C-O-MM Fails To Meet Quorum, Leaving Pro-Library Vote Intact

In the end, voters in the Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills Fire District made their decision on the library controversy by doing nothing.

When an attempt to resume the May 17 district annual meeting failed last evening when the 100-person quorum was not reached, district moderator Charles Sabatt dissolved the meeting.

Mr. Sabatt said the dissolution of the meeting meant that all the votes taken during the May 17 session stood.

That included a vote in favor of a proposal to request the district prudential committee to ask the state Legislature to pass legislation enabling the district to provide supplementary funding to the village libraries within the district.

The May 17 annual meeting, and the attempt to resume it, was held at the West Villages Elementary School in Marstons Mills.

The decisions of the May 17 meeting had been hanging in limbo since that meeting lost its quorum with a motion to reconsider the positive library legislative vote still on the table.

The prudential committee had recommended that the meeting not pass the library legislative proposal based on a legal opinion provided by the district’s attorney, J. Douglas Murphy of Hyannis.

Mr. Murphy had researched the question of whether C-O-MM could provide funding to libraries inside the district, and said, in his opinion, the district could not.

Advocates of the proposal, aware that the neighboring Cotuit Fire District had been providing just that sort of assistance to the Cotuit library for 60 years, doubted Mr. Murphy’s opinion.

At this spring’s annual meeting of the Cotuit Fire District on May 25, Cotuit voters again provided a stipend to the library.

This year, the stipend totaled $15,410.

Because of Cotuit’s record of supporting their library, advocates of the proposal in the C-O-MM fire district called for the prudential committee to request the enabling legislation, and to modify the request as needed if the Legislature rejected the initial request.

At the May 17 meeting, district residents voted 43-34 in favor of the proposal.

But then a member of the prudential committee who had voted for the proposal, James H. Crocker Jr., moved for reconsideration.

During the vote on reconsideration, a question arose whether the meeting still had its 100-voter quorum.

A quorum count revealed 94 voters were present, six shy of a quorum.

Mr. Sabatt then decided not to end the meeting, but to adjourn it to a specific time and place: at 7 PM yesterday at the school.

The district not only notified the voters attending the May 17 meeting of the future time and place, but advertised the time and place for the continuation of the meeting.

By 7:30 PM yesterday, however, the meeting still had failed to reach a quorum, leading Mr. Sabatt to dissolve the meeting.

Deborah Schilling, president of the board of trustees of the Marstons Mills Public Library, last night welcomed the outcome of events.

Ms. Schilling said visits and circulation were up at the library despite the economic recession.

She said the library could use additional financial help from the district.

Advocates have not specified a desired funding amount for the three libraries in the district: the Centerville Public Library, the Marstons Mills Public Library, and the Osterville Village Library.

Instead, they want to put a mechanism in place to allow the voters to provide some sort of funding.

Given the votes from the last meeting, the fire department budget for the coming fiscal year is $6.7 million and the water department budget is $1.8 million.

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