Tisbury selectmen appoint George Balco port council representative
As 2008 draws to a close, the Tisbury selectmen ushered in some changes for the new year ahead at a meeting Tuesday night, appointing a new Port Council representative and a new assistant fire chief.
Following interviews with four candidates, the selectmen appointed George Balco, the former long-serving chairman of Tisbury's finance and advisory committee, as the town's representative on the Port Council for a two-year term.
The Port Council is an advisory panel to the Steamship Authority (SSA) board. It is made up of one representative from each of the boat line's seven member ports and meets once a month in Hyannis or Woods Hole.
The other candidates included Tisbury health agent Tom Pachico, a former selectman who served as the port council representative for the last six years, Tisbury's building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick, and Alan Wilson, owner of Island Tire and Auto Service.
Mr. Pachico was first appointed to the newly formed port council in 2002 as an interim appointee, following a change in the SSA's enabling legislation that added a New Bedford voting member. Although there was some discussion about opening up the process to applicants other than a selectman, Mr. Pachico was reappointed in 2003 and again in 2005.
When the port council representative appointment came up again in December 2006, Denys Wortman, then the newest selectman serving on the board with Mr. Pachico and Tristan Israel, questioned why there had been no advance notice or public advertisement about the job.
At that time, Mr. Israel defended the board's practice of not advertising a position when there is a selectman who wants the job or who already has been doing it. The three selectmen voted unanimously to reappoint Mr. Pachico to another two-year term.
This time around, the port council job was advertised. On Tuesday night, Mr. Wortman opened the interview process as selectman chairman by reading the Port Council's mission statement, which references the organization's role in reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating the SSA's budgetary and financial affairs and offering guidance and advice on financial matters.
After the selectmen interviewed the four candidates,
Mr. Israel spoke in favor of reappointing Mr. Pachico. Mr. Kristal and Mr. Wortman, however, supported Mr. Balco.
"It's going to take someone with a financial background moving forward, and someone with a fresh outlook," Mr. Kristal said.
"I think Tom's done a good job, and we worked together well, but I think sometimes change is a good idea," said Mr. Wortman. "In looking at what is the right decision at this time, my vote would be to support George."
Mr. Israel said although he was disappointed Mr. Pachico was not the board's choice, he would vote for Mr. Balco to make it unanimous.
Photo by Denys Wortman
The promotion of Ladder Truck Captain Russell Maciel to assistant fire chief provided the highlight of the evening. The selectmen approved Mr. Maciel's promotion at the recommendation of Fire Chief John Schilling at a meeting two weeks ago.
In a ceremony Tuesday night, Chief Schilling noted that after 38 years of service with the ladder company, Mr. Maciel represents the first of its members to be sworn in as an officer.
"Russell's quiet and thoughtful leadership, combined with a steady and even demeanor, will serve the Tisbury Fire Department and the town of Tisbury well as our new assistant chief," Mr. Schilling said.
Town clerk Marion Mudge swore in Mr. Maciel, and his wife Sharon pinned on his new rank.
The audience included their children, son Kenny, who was recently voted captain of Tisbury's Ladder 651 Company, and their daughter Amy, as well as many members of Tisbury's fire department.
Following the promotion ceremony, the selectmen heard a year-end report from Ned Orleans, their appointed representative to the Martha's Vineyard Commission, and voted to reappoint him for another one-year term.
Turning to business matters, Tisbury tax collector Tim McLean told the selectmen that several Vineyard Haven business owners have asked him why the town is charging them a 5-percent interest rate on loans for paying sewer betterment fees over 20 years.
Since Tisbury received a zero-percent interest rate on its loan for the cost of the entire sewer system project, state law allows towns to vote an optional rate of 2-percent interest above the rate charged for the borrowed funds.
The selectmen approved Mr. McLean's suggestion to bring the issue before voters at town meeting next spring and instructed town administrator John Bugbee to draft a warrant article.
The selectmen also approved Mr. McLean's suggestion for another warrant article asking voters to approve the attachment of delinquent sewer system user fees to tax bills as a legitimate lien.
In other talk about sewage, the selectmen discussed a letter from Wayne Lamson and Steve Sayers protesting the SSA's $211,000 sewer betterment fee. Mr. Israel noted that the letter said the SSA is exempt from paying tax and suggested that the town use embarkation money to pay the betterment fee.
Mr. Israel said town counsel has been consulted, and that he also contacted Vineyard SSA member Marc Hanover. "I would hope this is not the road the Steamship Authority wants to go down - I know they don't like the embarkation fee, but get over it," he said.
On a more somber note, Transit Authority board member and Council on Aging member Constance Teixeira called everyone's attention to the problem of a lack of shelter for homeless people in Tisbury.
"The churches can't get insurance and have to close their doors - what do we do with them?" she asked. "We need something tonight - it's getting cold - maybe the school gym?"
Ms. Teixeira suggested setting up cots in the Tisbury School gymnasium and having someone there as a monitor from dusk to dawn. Mr. Israel suggested that she talk to Tisbury School principal Richie Smith about her idea. He also said the selectmen will bring up the homeless issue at the next All-Island Selectmen's meeting in January.
"We're looking for help - if people have places to suggest or ideas, let us know," Mr. Israel added.