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Changes for terms of office denied by residents at Special Town Meeting

Date: 10/30/2014

EAST LONGMEADOW – Residents at the Special Town Meeting on Oct. 27 unanimously denied two articles related to amendments for the terms of office for the Board of Selectmen and School Committee members.

William Fonseca, a member of the School Committee, said Article 8 consisted of changing the committee terms to begin July 1 at the beginning of the fiscal year. The existing terms for committee members are for three years with terms beginning after elections in April.

“Say someone from the School Committee is running for re-election and is defeated overwhelmingly for the polices they had pushed during their tenure,” Larry Levine, a resident of Parker Street, said. “You’re therefore allowing a candidate who lost the re-election bid to remain in office for two and a half months.”

Resident Christine Saulnier said she thinks changing the terms for both the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee is a “piecemeal approach” to town government.

“We have other elected boards; the Board of Public Works, the Planning Board, [and] the Board of Assessors,” she added. “And I feel that if there’s going to be a change like this it should be done town wide through the bylaws and not article by article, here and there, in the course of a year or two years.”

Selectman Angela Thorpe said both Articles 8 and 9 were designed to allow municipal boards to have a “fresh start” in terms of understanding town fiscal information by changing the term’s start to coincide with the beginning of the fiscal year. Article 9 addressed the Board of Selectmen’s terms.

Articles 1 through 4 were tabled from the Special Town Meeting because they dealt with appropriations, Board of Selectmen Chair Paul Federici said. The articles will likely be revisited during the 2015 Annual Town Meeting in the spring.

Article 1 addressed the appropriation of funds to cleanup nuisance properties, while Article 2 focused on an appropriation and or transfer of funds for the animal control officer stipend. Article 3 addressed the appropriation of funds for the contract of a benefits administration manager. Article 4 called for a sum of money to fund the contract of Town Accountant Sara Menard.

Article 10, which was sponsored by the Board of Public Works to authorize an easement for the transmission of National Grid electricity to Meadow Brook School, also saw no action.

Residents voted to approve Article 11, which Board of Public Works Chair Thomas Wilson Jr. said focused on an easement for the transmission of electricity to the Department of Public Works Service Area. Residents approved the article by a two-thirds majority vote.

Articles 5 and 6 were also approved by residents and included the re-appropriation of $25,000 in Community Preservation Fund money from the new Pine Knoll Recreation Area pool, which was constructed for less than was anticipated.

Article 5 addressed $5,670 in excess funds for fencing the historic Greenlawn Cemetery and Article 6 dealt with $120 in additional funds for heating, vent, and lighting improvements at Inward Commons.

Article 12 was approved by residents and sponsored by the Planning Board. The article dealt with amendments to the town’s 1991 bylaw revision in regards to sign usage.

Bob Hildreth, a resident of Susan Street, asked whether the article would add any additional duties for town boards or municipal employees.

“Nothing before the town meeting this evening doesn’t already exist,” Moderator Jim Sheils, added. “There are no new duties being proposed. This is just simply relocating from within the existing sign by-law to make each district more [specific about] what is allowed in a particular district.”