Manager required to take minutes

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RUMFORD – Selectmen voted to require the town manager to take the minutes of their twice-monthly meetings Thursday night.

Newly elected Selectman Frank DiConzo had pushed for the change at the last meeting, and since then, Town Manager Jim Doar has checked with the Maine Municipal Association for a legal opinion on such requirements.

He said the MMA’s interpretation of minute-taking meant that the town manager should act as secretary, but was not meant to be literal. In other words, the town manager could appoint someone to take the actual minutes while he would be ultimately responsible for the final product. Town manager secretary Terri Palme has been taking the minutes at selectmen’s meetings.

Doar said Thursday that he’d like to stick with the status quo so that he could continue to be fully engaged in meetings.

However, DiConzo said MMA’s opinion was just that.

“This new board has an opportunity to go by the charter until a change is made. So if the charter says the town manager should take minutes, he should do it,” DiConzo said.

Doar said a review of the past 40 years of selectmen’s meetings has shown that an appointed person took the actual minutes.

However, former Selectman Eugene Boivin said he remembers former town managers coming to meetings as early as 18 years ago with a piece of paper to take the motions, seconds and votes.

“It wasn’t a book or recitation,” he said.

Selectman Arthur Boivin said the current minutes are too lengthy.

Doar said Friday that he will begin taking the minutes at the July 19 meeting.

How that affects his involvement with issues discussed at the meeting will be learned then, he said.

He said he hopes new microphones will be installed soon so that discussions will be better recorded. Those tapes, along with his notes, would then be given to Palmer for transcription.

Selectmen Boivin, DiConzo and Mark Belanger voted to require the town manager to take the minutes. Selectman Brad Adley voted against the motion. As chairman, Greg Buccina does not vote unless there is a tie.

He did say, however, that he wants the town manager to be as engaged in the meeting as possible.

In other matters Thursday, the board heard an update on the progress being made by the Land Use Ordinance Committee on a section of the town’s ordinances dealing with land use codes that include such things as designating historic, commercial, agricultural and other districts.

Committee Chairman Joseph Roberts said that the nine-member committee has been reviewing the 40-page document page-by-page and sometimes word-by-word for about a year.

The goal, Doar said Friday, is to get the document ready for selectmen action by April 2008, then send the changes to voters in June.

Because committee members must be appointed every year, selectmen will advertise for interested applicants, conduct interviews, then make appointments on July 19.

Selectmen also agreed to donate $200 to the Maine Veterans Home in Paris.

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