Select Board recommends Town Meeting articles

Oct 5, 2021

The Select Board voted 3-2-0 to recommend a citizens’ petition article that would reduce the board’s control over the Town Meeting warrant. The board also voted to recommend a number of articles brought forth by the Community Preservation Committee. 

The citizens’ petition article, which will come before voters at Town Meeting on Oct. 25, would change the process for Town Meeting warrant articles submitted by other town boards and committees. It would ensure that any such articles submitted to the Select Board would be included on the warrant — regardless of whether or not the Select Board supports the proposal. 

Currently, the Select Board acts as the gatekeeper of the warrant and decides whether to allow articles onto the warrant or not, even when those articles are proposed by other town committees or boards.

Peter Dunlop, the article’s lead petitioner, said he brought the article forward because, in the past, articles were included on Town Meeting warrants in “one of three ways: by citizens’ petition with 10 registered voters, by the Board of Selectmen and by a majority vote of a multi-member body.” 

“We want to return to that,” Dunlop said. His claim that the law had changed in 2019 to prevent articles from multi-member bodies from being put on the warrant by majority vote was disputed by Select Board member Peter Teitelbaum.

Select Board member Alan Slavin said he had “always felt that articles that are brought forth should go to the Town Meeting body to vote on.” He said the in the past, the Select Board’s decisions to block certain articles had “kind of forcing” people to use citizens’ petition articles as workarounds to get issues before Town Meeting. Slavin said he thought the citizens’ petition article “is necessary at this time.”

Teitelbaum said he was concerned that relinquishing control of the warrant the way the article proposed could have unforeseen budgetary ramifications.

“I’m concerned that if every committee decides ‘oh, we need a budget all of the sudden,’ you’re going to throw the budget into chaos,” he said. “I look at it through the lens of ‘what do I think is best for the taxpayers?’”

Select Board member Patrick Tropeano emphasized that state law allows the Select Board to control the warrant because Select Board members can look at “the very broad picture” while members of other boards often struggle to do that. 

Select Board members Jim Munise, Judith Whiteside and Slavin and voted to recommend the citizens’ petition article. 

Select Board members Tropeano and Teitelbaum voted against recommending the article. 

“Let’s see what Town Meeting body wants to do and what the arguments are on Town Meeting floor,” Munise said.

Whiteside said the board will hear from the lead petitioners behind four other citizens’ petition articles at the board’s next meeting on Oct. 11. 

Swifts Beach playground, Wickets island restoration

The Select Board also voted to recommend five Town Meeting warrant articles brought forth by the Community Preservation Committee. 

These articles included a request for $250,000 to install new playground equipment in Swifts Beach and a separate request for $150,000 to help cover the cost of the Buzzard Bay Coalition’s efforts to restore the stone pier on Wickets Island.

Fall Town Meeting will take place on Monday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at Wareham High School (7 Viking Drive).