WINTHROP – The Ordinance Review Committee met for the first time last Wednesday night to start the process of reviewing how the local government is working since the town changed its form of government 10 years ago.
Only a handful of people turned out but a common theme came out – reduce the number of people on the town council and the school committee. One resident wrote in also suggesting term limits and stipends for councilors. Two women even came in to discuss snow removal on private ways and snow removal in general.
“The charter calls for a period of review,” said chairman Joseph Boncore, adding that nine people have been selected to serve. “We will always take information anytime from anyone.”
Those serving on the committee include Heather Engman, David Stasio, Tom Rielly, Paul Varone, Carla Vitale, Karen Chavez, Jason Deeb and Michael Power. Also sitting in was Town Counsel Betsy Lane, of Kopelman & Page.
The committee plans to meet the second and the fourth Tuesday of each month. Information pertaining to the committee and its work will be on the town’s website under the boards and committees section. The first half of the committee’s work will focus on changes to the charter.
“Changes will be on the ballot for August,” Boncore said. After that the committee will work on town ordinances.
Town Manager James McKenna also submitted a letter suggesting the authority of council president be strengthened, especially in the case of calling for a state of emergency. Under town ordinances, McKenna also made suggestions regarding parking in the George Street parking lot, snow removal on public ways and implementing a width for snow clearance that takes into consideration those with handicaps.
Precinct 4 resident Jean Maggio said she agrees with term limits but she also believes that every councilor become an at-large councilor instead of representing a precinct. She also wanted it to be clear the Board of Health has authority to create its own rules and regulations without a challenge or change from the town council.
Town Councilors Craig Mael and Phil Boncore both shared that they like the idea of a precinct councilor and a stipend. Phil Boncore also threw out ideas to consider – should Winthrop have a mayor? Council President Peter Gill said he agrees in decreasing the number of councilors. But Precinct 5 resident Bob Driscoll didn’t think reducing the council was a good idea.
“We used to have 200 at Town Meeting,” Driscoll said. “I don’t think we should reduce the size of the council.”
“Government is working well now,” said Councilor Phil Boncore. “Everything is going well at this time. Don’t change too much because we are doing well.”
The Ordinance Review Committee will meet again on Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. in the Harvey Meeting room of town hall.