Cohasset Town Manager Amendment passes 223 Yes – 141 No

Discussion was abbreviated at this meeting that was over around 10 p.m.

nut shellIn a nutshell: the amendment to the town manager’s act passed on a ballot vote, 223 Yes to 141 No.

Crazy Paws and other dog-related businesses are now legal thanks to a more definitive bylaw that designates the difference between Veterinarian Hospital and Veterinarian Practice.  It passed unanimously.

This was the third town meeting attempt, and it failed again.  There will be no increase in the local option meal and hotel tax (a .75% increase was requested). Nor will there be a 6% local room occupancy tax.  Joe Campbell, manager of Atlantica, the Salt House and Cohasset Harbor Resort told the meeting that a hotel tax of 6% would be very high and would be an additional burden that could affect his ability to remain competitive. Campbell told the meeting that he had been thinking of many other things it could tax such as a “nanny tax,” or an SUV tax, as they block a lot of highways and byways of the town.

Citizen Ray Kasperowicz told the meeting that this tax was more costly than advisors and others had told it. “I don’t care what other towns do. Let’s give them (businesses) a break. Let’s show them that we’re a little more thoughtful.”

Citizen Peter Brown said, “We have had enough taxes.  I suggest you give people a reason to come here,” he said, suggesting that the town put up a sign on 3-A that states COHASSET DOES NOT HAVE A MEAL TAX, DOES NOT HAVE A HOTEL TAX.”

Citizen Ed Woods stated: “I find myself against paying taxes at all.” Everyone cheered.

Town Manager Act Amendment Debate

Town Meeting was more than ready to get rid of the subject that has been being debated for over a year, now – the amended town manager’s act.

Town officials and citizens said all the predictable stuff.

Governance had worked long and hard to reorganize and clarify the act.

Much of what Governance presented did, indeed, look like other towns’ Town Manager Acts. More people would now be able to apply for the position of town manager and governance pointed to other towns that had ended up hiring people from within, people who didn’t have the qualifications suggested by even the amended town manager act.

A year ago the issue of the Town Manager Act was the fact that selectmen had hired an individual to be a long-term acting town manager without having vetted him, without having had a search committee. And under the current Town Manager Act he did not qualify to be a town manager, as he had no professional experience as a town manager or an assistant town manager or an executive secretary.

Last night, time had passed, the “Mike Milanoski” factor had faded, the amended act was no longer about the man the selectmen had illegally hired for the position, and the town moved on, as selectmen had predicted it would.

Governance member Sam Wakeman told the meeting that the amended act now made clear how the board of selectmen interacts with its boards and committees. It has certainly done that.  The amended act gives the selectmen “oversight” over all their board and commissions, meaning selectmen are now legally sitting at those tables with those boards and commissions. Not a good thing, and former selectman Ronnie McMorris mentioned this and other problems when she addressed the meeting.

McMorris said the amended act read more like a job description than a system of governance.   She explained to the meeting that governance never addressed the water/sewer issue of combining departments and bringing everything under the town manager. For the past many years every auditor and a recent DOR report recommends the same. She recommended that town meeting look towards creating a charter that would encompass a broader governance system.

Governance member George McGoldrick said water/sewer changes should be done through bylaws, not necessarily a charter.

Citizen Agnes McCann, often referred to as the 6th selectman by the board of selectmen, told the meeting she had attended all but one of the governance meetings and both of the hearings. (Ms. McCann also attends all the governance meetings.) She said there were errors, omissions and that the amended document was poorly organized.

Citizen Michael Dick said he was inclined to vote against the article.” I’m concerned that we have a lack of communication between our town manager and the board of selectmen. We’re missing that dimension.”

Conservation Commission Chair Jack Creighton spoke in favor of the amendment.

Governance member Trish Morse told the meeting that the public process began 8 weeks ago and that it was important the meeting not vote against the amendment if they were against just one issue.

McCann told the meeting that there was nothing wrong with the current act, that it was very usable. She said “If the selectmen don’t know how to use the tool they have, don’t blame the tool.  If they don’t know how to use the computer they have, don’t blame the computer.”


© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed