“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That’s what Hanson Town Administrator Rene Read said about restoring civil service rules and regulations to the town’s police department. Monday night, Hanson held a special town meeting and the last article on the warrant referred to changing the police department to a civil service department.
Officer Dan Godwin explained that if the community passed the article it would be at no cost to the town but would merely provide lay-off protection and priority hiring of Hanson residents, “We all remember last year when the town was looking to lay off five officers. Under our current non-civil service status those officers would not be able to apply to the vast majority of the surrounding local police departments. If Hanson Police Department was placed back into civil service, officers then would be able to go on a state wide rehire layoff list.”
However Administrator Read argued that there are many flaws within the state run unit as opposed to their current local operation, “Town meeting voted out civil service for the police department in 1981 for several reasons; one of which it took several months, sometimes as long as a year, to fill vacancies both entry level and promotional. Civil service today is characterized today by the same, if not worse, delays.”
In a close vote of 56 to 64, Hanson residents rejected the article. The entire selectmen board voted against changing the police department to a civil service.
Article 9 also sparked interest in residents as to why the town wanted to replenish the reserve fund after paying for a government study that was never voted on by the community.
Administrator Read explained that because the town lost a vital employee earlier this year, a study was necessary to see if departments could be combined to replace the position, “It was an expense that could have been extraordinary or unforeseen. I could not predict that the town planner would resign.”
Hanson resident Ralph Becker thought the action by town officials was unnecessary and inappropriate to approve the study without consent of the community, “I don’t have a problem with them coming back and offering to have that study done with free cash or wherever else they want to take it from that’s a valid place to take it from. The reserve fund is not a valid to take it from. It’s quite well-defined by the Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue states that is for emergencies.”
After much discussion, the article did pass to replenish the reserve fund. The cost of the survey was not given. But Administrator Read stated that the results should be ready for the next town meeting in May.