Government Spotlight

Course reversals and details at March 15th select board meeting

|Debra Smith|

Course reversal was a theme at the March 15th meeting of the New Gloucester Board of Selectmen. The board made U turns on appointments to the charter commission, on discussion of the town manager search and the inclusion of the comprehensive plan on the warrant for the June election. And, the town manager said that she is not going to take the job as town manager in Casco after all.

Without explanation, the board reversed course on their decision last November to delay appointing three members to the charter commission until after the June election, the timing of which was in conflict with state statutes. At their March 1st meeting, they had discussed this issue, raised by Peter Bradgon, but took no action to comply with the rules. Appointments will instead be made at their April 5th meeting. They received some letters of interest last fall or winter, and will consider additional applications, due by March 31st at 5 PM. An application form will be available on the town web site.

The board had voted at their March 1st meeting to put discussion of the town manager search on the agenda for this meeting, but it wasn’t included. Bragdon raised this and a circular discussion ensued about needing to meet in executive session with the search consultant about who’s available and pay scales, and because “there’s stuff going on in the town.” It was added to the end of the agenda, after another vote of 3 to 1 (Chase objecting that they shouldn’t add an item because townspeople object to that practice). The board decided to include one at-large community member on the search committee. They’ll meet with the search consultant in executive session this week to kick off the process.

During public comment, former board member Joe Davis wished town manager Brenda Fox-Howard well in her new job as Casco’s town manager. Fox-Howard responded that she wasn’t going to Casco after all.

The agenda was otherwise full of details, from pole permits to committee appointments, and review of the town meeting warrant that will be voted by ballot again this year. Vice-chair Chase noted that the comprehensive plan will not be on the warrant, due to timing. (This was surprise to those who have served on the committee*, which has organized its work in order for the plan to be voted on in June. The Comprehensive Plan Update Committee will hold a public hearing on the draft plan on March 18th.)

To watch the video recording of the meeting, click here.

[Disclosure: This reporter is a member of the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee.)