NORTH YARMOUTH — Among the Town Charter amendments going before voters Nov. 3 is one that would shift the responsibility for setting fees collected by the town from Town Meeting to the Board of Selectmen.
“You’re taking it from Town Meeting, which is a set process, and allowing the selectmen to do it after a public hearing,” Administrative Assistant Marnie Diffin said about local ballot Question 4.
Diffin said the shift will allow more flexibility on the Board of Selectmen’s part than the process currently provided by Town Meeting. People would still have the right to comment on the fees at the public hearings, “but the bottom line is, it’s the Board of Selectmen who vote on it, not the entire town as a Town Meeting action.”
The shift is intended both to streamline and modernize the fee-setting process, Diffin said. She used building permits as an example: “At this point, if there was a glaring problem or the state decided that the plumbing fees changed, technically speaking you’d have to call a Town Meeting to make that change, because only Town Meeting action can address that fee change.”
Diffin said the board would have to give seven days’ notice before a public hearing on changing a fee. “So it’s a little more formal than just putting it on the selectmen’s meeting agenda,” she explained, “but certainly far less formal than going to Town Meeting vote.”
All fees collected would be reported each year in the town report.
There are three other local questions on the ballot next month:
• Question 1 specifies the date of the election of certain municipal officials, also separating and distinguishing the election portion of Town Meeting from the business meeting, which would take place on two different days. The election portion would be the second Tuesday of each June, while the business meeting would be the Saturday immediately following that Tuesday.
• Question 2 involves the office of the administrative assistant, which is appointed by the Board of Selectmen for a term not to exceed three years. The administrative assistant currently also serves as town clerk, with a deputy clerk serving separately. The charter amendment provides more flexibility, Diffin said: the administrative assistant could serve as town clerk, or could instead serve as deputy clerk while the normal deputy clerk becomes the clerk. The role reversal would address situations where the clerk’s workload increases, making it more difficult for the clerk to serve both in that capacity and as administrative assistant.
• Question 3 would increase the threshold amount that the administrative assistant uses to present competitive bids to the Board of Selectmen for purchases. The current threshold is $500, and it would increase to $5,000. The town would be able to obtain quotes for purchases less than $5,000, but would need a bidding process, with specifications created and the project advertised, for purchases greater than that amount.
The threshold increase would bring the dollar amount more in line with costs that have increased over the years due to inflation.
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.