TOWNSEND -- After narrowly passing a new civil fingerprinting bylaw, voters reconsidered the article and rejected the law during the May 7 Town Meeting.
The law, submitted by the police chief, would require fingerprinting and a criminal background check for door-to-door salesmen, dealers of second-hand articles, alcoholic-beverage managers, operators of public conveyances, pawn dealers, hackney drivers and ice-cream vendors.
The results would be used by the police to issue licenses for these vendors. The fingerprint check, costing $100, would not be required for existing businesses, Chief Erving Marshall said. The process would be similar to the process of obtaining a firearms permit.
Critics of the legislation said the law did not specify clearly enough who would be required to be fingerprinted. "The way this is worded is just too broad," said Planning Board member Jeffrey Peduzzi.
"Change it. Let's amend it," said John Delaney of Delaney Antique Clocks. While the present chief might be clear who needs to be fingerprinted, a future chief could change the policies.
The bylaw squeaked by, 39 to 38, but was reopened later in the meeting. Perhaps not everyone understood what were very complex arguments, Richard Shuford said from the floor when he made the motion to reconsider.
After more discussion, the article was defeated 33 to 51.
A motion to amend the budget, changing the town administrator's salary raise from $95,000 as recommended by the Board of Selectmen to $86,000 as recommended by the Finance Committee failed. The administrator's salary will be raised from $80,000 to $95,000.
The new salary is still below the average for town administrators in similar towns, said Selectman Sue Lisio.
Resident Carolyn Sellars spoke in favor of the larger wage. People applauded after she said, "It's sad. We need to keep personal stuff out of politics."
A proposed amendment to the personnel bylaws was defeated. The bylaw was intended to put selectmen in charge of adopting and modifying personnel policies, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan.
The policies need updating and the present bylaw does not permit the board to go in and make changes, Lisio said.
The change would give the Board of Selectmen too much authority, Water Department Supervisor Paul Rafuse said. "They are already handing out contracts and acting as a personnel board."
Town employees would no longer work for their respective boards, "they work for you," said Chris Genoter, chairman of the Board of Health to the selectmen.
All other articles on the warrant were passed or had no action taken during the four-hour meeting.