Selectmen Take First Look at Draft Fall Town Meeting Warrant
Two articles will likely be removed while Selectmen praised Fire Chief Michael Curran regarding a warrant article that will delay his retirement.
With Fall Town Meeting approaching in October, the Selectmen took a look at the 20 draft articles that Town Meeting Reps will deliberate upon, although it appears that number will likely be 18 before the warrant becomes finalized.
The first article to be removed was in regard to stipends for elected officials, with a proposal of $2,000 for board chairs and $1,800 for other board members that would not include health insurance or pensions.
Concerns over whether the stipends would be put retroactively into the current fiscal year’s budget brought a consensus among members on the board to request without a vote that the article be tabled until the 2013 Spring Town Meeting.
A lack of signatures from registered voters was the cause for the other article removal from the warrant as a citizen’s petition for rent control faced three signatures that did were deemed invalid by Town Clerk’s office.
Otherwise, the article gathering the most attention was a Home Rule petition request to postpone the retirement of Fire Chief Michael Curran.
Under current state law, he would be required to retire at the age of 65, which for Curran will occur next July.
Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen told the board that these requests are fairly common and would basically request an exception from the state law for this situation from the legislature for two years, with the matter hopefully being resolved one way or the other in the spring so the town can prepare if a new chief would be required.
Curran requested the petition both to help mentor younger members of the department into leadership roles as well as helping the town prepare for the new fire station.
Over the past few years, Curran explained that the department has lost over 100 years of experience from retirements of senior officers in the department and that a quarter of the department currently has less than a year’s experience on the job.
The Selectmen uniformly voiced approval for the article, and for Curran’s decision, during the meeting.
“I think it speaks to your personal character as well to put the town before yourself to be able to work you entire career and (when) retirement comes up, you put it aside to help mentor other individuals for your successorship as well as work on the new fire station,” said Selectman James Lane. “I applaud it.”
According to Cohen, if the measure is approved by Town Meeting and is then approved by the legislature, Curran would not gain any special considerations in regard to his pension and explained that he would likely lose money due to the career extension.