HARVARD — Deborah Skauen-Hinchliffe applauded the Board of Selectmen’s decision to adopt a new policy aimed at minimizing their hands-on control of subcommittees.
“I think it’s a good move,” she said.
Joseph Sudol said he supports the decision, too, but also had words of wisdom that favor the other side of the issue. He compared the situation to a company owner who sets up committees and listens to their recommendations without interfering too much in the process.
However, he acknowledged “potential impacts” that call for oversight and advice.
These and other favorable comments from a roomful of residents followed the board’s vote at its May 20 meeting to adopt a policy that spells out the board’s role in subcommittees it appoints.
But Keith Cheveralls said he’s surprised the selectmen don’t know the origins of the Capital Plan Committee (CPC) Selectman Lucy Wallace has served on for years, off and on.
The Finance Committee was in charge of the group 11 years ago, said Wallace. But it seems to have since shifted to the selectmen’s domain.
Citing the turning point, she said a Finance Committee chairman once said to her at a meeting, “The Board of Selectmen is running this committee.”
It’s unclear, though, how the CPC fits into the big picture or who’s in charge now, said board members.
Wallace tried to explain. She said it’s a “working group” that tries to focus on one aspect of the budget.
But selectmen Chairman Leo Blair said it’s not registered with the town clerk.
The board didn’t sort out the matter during the meeting but indicated it will come up again.
Another issue discussed during the public comment period was The Bromfield School boilers, which selectmen have said must be replaced over the summer.
Voters will be asked to pass an article on the May 21 Special Town Meeting warrant that calls for $140,000 to do the work. But some people think that’s too much money in tight times when other avenues haven’t been adequately explored, such as a geothermal system.
Skauen-Hinchliffe asked if the job can wait until the fall, after the energy audit group has assessed the situation.
Blair said that’s an angle he’s struggled with. Even though there’s no doubt the school’s oil-burning system is in serious trouble, he said he doesn’t want people to think town officials are rushing into a pricey replacement or repair without “due diligence.”
He said another option was recently presented: gas. Keyspan has asked the town for permission to install new lines and upgrade existing gas lines that run by the school. Converting to gas heat has perks worth looking into, he said.
But Wallace reminded the board that although voters have the final say, this is a School Committee issue now.