At it’s meeting on November 18, 2014, the Hillsborough Selectboard fired another shot across the bow of “Volunteerism”. Selectmen Fullerton & Urquhart out-voted Selectperson Wendy Baker to put Peter Brigham in charge of the Manahan Park program.
Selectboard Chair Dave Fullerton had summoned the Park Board to a Non-Public session at the beginning of the meeting, ostensibly to get their input. In reality, after some members of the Park Board expressed concerns about Fullerton’s plan, he refused to allow them to discus the matter at their next meeting to make a recommendation to the Selectboard. He also then refused to allow the Park Board to vote and make a recommendation right then. After coming back into public session Fullerton immediately held a vote and the deed was done.
So, one would ask: Why have a Park Board if it’s not going to be allowed to express it’s opinion? Perhaps Chair Fullerton was just saving time and intended to ignore any opinion that didn’t match his own anyway.
This action follows the Boards debacle with the Historical Society and never achieved Historical Board earlier in the year. At that time the Board announced it’s intention to create a Historical Board to deal with some controversial issues. Then after soliciting and interviewing potential members the Selectboard just abandoned the idea with no concern to those who had volunteered to serve and taken the time to apply.
This pattern of snubbing volunteers unless they agree with the powers that be appears to have become a pattern for this town government. It has infiltrated the Planning Board (which Mr. Fullerton serves on). That Board which has a continual need for alternate and new members refused to appoint a volunteer as an alternate when it had none. That volunteer’s crime – being outspoken and criticizing that Boards actions.
It is clear that under this administration, the town’s mantra has become: If you don’t agree with Dave, then don’t bother to apply!
Article 3 – SB2
Why We Should Adopt SB2:
Because everyone should have a voice in the town’s affairs. Unfortunately too many of our citizens are unable to attend Town Meeting. Some work second shift; some have family at home to care for; some are out of town on business, wintering elsewhere or attending school; and some don’t drive at night or at all. For whatever reason, attendance at Town Meeting rarely exceeds a couple of hundred voters out of our population in the area of six thousand. I dare say that even those of us who do attend meetings know friends or family who don’t. It is not our place to judge their reasons. The rest of our citizens deserve to be heard.
For those who like the tradition of Town Meeting or feel that being able to discuss the issues with each other helps them make a good decision, that opportunity still exists at the first or as it is commonly known – the deliberative session. Under ‘SB2’ we get the best of both worlds – a meeting to discuss and then everyone having a vote!
For those that may want to research and find out more about an issue after hearing a point made by a fellow citizen at the meeting, this also allows the time to do so. Under the current system, if someone brings up a point during discussion, one has to make a snap decision about it. As someone who does speak at meetings, I would be presumptuous to expect my neighbors to accept what I have to say as gospel. None of us are perfect, so having a break before the final vote allows research to confirm something said. It also allows time to discuss the issues in other settings with people that couldn’t make the meeting or who perhaps just aren’t comfortable speaking in a large venue.
The bottom line is that SB2 will increase the number of us participating in our affairs. This is a win for democracy and a win for our town.
The Police Department Budget continues to grow. The Police Department Budget is by far the largest of all the Town Departments. At $1.7 million it is about the size of the second and third largest Departments combined (Highway $1.1 million and Fire/Rescue – $750k). It is also important to note that the $1.7 million doesn’t include the dispatch budget which is another $400k+. The largest cost item in these budgets is for payroll. The PD payroll is almost $1 million ($942k) of which $85k is planned for overtime (with additional $260k including $15k- OT for dispatch). Although concerns were raised about this amount last year, nothing appears to have been done to address these costs as both departments overspent their OT budget.
The Selectboard, through the Business Administrator needs to do their jobs and manage in a responsible manner to bring these costs down.