Marshfield: Petition articles to change the recreation fund fail at Special Town Meeting

Confusion over Marshfield’s recreation department budget may have  not ended at Thursday night’s Special Town Meeting but a close vote defeated the two-article warrant.

Marshfield resident Pam Keith brought on the Special Town Meeting, collecting more than 200 signatures for two citizen petition articles which would create a new revolving fund and then transfer recreation’s funds to the new account.

According to Keith, the recreation department’s revolving fund started with about $477,000 at the beginning of the fiscal year last July without all funds being accounted for, though Marshfield’s Town Accountant disagrees.

In fear of collected user fees being spent on other town expenses, Keith stated the new revolving fund would keep money within the department, not transferring excess to the town’s general fund and she believes a vote at the special meeting will be lawful to make the switch.

“There’s also language in the law that allows establishment during any time of the year. Cities who have a mayor are not bound by just one day of the year to set up these accounts and the intent of the law is, most likely, that towns governed by town meeting are not restricted to just one day either,” said Keith.

But Marshfield Town Counsel Bob Marzelli said he wasn’t convinced, because the vote needs to be at an annual meeting, “Based on that, we don’t have an annual town meeting, we don’t have a recommendation in favor from the Board of Selectmen. It’s my opinion under that statute, based on that language, the article cannot be lawfully adopted.”

And Selectmen Steve Robbins didn’t seem happy with Keith’s decision to move forward, regardless, with the town meeting, “Knowing the petition article was illegal, the petitioner continued obtaining over 200 signatures and they were submitted to the Board of Selectmen. Mass Law clearly states that the Selectmen in receipt of such petition shall call a Special Town Meeting. I would just like to thank all those involved with preparing and conducting the Special Town Meeting tonight. Great efforts have been used to keep the cost of this meeting as low as possible.”

The Board of Selectmen did not discuss the articles proposed by Keith because they said the matter is illegal.

Article one to adopt a new revolving fund failed in a 45-55% split. Article two, which needed Article one’s approval, also failed.

(Petitioner, Pam Keith)

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About Trisha McNeilly

With a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Boston under her belt, Trisha McNeilly joins us full-time as a general assignment and breaking news reporter having previously interned for WBZ-1030 AM in Boston. A South Shore resident her whole life, McNeilly grew up in Pembroke and is 22-years old.