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Council urges 5 on health board

Avoids possible landfill appeal

Councilors Richard Logan and Denise Clemence discuss issues surrounding the town’s landfill during Monday night’s meeting. Ryan Grannan-Doll. (click for larger version)
June 29, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — In a 6-3 vote, the Town Council approved recommending the charter be changed to "reflect" the fact the Board of Health has five seats, but it had previously rejected, 5-4, canceling the 2004 "reorganization" that gave it five in the first place.

"I'm not opposed to five members," said Chairman Steven Lazo, "but in 2004 I believe I made a mistake" in voting for the reorganization. He argued that, since then, "we never cleaned it up and did it right," adding he'd like to see the town seek special legislation to make such a change.

But to Richard Logan, the failure of the first motion made him "think the whole [second] agenda item doesn't make sense." He said he objected to the idea that a bylaw could trump the charter and that all charter changes should be "vested in the people of the town."

Town Attorney Robert Caprera said he agreed, but noted that he reads the process the council used years ago as being defined by the charter, because Section 4-3-2 gives the town manager authority to appoint board members "authorized by the General Laws, this charter or by-laws." The health board bylaw was formally changed in 2007, and Caprera noted that all council votes surrounding this issue over the years including the reorganization, the bylaw change and subsequent appointments have been unanimous. (The one exception was last year, when a split vote initially rejected reappointing Rinaldo Bernardone, but that wasn't because of this issue; he was later reappointed unanimously.)

Caprera said the simplest way to make a charter change would be to just recommend changing the number in Section 4-3-1 from three to five. That would "remove any further ground for dissension and discussion," he told them.

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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