As promised, I’m continuing to look at what voters will be deciding at next Monday’s Annual Town Meeting. Today, I’m highlighting Warrant Article 32: Transfer Station violations and fines.
The proposed bylaw would give the Board of Selectmen the authority to define fines annually.
[It seems straight forward enough. But given past reactions to changes at the Transfer Station, I never know how readers will react!]
This isn’t a power grab by the BOS.* The change was proposed by the Green Technology & Recycling Committee and supported by the Public Works Planning Board.
The recommendation came out of discussions the committees had in reviewing Transfer Station policies and fee structures.
Selectmen already vote to approve the Transfer Station policies each year. But the fines for violating the policies are currently specified by a bylaw.
Right now, fines are $100 per violation of rules and regs, after a warning letter for the first offense. Additionally it defines a $250 fine for entering the Transfer Station without a valid sticker.
Revisions would strip language specifying the amounts and replace it with “Fines are set annually by the Board of Selectmen”.
The change could presumably allow selectmen to decide that some offenses deserve higher/lower fines. And they would have the flexibility to readjust each year without going back to Town Meeting.
The bylaw would still protect residents’ right to receive a warning for a first mistake. The change may even extend that protection to transfer station trespassers. (My layman’s reading of the current bylaw is that the fine for entering without a sticker isn’t after a first offense. With that sentence removed, it seems that “after the first warning letter” would apply to any and all violations.)
To read the full text of the Article, click here.
To see the full Town Warrant, click here.
*In fact, the BOS initially balked at including the Article in the Town Warrant. But the discussion centered not on fines, but on a process laid out for selectmen to rule on violations. The draft Warrant discussed at that January 5th meeting wasn’t in the packet. So, it’s unclear whether the version in the Warrant has since been revised or the nature of the bylaw changes were misunderstood.