HANSON — Selectmen discussed ways to organize discussions between them, Town Administrator Michael McCue, Whitman officials and the School Committee to better coordinate budget planning.
“As a board, we’re concerned and we don’t want to keep repeating that pattern,” Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said of “not necessarily productive” talks during the fiscal 2020 budget process.
“I think that we are going to need to have a conversation with the schools very, very soon in terms of that coordination but in terms of what they foresee their future to be and what their funding needs are,” McCue said. “The numbers we gave them this year is not sustainable going forward.”
The town is also mulling a Citizen Online Reporting System, similar to one already in place in Whitman, for residents to report problems such as potholes in need of repair.
“You could just go online and put that little report in there and it gets divvied out to the right person,” said FitzGerald-Kemmett.
McCue has reached out to Whitman officials, through the town’s IT director, to ask about how the system works there and will report back how the system works, cost and level of input sought under the program.
“The Whitman application seems to be pretty broad in terms of what you can send in,” McCue said. “I’m not necessarily saying the town of Hanson doesn’t want that, but I don’t want to just make that assumption.”
McCue said he doesn’t think there is much of a price difference based on the kind of input a program is open to, but he added a better understanding of cost and parameters is needed before Selectmen should be asked to make a decision.
“If you get too deep into, maybe, a complaint process — you don’t necessarily want that sort of stuff coming in anonymously,” McCue said.
Selectman Matt Dyer, who said he has a “little bit of experience with point-click-fix” applications through his job as a state employee in Brockton, working closely with that city’s DPW and other city officials, he said residents are required to log in to make reports.
“It’s not only to keep out comments and complaints, but it also allows municipal workers to get in touch with them and say, ‘I don’t see the problem here, can you give me more guidance,’” Dyer said. “It works really well and, I know … not everyone but a good majority of them are very happy with the service.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said that kind of feedback is helpful for the board to hear.
“It’s in keeping with one of the goals this board has set, which is better outreach, better access to our citizens … having more of that open dialog and open line and I thought, ‘what have we got to lose by looking at it,’” she said.
Lite Control property accepted
In other business, Selectmen also voted to accept the Lite Control property, and authorized FitzGerald-Kemmett to execute relevant documents in her capacity as chairman. A cell tower on the property would not translate into additional revenue for the town because it is under a 30-year lease under a one-check deal with Lite Control that did not include residual payments.
“We shall look at that property for potential revenue opportunities,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “The irony of this [signing] is not lost on me, the one person [on the board] who dissented against it,” she laughed. “I will do the job that I have been elected to do.”
Selectmen Jim Hickey said that consideration had been behind his request to delay the board reorganization.
Selectmen discussed the lack of notice some residents felt was given to an informational meeting held by a recreational marijuana cultivation facility at Town Hall recently, which some felt was inadequate.
Board members noted the state only requires that proponents announce the session in a legal ad in the local paper, which the applicants did. McCue is also urging that another meeting be held at the Council on Aging as a way to get the message out better, as well as organizing a cable television program on it.
“We are helping to facilitate this process, but it is not our process,” McCue said. “These meetings are incumbent on the proponent, they’re no meetings that are being promoted by the Board of Selectmen or the town of Hanson.”