Mattapoisett approves most Town Meeting items with little fuss

Oct 22, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — Most of the 22 articles at Mattapoisett’s Oct. 21 Special Town Meeting passed without any changes or too much debate, though some required some explanation, or last-minute amendments to meet their required purpose. 

Finance Committee chair Patricia Donoghue explained that special town meetings fulfil three purposes. One, they can help anticipate additional expenses it didn’t know if it could cover in spring, two they can approve new contract costs and three they can address items on Capital Plan. 

She said this Town Meeting was fairly routine, since the town did not need to go over the tax limit and there is and nothing with impact on the tax levy next year. 

One article would not do any of those things, but would offer the town the chance to save some money. Mattapoisett currently pays for a school resource officer for Old Rochester Regional School District, since the host town for the school covers the cost under state law.

However, the state legislation which made school resource officers mandatory didn’t consider how regional schools would fund them. Town Administrator Michael Gagne said Mattapoisett  came to a verbal agreement with the other towns in the region to split the costs for the officer, but it was never written down or followed. 

A Mattapoisett-specific rule presented at this Town Meeting changes the payment model, splitting the $74,000 a year cost for the officer using a formula. The towns could also split costs with a memo of understanding. 

Attendee Bob Stoner asked, “what about Old Colony?,” another regional vocational school where Mattapoisett is a member.  

Gagne said members there haven’t come to a decision, but that they should be sharing the cost of an officer. 

One article that passed, but required amendment was an article to put a set of trails inside the Bay Club to access Tinkham Forest. 

Gagne came into Town Meeting with an amendment that would make the agreement favorable to the Bay Club, the town, and the Friends of Tinkham Forest. The change disregarded an Oct. 2 plan for the trails, and provided an easement over certain trails in “a location to be determined on Bay Club property or adjacent thereto along the Mattapoisett-Marion town boundary connecting Sippican Trail with Industrial Drive.” 

Other than clarifications on the wording for the proposed amendment, the only question was from Bill Cantor who wanted to know “why is this coming up at Special Town Meeting?,” because articles at this meeting usually have clear timelines, and this one was very obviously in the works. 

Gagne replied that he has been working on the project for a long time and wanted it to pass before he retires.

Voters seemed satisfied with his explanation and passed the article.