By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
In addition to meeting at the Special Town Meeting on 8/30, the Acushnet Selectboard held their regularly scheduled meeting on 8/30.
The first order of business was to approve a rate increase from the town’s attorney, Kopelman & Paige.
Selectboard chairperson Garry Rawcliffe read a letter from K&P regarding a $5.00/hour rate increase, going from $165.00/hour to $170.00/ hour. The board approved the rate.
K&Ps attorney, Darren Klein was also present to go over any last minute questions for the Special Town Meeting to take place later that evening.
Mr. Klein told the Selectboard that because this group got the required signatures to put an article forward on a special town meeting, the Selectboard was required to put the petition on the article “as is.”
He explained that it was a non-binding article.
“It’s not an uncommon event,” he said. “But this article is a bit more unique than some that we’ve seen.”
“So it’s basically a general consensus of either the people are for or against the LNG project?” asked Mr. Rawcliffe.
Mr. Klein said that it was just a consensus for those who attend.
Mr. Rawcliffe wanted to make sure that the town would not be hampered by the vote.
“We want to be able to review the Northeast Access project, no matter how the matter is voted on tonight,” said Mr. Rawcliffe.
“There is no legal effect whatsoever, nor would negotiations be affected whatsoever,” said Mr. Klein.
“No harm, no foul,” Mr. Rawcliffe stated.
“The only effect to the town is there is a cost to hold a special town meeting,” said Mr. Klein said. “You are not required to do anything either way if the article passes or doesn’t. It’s non-binding.”
Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar expressed his frustration in the way the article was written.
“This is dictatorship, not democracy,” he said, adding that he did not think the townspeople would appreciate the Selectboard making decisions on everyday business with only 20% of the information.
“I find this article appalling; one special interest group is trying to dictate how we make a decision,” said Mr. Gaspar. “By no means will they influence me to vote one way or another.”
In other business, resident David Davignon addressed the board as a member of the Town Administrator review committee.
In a letter he submitted to the Selectboard, he stated that he wanted to discuss a letter sent by David Wojnar, chairperson of TA screening committee that was discussed at the 8/10 Selectboard meeting. Mr. Davignon said he felt the letter was not on behalf of the whole committee.
“I wasn’t aware the Mr. Wojnar submitted a letter to the Selectboard, and I’m not sure how it went from a potential residency requirement by-law change to a by-law change regarding the Town Administrator being able to work another job while being our Town Administrator. It’s not something we discussed,” Mr. Davignon told the board.
Mr. Rawcliffe stated that he was unsure where the confusion happened. He re-read the letter from David Wojnar in its entirety, which stated the request from the by-law committee and Selectboard to think about a residency by-law change.
“From this letter to the by-law review committee then to our board, there must’ve been some confusion on what the request was. I can’t tell you how it was misconstrued,” Mr. Rawcliffe said. “However, I can tell you that we as a Selectboard decided to table the discussion and did not take any vote on the matter.”
Mr. Gaspar thanked the Town Administrator search committee for all their hard work.
“I understand what goes into that type of committee, the time away from your family; so I appreciate all the hard work and time that was put into each potential candidate,” said Mr. Gaspar.
In other business, Mr. Gaspar told everyone that the annual car cruise was a huge success and thanked everyone who helped him out that day.
“There were a lot of volunteers that day and I really appreciated all the help,” he said.
He publicly thanked Gary Bergeron and his staff at the Emergency Management Agency; he thanked Dan Menard and the Department of Public Works; Scott Alexander and his two volunteers, Miquel and Tyler.
“There were just so many volunteers, I know I’m forgetting some. Just a huge thank you to everyone who helped out,” said Mr. Gaspar.
“And thank you to you, Kevin,” Mike Cioper said. “For putting it together and volunteering yourself. And you arranged the weather perfectly that day.”
Lastly, Mr. Menard of the DPW was present to discuss the water leak detection results.
He said they had a professional company come out and use their own meters to check some of the water meters and they came back with inaccurate results. He said that the estimated bills from the City of New Bedford are incorrect, and that four out of five meters failed.
“Even on a six-inch meter, the bill says they’re charging us for an eight-inch meter,” Mr. Menard said.
“So what you’re saying is that we are no way at a thirty-three percent water loss and that we’ve overpaid New Bedford for at least the last two years,” said Mr. Rawcliffe. “Perhaps we need legal advice to move forward on this matter.”
“It’s hard to think you’re making progress and then realize you’re getting kicked in the head by the other guy,” Mr. Gaspar said. “We definitely need to get this resolved with the city.”
The board voted to discuss the matter with town counsel in executive session.