Council Supports Earlier Start Time for Meetings

By Adam Swift

Town Council meetings will soon begin a little earlier in the evening, but not quite as early as other board and commission meetings in the town.

Tuesday night, near the end of a three-hour meeting that began at 7 p.m., the council voted 6-3 to change the start time of its regular meetings to 6:30 p.m.

Council President Jim Letterie introduced the original motion to move the start time for the council meetings to 6 p.m. Precinct 4 Councillor Suzanne Swope amended the motion to the 6:30 p.m. start after several councilors raised concerns that it would be difficult for councilors or residents who work to make meetings beginning at 6 p.m.

“Almost every other board in town meets at six o’clock,” said Letterie.

In the past, Letterie said the major strike against starting the council meetings at 6 p.m. has been that the council has held subcommittee meetings prior to its regular meetings.

“That makes it tough for people trying to get out of work and trying to make a meeting at 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.,” said Letterie.

To remedy that issue, Letterie said the subcommittee meetings should be held on nights separate from the regular council meetings.

“That would give the subcommittees the time and due diligence to do the work that it’s supposed to do instead of trying to rush to get to the council meeting,” said Letterie.

Council Vice President Hannah Belcher said she understood Letterie’s reasoning for the proposed change, but she said she was concerned that an earlier start would make it harder for people to attend or watch the meetings.

“My fear is that this would be another barrier for people working outside the town,” she said.

Precinct 1 Councilor Pat Costigan also said the earlier start could be a detriment to people who work and are trying to make it to Winthrop through traffic.

Swope said she supported the 6 p.m. start, but offered up 6:30 p.m. as a compromise. She said she also supported holding subcommittee meetings on evenings when there is not a regular council meeting.

Letterie noted that the council could always adjust the time of the meetings if there was an issue. He added that the earlier start time would also benefit town employees such as the town manager and clerk who have to work a full day and then wait for the council meetings to begin at 7 p.m.

Belcher, Costigan, and Councilor-at-Large Max Tassinari voted against the earlier start time for the council meetings.

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