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Marion Election and Meeting Results

Marion Special Town Meeting

October 30, 2006

By Kenneth J. Souza

A Special Town Meeting for the Town of Marion was called to order by Acting Town Clerk Ray Pickles at 7:00 pm in the auditorium of Sippican School having noted the presence of a quorum of some 100 registered voters. Due to the unexpected absence of regular Town Moderator David B. Titus, Town Meeting voters nominated and elected William Saltonstall to serve as Temporary Town Moderator for this meeting.

Voters were first ask to consider ARTICLE S1, which requested an appropriation of $164,844 to cover transportation costs for the ORR Junior and Senior High Schools within the Fiscal Year 2007 budget.

"Several years ago when we did the school transportation, we did it in a way that bidders would bid on individual towns (in the ORR district) ... and this worked out very well," said ORR School Superintendent Dr. William Cooper. "The cost of the elementary transportation is in the elementary school budget (which has) already been passed. But the cost of the ORR (Junior and Senior High Schools) transportation is not in the budget. So what we have is a situation where the revenue has been booked for FY '07, but the expense is not in the budget. The reason for the confusion is we were told not to put the transportation costs into the ORR budget."

"Just for clarification, there's no additional out-of-pocket expense (here) to the town," said ORR School Committee Chairman Robert Nectow. "It's just a book-keeping (matter)."

With that, ARTICLE S1 passed unanimously.

Under ARTICLE S2, voters were asked to transfer $39,764 from the Waterways Improvement Fund for the purpose of purchasing and equipping two trucks for the Marine Resources Department.

According to Selectman Jonathan Henry, the two trucks currently in use by the Marine Resources Department are in bad need of replacement and/or repair, and this is the most cost-effective solution at the moment. "The turkey carcass will only go so far after Thanksgiving before it's time to throw it out," Selectman Henry said. "That's the situation we find ourselves in."

ARTICLE S2 passed unanimously.

Under ARTICLE S3, voters were asked to transfer $162,425 from the insurance reimbursement proceeds for the purpose of purchasing, equipping and repairing a suitable used Fire Department vehicle.

"Shortly after purchasing a used Fire Department ladder truck earlier this year, the vehicle caught fire and was declared a total loss by our insurance company," said Selectman Roger Blanchette. "Our insurance carrier sent us a check for $162,425 ... which, incidentally, is only $300 less than what we paid for the vehicle."

ARTICLE S3 passed unanimously.

Under ARTICLE S4, voters were asked to accept the report of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) and approve a budget for Community Preservation Act (CPA) projects for Fiscal Year 2007.

"The Town of Marion adopted a two-percent CPA tax surcharge in May 2005," said CPC Chairman Loretta Schaefer. "This money is earmarked for open space, historic preservation, community housing, and unallocated expenses."

Ms. Schaefer noted the CPC is required by state statute to develop and publish a Community Preservation Plan for the Town of Marion, initiate a CPA warrant article with funding recommendations via Town Meeting, and allocate 10 percent of their funds each year to create, acquire and preserve open space annually.

"There are two words we need to get clear in our heads," Ms. Schaefer said. "The first is 'appropriation,' which is the funding of specific projects; the other is 'allocation,' which reserves funding for specific categories."

As such, Ms. Schaefer noted the CPC is recommending the following allocations be approved by Town Meeting voters under this article:

* $299,001 for the Marion Land Bank (Open Space);

* $59,800 to the Marion Affordable Housing Trust and $144,311 for future projects (Community Housing);

* $75,000 to be reserved for future Historic Resources;

* No recommendation for Public Recreation; and

* $19,890 to cover CPA/CPC Administrative Expenses, which is allowed under state law.

Article S4 passed unanimously.

Since Article S4 passed, voters unanimously voted to "pass over" ARTICLE S5, which would have approved an alternate budget for the Community Preservation Committee.

Under ARTICLE S6, voters were asked to transfer the sum of $5,515 from the remaining appropriation in Article 15 of the 2000 Annual Town Meeting (said original appropriation having been for use by the Elderly Housing Committee to hire architects and engineers for a feasibility study and conceptual plans for expanding Littleneck Village) to be used now by the Marion Affordable Housing Trust for purposes relative to Littleneck Village.

Article S6 passed unanimously.

Under ARTICLE S7, voters were asked to authorize the donation of the 1955 Maxim Aerial Ladder Truck back to the Wareham Fire District.

"The 1955 Maxim Ladder Truck was gifted to the Town of Marion in 1990," said Selectman Roger Blanchette. "Since the Wareham Fire District is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, they have requested the (apparatus) be returned to be put on display."

With that, Article S7 passed unanimously.

Under ARTICLE S8, voters were asked to accept the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59, Section 5, Clause 41C, as amended by Chapter 184, Section 51 of the Acts of 2002, and pursuant to the provisions of said Act, vote to set the exemption permitted to the maximum, and further, to adjust the income and asset limitations as follows: Increase Gross Receipts to the maximum allowable of $20,000 if single and $30,000 if married; and Increase the Whole Estate Limit to the maximum allowable of $40,000 if single and $55,000 if married; said adjusted exemption amount and eligibility factors to become effective in Fiscal Year 2007.

Article S8 passed unanimously.

Under ARTICLE S9, voters were asked to authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell for the sum of $127,000 an easement on a certain parcel of land identified as lots 10 and 11 on Marion Assessors' Plan 26, also known as the "Goldovitz Bog," to the Credit Commodity Corporation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said easement to be a permanent conservation easement under the USDA Wetlands Reserve Program.

Article S9 passed unanimously.

Under ARTICLE S10, voters were asked to have the elected position of Town Clerk become an appointed position of Town Clerk of the Town of Marion, subject to acceptance at the next annual election.

"In many of the towns throughout Massachusetts as (Town Clerks) have retired and changed jobs, these positions have been converted from elected to appointed," said Selectman Jonathan Henry. "We can develop and post job qualifications for full-time people ... it is our feeling it is wise to stovepipe this position under the administrative (structure) of Town Hall."

"Normally I don't like seeing an elected position become appointed, but I think we have to realize it's going to be difficult to find someone as qualified as our last (Town Clerk)," said resident Kay Reis.

"I find it very hard to believe that the Town of Marion doesn't have someone qualified to run for this office," said former Town Clerk Helen Westergard. "I don't like seeing the (voters) lose their choice to elect a Town Clerk."

"My feeling is when it comes to changing a position from elected to appointed, there has to be a very compelling reason to (make the change), and I haven't heard it (here)," said resident Tom Magauran. "I also think something like this should (be considered at an) Annual Town Meeting ... which would be better-attended."

"It appears we don't really know if we have qualified candidates or not (from town) because we haven't looked for any," agreed resident Peter Winters. "I think we're kind of manipulating the process here and I think it would be best to wait for the Annual Town Meeting."

"It seems to me we have been incredibly lucky in this town," said Kay Reis. "The state requirements are becoming more demanding every year ... and we can't expect the electorate to pick qualified people for these positions anymore."

After a motion to "move the question" passed, Article S10 was defeated, 60 to 41.

Under ARTICLE S11, voters were similarly asked to have the elected positions of Treasurer and Town Collector become a combined appointed position of Town Treasurer/Collector of the Town of Marion, subject to acceptance at the annual election.

"I think the position of Treasurer/Collector is one that has changed dramatically over the last 10 to 20 years," said Selectman Andrew Jeffrey. "While I'm not going to argue that you can attend courses (as Town Clerk), you need a great deal more experience and expertise as Treasurer/Collector."

"The positions of Treasurer and Collector are critical to the town's finances," said Acting Treasurer/Collector Loretta Schaefer. "These positions over the years have grown in complexity. This is not a position where one should get 'on the job' training. With the resignation of (longtime Clerk/Treasurer/Collector) Debra Blanchette, we have an opportunity to ... hire someone with experience in municipal finances."

After a motion to "move the question" passed, Article S11 passed via majority vote.

There being no further articles to consider, the Special Town Meeting was adjourned at 8:32 pm.