Back into the Swing of Day to Day
With the new year and the new dynamic in the town council, I thought I’d best resume the habit of attending all meetings — exuding my apparently intimidating presence.
At the moment, there’s one of those typical town-level debates about development issues. Somebody wants to develop and needs some sort of concession from the town concerning a road of somewhat ambiguous ownership, and old grievances come to the town microphone. I do wonder whether this is a practice that diminishes as towns move from quasirural to suburban, decreasing the ambiguities and limiting additional development.
TCC member Joe Souza just pointed out that, if the developer is asking the town to cede some land, then the town ought to get some money for it. A reasonable point, although I don’t know the amounts involved.
On the other hand, there are road improvements and such involved in the package. As with much else, these “negotiations” could stand to be more explicit about what is given and what is exchanged, for lack of a better word.
TCC member and councillor Jay Lambert just suggested that the town ease the burden on businesses and save processing expenses by enabling various licenses and such to be held for longer than one year terms. Solicitor Teitz explained, first, that the year term is set by the state and, anyway, that it’s convenient to have businesses come before the council every year just in case there are any issues for which the town doesn’t want to (or can’t) go through the appropriate due processes.
Jay Lambert just called for the town council to take the lead on reductions by cutting their $2,400 stipend by 15% or 20%. Cecil Leonard put forward a motion for 15%.
Ex-Council President Louise Durfee expressed concerns that future councils won’t be able to attract the poorer of Tiverton’s “diverse” residents without the full stipend.
Leonard pointed out that his motion was specifically a one-year action, but Durfee stated that the council can’t, in the future, raise its own salaries back.
Joanne Arruda, Don Bollin, and Hannibal Costa all suggested that the action be made a personal option for individual councillors.
Lambert’s arguing that the people who’ll see their salaries cut and so forth won’t be able to opt for it.
Durfee wants to wait and see what the finances actually do.
ADDENDUM 8:34 p.m.:
Durfee and Joanne Arruda are both making the argument that the stipend allows them to give to charity. Hmm.
ADDENDUM 8:38 p.m.:
With that motion tabled until next meeting, Lambert is suggesting the compilation of potential projects to put forward for our share of the magic Obama money.
ADDENDUM 8:41 p.m.:
One town official, in detailing “shovel ready” projects, noted that nobody knows the form of stimulus (grants, loans, a combination). But hey, it might be that Obama’s going to hook me up to a sewage line!
I ask again: Why hasn’t anybody else ever thought of dishing out money to give everybody in the nation somethin’ fer nuthin’?
ADDENDUM 8:53 p.m.:
Now Lambert’s suggesting that the town council send a statement to the General Assembly asking them to reduce their own compensation and eliminate or reduce their own healthcare. “I don’t see any rational relationship between being in the General Assembly and healthcare benefits.”
Durfee again: Their salary is set by the constitution of Rhode Island. “I wouldn’t want the town to look stupid.” She and Teitz are going over the history: The current deal was a compromise with reformers to get rid of expensive pension deals.
ADDENDUM 9:00 p.m.:
Tabled pending conversation witth local legislators.
ADDENDUM 9:06 p.m.:
With no notion of how many people might be involved, Solicitor Teitz suggested that the council (out of its contingency fund) pick up the $90 fee for local officials whose boards have not so budgeted to attend a GrowSmart RI seminar. The council passed unanimously up to $900 in payments.