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Lisio named to Townsend FinCom as moderator seeks legal ruling

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

By Chris Lisinski

clisinski@nashobavalleyvoice.com

TOWNSEND — About a month after four members of Townsend’s Finance Committee decided to leave in protest, one of the seats has been filled by Sue Lisio, a former selectman and School Committee member.

The other three, however, will take some more time since Town Moderator John Barrett, who traditionally appoints the Finance Committee, is waiting for clarification from town counsel on the process.

In an email, Lisio, who served as chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen before losing her re-election race in April 2015, said she thought about volunteering “quite a bit” before deciding to do so. She hopes to bring a combination of experience and creative thinking to the position.

“I truly enjoyed working on the Finance team a couple of years ago,” she wrote. “I think I can contribute to this effort as well, and I’m certainly going to try.”

Lisio emphasized in her email that she wants to work with data and trends to ensure “focus(ing) on the priorities objectively and without emotion.”

“We need to think outside the box and come up with solid ways to actually increase our revenues and ease the burden to the taxpayer, especially to the aging population of homeowners,” she wrote. “It’s something (Board of Selectmen Chairwoman) Carolyn (Smart) and I have agreed on for some time and we all know it’s going to take working together with all the boards, committees, and our community to make it happen.”

Lisio takes the seat vacated by former Finance Committee Chairman Don Klein, who asked not to be re-appointed, citing concerns over the town’s hiring process for Town Administrator James Kreidler as his rationale.

Former members Nancy Rapoza, Mary Letourneau and Gini King also resigned toward the end of May. Rapoza wrote a brief letter stating “unhappy with the direction Townsend is going in and feel(s) (she) can (be) more effective in other ways.” On that letter, Letourneau and King wrote by hand that they also resigned immediately.

None of the three responded to requests for comment.

And while Barrett wants to fill those seats, he doesn’t feel ready to do so — at least not until he gets some clarification from the town’s legal counsel. The town’s bylaws state whenever a Finance Committee seat is vacated mid-term, the position “shall be filled by said Committee by the appointment of a person to serve until the close of the next Annual Town Meeting, when the Moderator thereof shall appoint … a successor to fill out the unexpired term of the person whose office has been vacated.”

In Barrett’s reading, that means the remaining members of the Finance Committee need to appoint new members now since the next Annual Town Meeting is not until next spring. Barrett said in the past, the Finance Committee has deferred that responsibility to the moderator. But he wants to be sure before he makes any move.

“It’s kind of crazy,” he said. “I have a question about how that would go, and I have asked the TA if we can get an opinion from town counsel.”

However, there’s another obstacle to filling those three seats: there has only been one additional applicant so far. So if anyone in town is interested, they should step up.

“Quite frankly, if anybody is willing to volunteer, they’d get appointed at this point,” Barrett said.