Plympton Selectmen met Monday, taking care of some new business, and tabling much of the old.
Notably, both Chairman John Russo and Selectperson Christine Joy addressed meeting decorum, as previous meetings in the past few weeks have become quite heated. Russo rarely reminds the audience of many ground rules other than encouraging a respectful environment. This night, he actually read from Massachusetts Open Meeting laws, stating outright that no one may interrupt a meeting, and that the chairperson must recognize anyone who wishes to address the board.
If someone is disruptive, the chairperson may ask that individual to leave, and if that person refuses the Chair can have him or her removed by a constable. Russo articulated that this was not optional, as this is stated explicitly in the Open Meeting law.
Russo explained that he did not want to create an environment where people were afraid to debate, but that meetings needed to be a safe setting for discussion.
Selectperson Joy reiterated much of this later on in the meeting.
Town Coordinator Dale Pleau reported to the board that he had unused sick days from Fiscal Year 2015, and that he did not want to take them now at the end of this fiscal year because he felt that he had a significant amount of work to finish up. He asked the Board to allow him to roll some or all of the days over to Fiscal Year 2016.
As he had made a similar request last year– and rolled four days into Fiscal Year 2015– the Board had not wanted to set a precedent then. The Board deliberated on what exactly to do. Pleau insisted he would take the days if the Board did not roll over some of the time, and this would amount to him working only one day over the next two weeks.
The Board allowed him to roll over three days in a 2-1 vote, over the objections of Joy, who wished to stick to Pleau’s contract with the Board– even asking Pleau why he hadn’t taken the days earlier, to which he responded that there was nowhere to go in the winter.
Russo made it clear that the Board would likely not accommodate him similarly again.
Although the Board was supposed to approve roughly 54 appointed positions at the meeting, a slight mix-up between the Town Clerk, Tara Wick, and the Selectmen’s Assistant, Kristen LaVangie required the appointments be delayed two weeks, until the next meeting on June 29, 2015.
Selectperson Joy expressed some frustration in not having more time to vet the appointees, since the current positions expire July 1, 2015. Russo affirmed that this was the first time during LaVangie’s initial year in her position that any issue had arose, and was not particularly concerned. He complimented her excellent job performance.
Joy, along with her concerns about decorum at meetings, brought some fresh thoughts to the board. One was regarding changing the agenda format into “old-business” and “new-business” sections, although Russo and Selectman Colleen Thompson did not feel very strongly about this. Russo was concerned that doing this implies that the meeting will go in the order of the agenda (which rarely happens.)
Joy also suggested adding a public forum at the end of the meeting, but Russo objected, saying that he already asks at the beginning if anyone would like to add anything to the agenda. Leaving public forums to the end may cause long discussions as the meeting is wrapping up, according to Russo.
Joy also wanted to explore changing the setup of the room, or moving rooms for the Selectmen’s meetings, as she does not like being on an elevated platform in the current meeting room and would rather be at eye-level with the rest of the audience. The Selectmen currently sit at an 8-inch raised dais. The Board agreed to try out a different setup or room during the summer to see how it works, but no vote was taken on Joy’s suggestions.
The Board approved a “micro-chip reader” to identify lost pets for the Animal Control Officer, which Russo, a practicing veterinarian, believed would cost about $300, and stated that the chip-readers are essential for finding out who pets belong to (animals can be injected with a chip under their skin to identify their owners to veterinarians and ACOs.) Joy added the stipulation that the ACO stay within the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, and the Selectmen unanimously approved the purchase.
The Selectmen continued to divide up future goals and assignments for the upcoming year, including increased regionalization, improving the Town’s website, and addressing the Department of Revenue report on Plympton’s finances.
In other news:
• Debbie Grace presented plans for the new Silver Lake Integrated Preschool playground project, which will be located in Kingston. It is entirely privately funded through grants and donations, but the project volunteers are going to each district town’s Selectmen to inform them of progress. See the article on page 1 for more information.
• The tentative hours for Town House and various boards this summer are as follows. These have changed several times; thus it may be best to call ahead if you have timely or pressing business with the Town:
Every other Monday evening, 6 p.m. (General Schedule to follow through the Summer: June 29, July 13, July 27, August 10 and August 24 unless otherwise posted.)
Administrative Office Hours:
Assessors, Selectmen, Treasurer/Collector, and Town Clerk
Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Every other Monday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. (General Schedule to follow through the Summer: June 29, July 13, July 27, August 10 and August 24.)
Board of Health:
Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Monday Evening from 6 to 8 p.m. (General Schedule to follow through the Summer: June 29, July 13, July 27, August 10, and August 24.)
EVERY Monday evening 6 to 8 p.m. (including Building, Electrical, Plumbing Inspectors and Zoning Enforcement Officer.)
Tuesday through Thursday 2 to 5 p.m.
ALL OTHER COMMITTEES AND BOARDS POST MEETINGS ACCORDING TO THE STATE OPEN MEETING LAW REQUIREMENTS 48 HOURS NOTICE IN ADVANCE.