Article 31: acceptance of land gift from YMCA for bike path; Article 32: Adoption of personnel schedule – 2% increase; Article 33: Bike Path language perfection for state and federal requirements; Article 34: language perfection for 1977 easement for bike path; Article 35: citizen petition for right to tie into sewer system if additional capacity is available.
Special Town Meeting Warrant contains two articles. Article 1 is for $35,000 for continued bike path funding, and Article 2 is for $10,000 reserve fund supplemental appropriation.
Eastman then directed the audience’s attention to video-taped interviews of the candidates seeking the only contested position on the May 20 ballot, that of town clerk. She noted that both candidates had been given the same list of questions in advance of the interview. Eastman herself interviewed Catherine Heuberger, while Bill Cantor interviewed Erika Osetkowski. When asked what qualified them for the position, both stressed their educational and professional backgrounds. Heuberger noted her nine years of service in Mattapoisett’s treasurer collector’s office and her ability to problem solve and assist residents in a thorough and knowledgeable manner. Presently, she holds the position of Principal Clerk. Osetkowski detailed her experience as an executive assistant in private industry and current position as head teller at a local bank. Heuberger holds an associate degree in Business Administration from Bristol Community College, while Osetkowski has a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State College in Business Management. They both felt that while there would be a significant learning curve, the State offered programs and training that would assist and support them during the transition period.
When asked what they would do should they be asked to do something that didn’t necessarily follow the rules, they both responded that they would be able to field such requests with integrity and support from the state ethics office. Heuberger was on hand to meet those in attendance. Osetkowski was unable to attend due to a family commitment.
Eastman said that the local chapter of the LWV covers the entire south coast region, has approximately 50 members (both men and women), and with the sale of advertising in the annual ‘Blue Book’ that serves the Tri-Town area, is able to fund grants for local schools. She said that last year, LWV gave out ten mini-grants of which Mattapoisett was the beneficiary of five. These grants allow the schools to secure materials focused on civic involvement in democratic societies. As John Eklund said, “…. [we need to] accept the responsibility of citizenship…” As the LWV bummer sticker reads, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”
By Marilou Newell