The Duxbury Select Board is looking for a new select board member to replace Dick Charland, who resigned last week after a contentious select board meeting on October 26. At the October 26 meeting, covered in last week’s issue of The Valley Reporter, Charland and select board member Mari Pratt argued over how to pay for repairs on the Duxbury town garage, and more than one person took issue with Charland’s tone.
“Dick, I would like you to refrain from calling people stupid,” said Duxbury resident Dawn Poitras in the middle of the October 26 meeting after Charland mockingly asked Pratt if she thought the townspeople were too stupid to understand his plan, which involved repairing the town garage using money originally allocated for the Duxbury salt shed, a lesser priority.
“Dick, no making voices. If I hear you mimicking anyone on the board again, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I’ll pull my hair out, and I don’t have many left,” said Duxbury Select Board chair Kevin Garcia after Charland imitated Pratt with a squeaky voice, mocking her suggestions for funding the town garage.
With Charland gone, at the Duxbury Select Board’s November 9 meeting select board members discussed advertising for the new position.
“It would be nice to see if we could fill the fifth seat on the board. To have a fifth opinion, one more set of eyes on things,” said Garcia this week.
READY TO FILL THE SEAT
Unexpectedly, a member of the public present at the November 9 Zoom meeting was ready to fill the seat that night. “How bout we do it right now?” said Jeff Poitras. “Not me, but my wife. My wife would like to get back on the select board and fill out the rest of Dick’s term.” Poitras’ wife, Dawn Poitras, is the person who spoke up at the October 26 meeting.
“That is awesome news that we have a candidate for the position, but since we didn’t warn it, we can’t make the decision tonight,” said Pratt. “But for our next meeting, we can see if we have candidates and go from there.”
The select board’s next meeting is November 23. Those interested in filling Charland’s seat can attend to throw their hat in.
Board members moved on to discuss funding repairs for the town garage, the topic that caused the fight between Charland and Pratt to break out in the first place. While Charland wanted to use the $70,000 salt shed money to start repairing the town garage piece-meal style, Pratt suggested the town put a bond out in order to complete the project, since reallocating voter-approved salt shed money would be deceiving to the public.
At this week’s meeting, Garcia came up with his own proposal for fixing the garage, a project estimated to cost over $200,000.
“I was thinking about this. You can call me crazy. But just hear me out,” started Garcia. “We could do a line item, say for $55,000 to charge for the repair. If we were to put that line item in the budget, at the same time, we could do a bond vote, for $225,000, and do the whole garage and be done with it. If the bond passed, then we would strike the line item. If it didn’t pass, we would leave the line item in,” said Garcia.
In other words, Garcia wants to use the one-and-done bond solution as Plan A, and use the $55,000 line-item solution as Plan B, for it would provide a safety net that would allow the town to start piecemeal style repairs on the garage this year, if a bond does not pass.
To pass a bond, the board has to hold a public hearing for Duxbury residents before Town Meeting Day on March 3, when they would finally vote on whether to pass the bond or not.
“If the bond passes at Town Meeting, we could strike the line item and reduce the budget by $55,000. That could be discussed at length at Town Meeting,” said Garcia. Note that Garcia’s piecemeal solution is different from Charland’s in that it does not take money from one project to fund another. “It could give the town the opportunity to decide if they want to do it one piece at a time or bite the bullet and pay for the whole thing. We would have to have the vote at Town Meeting.”
At the November 23 meeting, in addition to appointing a new select board member, board members will discuss whether or not to pursue a bond for repairs on the town garage.