China selectmen adopt two new policies; transfer tags, meeting decorum

by Mary Grow

China selectmen adopted two new policies at their Jan. 6 meeting.

The one-page RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) policy for the transfer station, recommended by the Transfer Station Committee with input from town office staff, deals with the new transfer station entrance requirement that will be effective Feb. 1.

The five-page Select Board Policy, prepared by board Chairman Ronald Breton and, he said, edited by Town Manager Dennis Heath, governs conduct of selectmen’s meetings, including how members of the public are to address the board.

RFID tags are available at the town office; as of Jan. 6, Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood said 318 had been issued. The three-inch-square tags are carried in a transfer station user’s vehicle (hanging from the rearview mirror is recommended). They trigger a scanner when the vehicle comes into the facility; if the scanner is not triggered, transfer station staff can check to make sure the driver is a China or Palermo resident (Palermo shares China’s transfer station by contract) or otherwise entitled to use the facility.

The policy allocates one free tag to each China and Palermo residence or business. Unlike stickers that had to be renewed annually, tags do not expire. Additional tags are available for $10 if needed, with the $10 refunded when the tag is returned. Selectmen suggested families with several vehicles could buy extra tags; or, Hapgood said, a tenant could get a $10 tag to use while living in either town and get the $10 refunded when he or she moved away.

In response to concerns about privacy raised during earlier discussions of the RFID system, the policy says the only information collected at the transfer station will be the tag number, town, date and time. According to the earlier discussion, information linking a tag to a person will be kept in a separate file that is not a public record.

Three candidates vie for selectmen’s seat

China Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood said three candidates submitted nomination papers for the vacant seat on the Board of Selectmen: Christopher Hahn, Janet Preston and Kevin Rhoades. A special election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, in conjunction with the new state presidential primary.

The Select Board Policy specifies meeting dates and times; describes public notice and record-keeping procedures; describes the agenda and by whom and how items are put on it; and sets a maximum 9:30 p.m. adjournment unless the board changes it.

A person wishing to address the board during the public comment section of the meeting must have signed in and must be recognized by the chair at the appropriate time in deliberations. Speakers are limited to three minutes and may speak only once on a topic; topics are limited to agenda items; no other audience member may join the conversation unless the board chairman approves.

The policy adds that, “After a meeting is adjourned, no member of the public shall be permitted to address the select board or staff.”

People with issues they would like to have an opportunity to discuss more fully may request to be on an agenda. Oral or written requests must be submitted at least 10 days before the meeting, to allow time for research if needed. The board chairman determines which requests to grant.

Both policies were approved unanimously. During discussion of the meeting policy, the other three board members – Irene Belanger, Wayne Chadwick and Donna Mills-Stevens – expressed concern that residents might be discouraged from addressing the board by the limits on time and topics. All four selectmen agreed that they can amend the policy if it does not work as intended.

Hapgood said the policies will be added to the Town of China website.

In other business Jan. 6, Selectman Irene Belanger announced that the Thurston Park Committee welcomes volunteers to help with spring work in the park. Later, she and Four Seasons Club President Tom Rumpf discussed access to the park by club-maintained trails, with Mills-Stevens, who owns land nearby, joining the conversation. Rumpf said so far, abutters have refused permission to connect park trails to existing outside trails.

The Thurston Park Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the former portable classroom behind the town office. Interested residents are welcome at all committee meetings.

Rumpf was at the selectmen’s meeting to report on the club’s request for TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds for the next fiscal year. Proposed TIF expenditures will be part of the 2020-2021 budget discussions that begin this month.

Selectmen were scheduled to get the town manager’s draft of the budget at a special meeting Jan. 7. Their next regular meeting will be Tuesday evening, Jan. 21, since Jan. 20 is the Martin Luther King Day holiday.


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