LINCOLNVILLE ─ The bulk of the Select Board’s 90-minute meeting Jan. 25 was spent on process-related issues ─ a proposal for term limits for municipal officers and another for a remote/hybrid meeting policy. Both issues generated some heat among board members.

Board member Jordan Barnett-Parker introduced the term limits proposal, saying he thought limiting members to three consecutive, three-year terms with no lifetime cap would encourage more townspeople to get involved, which he would like to see. He added that it was serving on the Budget Committee and then the Broadband Committee that led him to run for Select Board.

Both Vice Chair Keryn Laite Jr. and Chair Ladleah Dunn opposed the idea. Laite noted that it is hard to fill committees, and implementing term limits would be “like pushing volunteers away … plus, you need experience (to serve on the Select Board).”

Dunn said there have been hardly any contested Select Board races in recent years; she saw no need even to spend the money to consult the town’s attorney about the issue.

Town Administrator Dave Kinney said he thought it would take two or three hours of town attorney Sally Daggett’s time to prepare an opinion on the matter.

Board member Josh Gerritsen wanted to explore the proposal by getting an opinion from Daggett and seeking the views of residents. He said he would not want to see limits on unelected boards, commissions and committees.

The board voted 3-2, with Dunn and Laite opposed, to ask Daggett for an opinion on what would be involved in changing the town’s charter to implement term limits for the Select Board.

Gerritsen introduced the item regarding a remote/hybrid meeting policy, which he noted the board had discussed a few times previously. Just prior to the meeting, he had shared with the other members an email (which he also provided to The Republican Journal) from Budget Committee Secretary Robyn Tarantino, who said she was writing “as a private citizen and not on behalf of the Budget Committee,” regarding the difficulty of getting a quorum for in-person meetings because of the high prevalence of COVID-19 in the area.

The email said, in part, “Maintaining infrastructure (human and technological) that maximizes the safety, accessibility and community participation in our town governance is a must have, not a nice to have, as far as our budgeting priorities are concerned.”

Dunn observed that the Budget Committee is not required to meet until March and that committee members have typically been invited to attend Select Board meetings where department heads make their budget requests.

Barnett-Parker said he had heard requests from members of several committees for a remote/hybrid meeting policy, adding that he would like the board to set a date for a public hearing on such a policy. He pointed out that many committee members are older and at higher-than-average risk for COVID. After describing the laptop and camera required to allow for hybrid meetings, Gerritsen said he would be willing to run the equipment. “We have committee members who are begging us ─ ‘we want to serve, but we’re scared,’” he said.

The group reviewed the rules concerning such meetings: Under state law, all-remote meetings are only permissible in certain narrowly defined emergency situations, whereas hybrid meetings are allowed, as long as at least one board or committee member is present in person at the designated meeting place. The chairman of the given body has the authority to decide whether a meeting will be in a hybrid format.

Gerritsen added, “I think the public would be happier if we implement something rather than nothing.”

Ray suggested having Daggett review the draft meeting policy presented to board by Kinney Sept. 13, 2021, which lays out the conditions for all-remote and hybrid meetings, to make sure it is in line with state law. Both Dunn and Gerritsen agreed. Dunn added that it was important to understand the potential consequences and liabilities of adopting a new meeting policy.

The board approved directing Daggett to review the Sept. 13, 2021, draft policy.

Board members also heard from Susan Silverio of the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee, who said the committee is assessing which items have been completed from the 2006 plan and wanted to know which tasks assigned to the Select Board had been accomplished and what remained to be done. Gerritsen suggested going over the list in a separate workshop, to which the other members agreed. Kinney and Ray will go through the plan and determine what has already been done and what may have become irrelevant, and a date for a workshop will be set at a future board meeting.

At Barnett-Parker’s instigation, the board had asked the Wage and Personnel Policy Board to look into having the town provide term life insurance for the town’s 28 call firefighters. The board reviewed two possible providers, recommending a plan from The Hartford Insurance Co. offered through Maine Municipal Association. In the end, the board decided to take the other option, underwritten by The Provident Insurance Co. and offered by Green Insurance, because the death benefit of $100,000 was twice that of the Hartford policy.

Barnett-Parker said the town owed that level of coverage to “the people who are on call to save our lives in several different ways.”

The board approved included the cost of the insurance in the budget for the next fiscal year.

In other business, the board renewed the liquor license for McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack and appointed Stephen Hand to the Budget Committee.

Finally, Gerritsen reported that the Broadband Committee had been approved for a grant of $6,500 from the Island Institute, which will help pay for a broadband feasibility study to be done by Axiom Technology.

The last item on the agenda was an executive session to conduct an annual performance evaluation on Kinney. The manager told TRJ no action was taken as a result of the session.

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14, at the Town Office.

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