HANSON — Selectmen on Tuesday, Feb. 25 reiterated that it is too early to set up any Override Committee.
“Formation of an Override Committee is not a foregone conclusion that we are going to do an override,” said Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett. “It is simply, should we get some folks together to study whether this is something we want to do.”
She said she had no problem kicking the can down the road or not doing it at all.
“We can certainly wait to see what the School Committee has got to say,” she said.
“I think it’s way too early to form an Override Committee,” said Selectman Kenny Mitchell. “I think, if we do have to go that route, we’re not going to have time anyway.”
Selectman Jim Hickey agreed.
“I just don’t think six or seven people on a committee can represent the whole town,” Hickey said.
Selectman Matt Dyer, however, said setting up a committee might not be a bad idea.
“We all know how long we’ve been reading the [lists of] vacancies on these committees,” Dyer said of the agenda feature read at the beginning of each meeting. “It might not be a bad idea to start advertising it [and] have names on file.”
Whether or not there is time for a committee to do any good, at least the board would know who might serve on one.
Resident Bruce Young argued that the town has to keep in mind that even a level-funded assessment would, under a statutory method, Hanson’s assessment would go up $1,150,000 and the assessment for Whitman would go down by that same amount.
“Unless Whitman changes its attitude, and plays ball with Hanson and finds some kind of really neat compromise between the statutory method and the percentage of pupils method … just keep that in mind,” he said, arguing that not talking about or planning an Override Committee is “more than wishful thinking.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said that, while there have been some people in town that have expressed interest in serving on an Override Committee.
Selectman Wes Blauss asked what an Override Committee’s mission would be.
Young described a committee whose work echoes that done by Whitman’s Budget and Override Evaluation Committee.
She stressed that a place-holder warrant article for an override is just that, a place holder, and that there are no override plans at this point.
FitzGerald-Kemmett also expressed concern about reports of a citizen’s petition favoring deregionalization being circulated for inclusion on the Town Meeting warrant.
“Although I support citizen’s petitions, I think it’s one of the truest forms of democracy, what typically happens is they may be inartfully worded,” she said. “I get concerned that, if we have an inartfully worded citizen’s petition about deregionalization, that we could be asked to do something that we can’t do.”
She said that, while no one has pulled petition papers, FitzGerald-Kemmett described the reports as “stronger than a rumor.”
In other business, Marianne DiMascio of Green Hanson outlined a community choice aggregation plan for purchasing lower-cost electricity for the town.
She noted that residents often receive mailings claiming such a purchase on an individual basis is easy.
“It’s hard to figure out the research, is it real, is it not?” she said. “There’s a solution.”
She reviewed the aggregation plan through a PowerPoint presentation from the Mass. Climate Action Network.
“Think of it like a buyer’s club,” DiMascio said of the MCAN’s 160 member towns. “Right now, we’re all individual buyers buying energy from National Grid. But, if we got together as a town, and decided to buy our energy together, then we get a better deal.”
She also said renewable energy sources were also possible through such a program, and that the state requires 14 percent of energy comes from renewable sources.
“A big question is what does it cost?” DiMascio said. She pays for 100-percent renewable energy for her home from National Grid, admitting it is expensive. “With the power of the buying as a community, you can get some of the prices down.”
Rockland, Scituate and Halifax have already entered such cost-savings programs, which would have to be approved at Town Meeting. The town would then get a broker, at no cost, to lead it through the project.
Residents not wishing to participate must opt out.
Electricity would still be delivered through National Grid and the rate would be guaranteed for the length of any contract to which the town agrees.
Highway Director Kevin Cahill updated the board on the complete streets program, announcing that his department is prepared to move forward with it. If there are scheduling problems because of the location — at County and Liberty/High streets — added contract language would permit them to request work be done at night at no additional cost.
“The idea is to make it a safer route for the children who are coming out of the middle school in the afternoons, on half-days, on Fridays,” Cahill said. “We found that they populate that area of town heavily.”