Selectmen to consider bringing back public comment

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DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen agreed Monday evening to vote Jan. 28 whether or not to put public comments back on the agenda.

Chairman Mac Gill told the board that if they were to put public comments back on the agenda, it would have to be different than before.

“I’m willing to do it, but there needs to be ground rules,” Gill said. “It was embarrassing before to see some of the things that happened.”

Before the meeting, Gill drafted a set of notes that offered new rules should the board decide to vote to put public comments on the agenda. He gave a copy to each selectman and told them, “Take it home, look at it, add your own thoughts to it and during our next meeting, we can decide if it’s something we want to do.”

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Among the rules Gill wrote were having a limit on the amount of time each person speaks, as well as a limit on the number of people who speak at each meeting. Gill suggested that they allow each resident a maximum of five minutes, limit the number of speakers to four people per meeting and not allow minutes to be transferred from one resident to another.

Gill also suggested there be “no foul language, intimidation or threats when a resident speaks.”

The board also unanimously voted to table discussion on the disbursement of Charlotte Collins’ sick leave and personal days. Collins retired Jan. 11 after serving 36 years as deputy treasurer, secretary and administrative assistant among other roles.

Selectman Scott Belskis said the town personnel policy needed clarification before any of Collins’ sick leave or personal days could be given out.

“One section of the policy states that ‘all accumulated credits must be forfeited upon termination,’” Belskis said. “In a different spot, however, it says that it’s possible to disburse the credits, with a maximum donation of 40 hours per employee, and that the employee wishing to retire must submit an application to the town manager if they wish to disburse it.”

Gill agreed, explaining that the disbursement of hours has “never been done before here” and “before setting a precedent, we need to make sure our policy isn’t saying two different things.”

Gill suggested that the board table discussion on the matter until they receive a legal opinion on the policy.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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