HANSON – Some of the business before Hanson Town Meeting will be coming back again.
Passed over items receiving some focused debate, such as salary to enable the hiring of a full-time conservation agent and funds to purchase generators for the library/senior center and to install security cameras on Town Hall property will likely be seen on the October special Town Meeting warrant.
Moderator Sean Kealy’s motion to pass over funding a strategic plan, was amended by Frank Milisi as too important to wait.
“I think the citizens should have a chance to vote on whether they want a strategic plan now or in October,” he said.
A funding source had been lacking at the time the article was voted on by the Select Board.
“Now that were further along in this meeting, it’s clear that it looks as though it’s clear there will be the $15,000 to do the strategic plan,” Select Board member Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “Perhaps we would have a different outlook.”
Voters then voted in support of funding the plan as was printed in the warrant.
Ann Rein of State Street asked why the generators would be passed over.
FitzGerald-Kemmett, who had proposed the article, said the basic reason the board passed over its own article was the uncertainty over how much free cash would be available.
“It is going to be reimbursed by ARPA (the American Recovery Plan Act), but you have to fund it upfront to get the reimbursement,” she said. “We really weren’t certain how some of these articles were going to go. We were cautioned by the Finance Committee, and rightly so, we’d be playing “Russian roulette” if we decided to include this in a budget when we didn’t know how the other articles were going to pass.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said the article is definitely worthwhile and intends to bring it back no later than October.
Also passed over were a transfer of $25,000 in free cash to replenish the Conservation fund and to raise and appropriate funds to fund the Conservation agent as a full-time position, rather than a part-time one.
While Conservation Commissions Chairman Phil Clements said he was not opposed to passing over the article, he sought to point out that the conservation agent position is the only part-time department head in Hanson town government.
“It used to be a full-time position until the big recession hit about 10 or 12 years ago,” he said. “All the other departments seemed to have recovered from that. We have not — we’ve been hopping on one leg for the last decade.”
He said people call the office and sometimes can’t get answers because the agent is out of hours for the week, and is a position that supports the economic development of the town.
“Every development, for business, industry and so forth, has to come before the commission and we look forward to revisiting this so we can fully support those activities in town,” he said.
Joseph O’Sullivan of West Washington Street, an abutter to a proposed project— 0 County Road — where the developer wants to put in 10 four-bedroom houses in a wetland surrounded by water on three sides, opposed passing over the funding of a full-time agent.
“Only the Conservation Commission has the authority to evaluate and use their judgment about the future impact of putting this proposed subdivision in,” he said. “Only the conservation agent can deal with the state on reviewing the Wetlands Act.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said it was another difficult decision made with the budget in mind, especially since it was not clear how transfer station funding was going to go. The salary was also not the only financial consideration, she said, noting benefits were also involved.
Clemens said it was his hope that it could be revisited in October.
Funding an event coordinator and facilities manager at Camp Kiwanee was also passed over.