The Stoneham Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday night at Town Hall covered a lot of territory, including a discussion with Finance Advisory Board chairperson John Carino, a look into a new dedication committee to honor town employees and outstanding citizens and express their displeasure with how NSTAR handled local power outages during Hurricane Irene.
Finance Board Chair Upset Over Last-Minute Changes
Carino, after expressing a need for updated electronic copies of complete budgetary information including town employee line items in the budget and Stoneham teachers' and administration staffers' salaries, was concerned over changes in warrant articles from the time the finance board submits them and Town Meeting.
“We are fearful of deliberations that occur 30 minutes before Town Meeting that change warrant articles without our consent,” Carino said.
The Selectmen responded by explaining that money figures are never stagnant and change at a moment's notice are occasionally unavoidable.
The finance board wants to be more informed concerning any last- minute changes, Carino said, citing May's Town Meeting where several warrant articles changed right before the meeting without the board's approval.
“They have a due date for a reason for each Town Meeting,” Carino said. “It's unfair to (the) town's people to come to Town Meeting prepared to vote with a booklet with improper information.”
The Selectmen explained they would do whatever was in their power to remedy the situation.
Restarting the Dedication Committee
Selectmen chairperson Paul Rotondi led a conversation on recreating a dedication committee. Rotondi wanted a committee composed of one selectmen, one member of the historical commission, one member of the historical society, two citizens and one other town employee, to lead a new group dedicated to finding remembrance sites for longtime town employees, businesses, elected officials and outstanding citizens.
“The committee would be the focal point for the board of selectmen that would recommend which people to honor with a plaque, bench or what have you in order to remember their dedication to Stoneham,” Rotondi said. “We've had town employees who have worked here over 30 years with no kind of remembrance.”
The Selectmen unanimously approved Rotondi's motion.
Selectmen Upset with NSTAR
The Selectmen were not pleased with how NSTAR handled power outages in town during Hurricane Irene.
“We didn't have a good experience with NSTAR with this storm,” Selectmen John DePinto said.
DePinto and his fellow selectmen were upset that an unnamed nursing home went without power from the height of the storm mid-Sunday afternoon until 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
“I thought their service was horrendous,” DePinto continued. “Telling old people just to go to the hospital and they won't come down and help them is unacceptable.”
Rotondi echoed DePinto's sentiment, saying, “NSTAR has been abominable throughout our business with them.”
The selectmen will contact Gov. Deval Patrick and various state representatives to tell them about their unhappiness with NSTAR's service during Irene. They want NSTAR to re-prioritize their emergency situation response and deal with the sick and elderly first and foremost.
The selectmen also planned to send a request for a meeting with NSTAR representatives tentatively slated for Sept. 27 to talk about Stoneham and its partnership with the energy supplier.