Mashpee Town Meeting voters dispatched of 29 articles last night in little more than two hours, with the most contentious debate involving familiar issues: land and money.
But the most anticipated and expected debate of the evening—whether or not the town should consider withdrawing from the Cape Cod Commission—became anticlimactic after the petitioner, Selectman Thomas F. O’Hara, heavily amended, almost completely changing, the focus of the article.
There were 238 voters, or little more than 2.4 percent of the town’s registered voters, in attendance at Town Meeting, a slight increase over the past two meetings.
The 82 line item, $51.5 million town operating budget was approved with little controversy, with the exception of a “hold” placed on Town Clerk Deborah F. Dami’s salary.
During the town budget cycle earlier this year, Ms. Dami had been advocating for a 7.1 percent raise, which would increase the salary for the elected position from $63,433 to $68,000. That request, however, was rejected by Mashpee Town Manager Joyce M. Mason, who recommended that Ms. Dami receive a raise of $957, or approximately 1.5 percent.
Last night, three residents spoke in support of Ms. Dami, and the salary increase request was approved by a 136 to 62 hand count vote. Prior to the vote Ms. Mason issued a stern warning to voters, stressing that a 7.1 percent raise was considerably higher than other town employees were receiving. “You’re sending a message that our fore chief and police chief are not worthy of that much of a raise, and that the other town employees are not as worthy as her. Think about that before you vote,” she said.
A steady parade of nearly a dozen voters took to the microphone to speak against Article 15, which would have allowed the town’s treasurer to sell foreclosed properties at public auction, bypassing a Town Meeting vote regarding the disposition of such properties.
One of the article opponents, Beverly A. Kane, even went as far as to quote, albeit less vulgar, Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz’s famous line after last year’s Boston Marathon bombings. “This is our bleeping town,” she said, referring to her support of having voters maintain their say in which properties would be sold or maintained for conservation.
The article was overwhelmingly rejected by a voice vote.
The final article of the evening, the much-hyped question of whether the board of selectmen should place an article on the next election ballot asking whether voters would support withdrawal from the Cape Cod Commission, was changed significantly by Selectman O’Hara.
Mr. O’Hara, who is seeking reelection on May 17, amended the article to request that voters consider creating an ad hoc committee to analyze the town’s membership in the commission. The committee, in turn, would present its findings at the October Town Meeting.
Mr. O’Hara, in a campaign-like speech, explained from the floor the reasons why he sponsored the petition in the first place, emphasizing his issues with significant mitigation fees assessed on a proposed assisted living facility on Route 151.
Despite Mr. O’Hara’s address to the audience and his amended article proposal to create a committee, the article went down to a resounding defeat by a voice vote.