HANSON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, April 25 previewed next week’s Town Meeting articles.
The rehearsal for the Monday, May 1 Town Meeting was mostly intended as an opportunity for various town officials to discuss articles that will be put before the meeting. Some of the officials came to specifically discuss articles they were representing.
Most of the articles were passed over quickly, without much discussion, but others were more controversial. At various times Selectmen and even town officials spoke out against articles.
Selectman Bruce Young, for example, maintained that town bylaws are not being followed on Article 14 — the Capital Improvement matrix, which totals $12 million — a figure the town is unable to fund. Young maintained the Capital Improvement Committee is not doing its job, because it is charged with producing a matrix the town can afford.
“I’m not going to let you twist my arm in public,” Selectmen Chairman James McGahan said in an effort to restore order to the meeting.
There was also much discussion revolving around the WasteZero contract, recently extended for three years. The extension was signed by Town Administrator Michael McCue.
Selectmen expressed concern over the relevance of a waste disposal transfer station when most people in town are now using various hauling companies for their waste.
Young was concerned about the lack of publicity surrounding the extension, citing that it was highly publicized three years ago at the initial signing with WasteZero. He said that it was previously a “ceremonial signing of the contract.” He offered to show the video to the representative from the transfer station. Selectman Kenny Mitchell agreed with Young, stating that he was there during the last signing and was surprised that it was not done in a similar manner this time.
McGahan said he felt this portion of the discussion was a distraction.
“Regardless of the history, let’s stick to what’s on the agenda,” he said. “I don’t want to go into a violation of the Open Meeting Law.”
McCue wanted to verify his intent in signing the contract extension. He stated, “there’s a misconception that this was a de facto extension” on his part and wanted to make it clear that, if the town eventually wants to move toward curbside trash collection in the future, it would need to start the process at a more adequate time.
“In the interim we need to keep in place what we have now or we’ll have nothing in place,” he said.
Young also wanted to know the number of Hanson residents who have a valid pass for the transfer station and compare that to the number of homes in Hanson to gauge the relevance of the program. He said that on his street various waste disposal companies are used and wonders how many people truly take advantage of the pay as you go transfer station system. This information was not immediately available.
Selectman Donald Howard defended the transfer station, stating, “Pay as you go has worked throughout this country.”
“We have tried many ways to fund the transfer stations,” Howard said. “Yes, we run at a deficit but eventually we’ll get better at it.”
The representatives from the transfer station were pleased with Howard’s sentiment, and were adamant in their plan to make the transfer station “self-sufficient.”
Mitchell said, “I don’t believe it will ever be self-sufficient.”
The board approved to hire and appoint three women to positions in the Town of Hanson.
Rhondalee Larson will be the new clerk to the Treasurer. The Selectmen spoke very highly of Larson and her 20 years of experience.
“We were quite fortunate that Rhondalee chose to apply to the position,” McCue said.
The town also appointed Mary Drake to be an Animal Control Officer. She has experience providing home pet care and has written a book on a six-week dog training program. McCue praised her enthusiasm and said she has been active as interim animal control officer in the past two weeks.
Lee Gamache, a resident of Hanson for 54 years and an employee of the town for 20 years, applied to be a member of the 200th anniversary commission and was accepted by the Board.
To start the meeting the Board entered executive session for roughly 40 minutes. This was to strategize “in preparation for negotiations with non-union personnel or contract negotiations with non-union personnel.” These strategies apply to various employees for the town.