THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – FriDAy, MAy 17, 2024 Page 7 Town Meeting 2024 D “Community Engagement” article wins by just one vote By Mark E. Vogler oes Saugus need a special committee to generate more public involvement in civic matters – like voting or running for elective offi ce? As innocuous as Article 23 appears on the warrant for this year’s Annual Town Meeting, first-term Member Matthew Parlante’s proposal to create a Community Engagement Committee was one of the more contentious issues discussed during Monday night’s (May 13) Session 2 of the Annual Town Meeting. It initially passed by a slim 2119 margin. But near the end of the meeting, Town Counsel John Vasapolli said a question had surfaced about the hand count so the moderator wanted another vote. A recount of the vote later determined the article prevailed by just a 2221 margin. “You don’t really need a community discussion group,” longtime Town Meeting Member Robert J. Long of Precinct 4 said in an unsuccessful motion urging members to refer the article back to its maker, Parlante of Precinct 2. “Saugus is a very active town,” Long said. But Precinct 2 Town Meeting Member Peter A. Rossetti, Jr., another veteran member, said he saw the value in Parlante’s proposal. “I think it’s a good thing. It doesn’t cost anything. It might encourage more people to get involved,” Rossetti said. Parlante said the purpose of his 10-member committee is to increase civic engagement through educational forums and existing town public events. His proposal stipulates that the town moderator will appoint one member from each of the 10 town precincts to meet bimonthly, participate in two public events (like an information table at Founders Day) and also hold an educational forum prior to the 2025 Annual Town Meeting. The committee lacks a budget and its recommendations will be nonbinding. “This is an opportunity to create something different around here,” Parlante told his colleagues. Precinct 7 Town Meeting Member Frank V. Federico stressed “there’s really no downside … if we can get residents more involved.” Parlante’s proposal (Article 22) to create an 11-person Charter Review Committee received far less support. Long made a motion to refer the article back to its maker, which passed by a 39-6 vote. Several Town Meeting members objected to the provision that prevented town employees who are Town Meeting members from serving on the committee. “My primary concern is stopping 18 people on this body from serving on this committee,” Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Peter Manoogian said. ARGUING HIS CASE: Precinct 2 Town Meeting Member Matthew Parlante briefed his colleagues at Monday’s Annual Town Meeting session on his proposal to have a special committee to educate and encourage more citizen participation in town civic matters. (Saugus Advocate photo by Mark E. Vogler) Parlante said he doesn’t have anything against people working for the town. “Being new, it just makes sense to me to have the most unbiased committee we can have,” he said. “I don’t see anything wrong with Town Meeting members working for the town,” he said. RON’S OIL Call For PRICE MELROSE, MA 02176 NEW CUSTOMER’S WELCOME ACCEPTING VISA, MASTERCARD & DISCOVER (781) 397-1930 OR (781) 662-8884 100 GALLON MINIMUM

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