Debate on Fees: Debate Was Healthy on Important Issue

We always have been impressed by the work on the Town Council by Councilor-at-Large Larry Powers who entered town government service after a distinguished career in public safety, many years spent as the Chief of the Winthrop Fire Department. Powers has demonstrated a keen knowledge of the issues that are important to Winthrop residents in their daily lives and it’s clear when he speaks out on a matter that he has “done his homework.” His leadership of the Council’s casino committee has also been exemplary and fair, as the committee sought out the opinions and viewpoints of residents about the possible construction of a $1 billion resort/casino at Suffolk Downs.

Councilor-at-Large Powers clearly articulated his feelings Tuesday night about the new fee schedule for town services, inspections, permits, certificates, etc. proposed by Town Manager James McKenna, who in collaboration with the town departments, had worked hard to formulate what they thought were reasonable fees — some of which hadn’t been increased in decades. Powers felt the fees should not be a revenue-generating source for the town, but rather to pay for the exact cost of the services that would be rendered. And it appeared Powers might sway his colleagues his way, but the Council, specifically Council President Peter Gill, Vice President Paul Varone, and Councilors Linda Calla, Nicholas DelVento, and Craig Mael gave the new fee schedule a vote of approval by a 5-2 margin. Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore voted for maintaining the current fee schedule.

We must say that our town manager, James McKenna, gave a persuasive and strong argument himself why the fees must be adjusted to bring them up to the current times and it’s clear he had looked at both sides of the issue and did what he felt was best for the town.

But it was a good, hearty debate and residents can know that issues before the council are being well-researched and and opitions are well thought-out before key votes are taken.

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