Abington Special Town Meeting started off nearly an hour late because of a lack of quorum and Maureen Jansen, Chair of the Finance Committee, believes a proposed ethics bylaw, which she calls unnecessary, would only further cause participation problems in town.
Article 17 was proposed by the town Bylaw Review Committee and asked that Abington voters adopt ethical standards that all employees and volunteers would need to abide to. However, all town workers are already held accountable to the Massachusetts state ethics law.
But the proposed standards also state that employees and volunteers would need to disclose with the Abington Town Clerk if they approach a board, committee, or another town worker on behalf of someone else. Jansen says the ethics proposal raises privacy concerns, “Say if I was on a committee and I was going to go talk to another committee about a friend or someone who didn’t want to disclose who they were, maybe it was a domestic abuse type of thing, I would have to put that person’s name right out there for public. The Finance Committee thought that was really not something that supported ethics.”
The article failed on town meeting floor. However Selectmen Chair Andrew Burbine, along with other town officials like the Town Manager, thought the proposal wasn’t too overbearing. “I would like to have seen it passed. I don’t think it’s a very onerous thing to do. It’s just a reiteration of the state law,” says Burbine
The ethics proposal has been lingering around Abington for about a year and was put in front of voters this past spring however because a lack of quorum at Annual Town Meeting it was never voted on.
All 17 articles on the Abington Special Town Meeting warrant were successfully voted on with one night.
Voters approved transferring a little more than $400,000 into the town’s stabilization fund. Abington voters also approved transferring about $350,000 into a trust fund that will be spent towards capital improvements. Two police cruisers will be replaced and the roof at the Fire Department, as well as at the High School, will be sealed because of storm damage.