Tisbury selectmen approve dog policy for town employees
After a three-week layoff of no meetings, Tisbury selectmen met Tuesday night. Not surprisingly, dog issues sprang up on the night's hefty agenda.
Town administrator John Bugbee called the selectmen's attention to a memo he sent them with a proposed policy governing dogs. Mr. Bugbee said in recent months it came to his attention that incidents involving town employees who bring dogs to work with them or leave them in town vehicles had reached the point that they present a risk to the town. The town's insurance agent agreed, Mr. Bugbee said.
"I can't condone this any longer," he added.
Selectman Geoghan Coogan, a lawyer, cut to the chase. "We all know about the harbormaster and his dog, so who else are we talking about?" Mr. Coogan asked, referring to a recent incident where Harbormaster Jay Wilbur's unleashed dog attacked another dog at the Owen Park dock (see "Tisbury employee's dog incident a personnel matter," M.V. Times, Nov. 25),
Mr. Bugbee said he preferred not to identify every employee by name, and that since others also bring their dogs to work, the memo should go out to everyone.
Mr. Coogan said that Mr. Wibur's dog problem was common knowledge. "I think it's fair that we air out everybody," he said.
Selectman Jeff Kristal suggested that the policy should be expanded to town boards, as well, because there have been incidents at the town hall annex when committee members bring their dogs with them to board meetings there.
"I'm wondering whether there's an issue for employees who don't have a facility for their dogs," selectman chairman Tristan Israel said.
Recalling a past long-running dog issue, someone in the back of the room quipped, "Send them to the dog park."
But there were no suggestions for possible doggy-daycare options. Mr. Israel said he would have to go along with the dog policy, although reluctantly.
The selectmen approved the policy with Mr. Kristal's suggested amendment, to be effective as soon as letters are sent out to town departments.
In other dog-related business, Mr. Bugbee provided an accounting of the costs incurred by the town in legal matters involving Siberian Husky dogs owned by Kenneth Garde, a board of health member, and his family, in response to a previous request by the selectmen.
Since August 2008, Mr. Bugbee said the town has spent $14,000, including $5,000 for the time he put in, and $9,091 for legal counsel. That amount does not include time put in by animal control officer Laurie Clements or assistant town administrator Aase Jones, Mr. Bugbee said.
In departmental reports, Fire Chief John Schilling said Santa Claus is coming to the Tisbury fire station's open house on Sunday at 1 pm. There will be hot dogs, cider, balloons, stockings, and an opportunity to get in a word with Old Saint Nick.
In an update on the shellfish department, Mr. Israel said the selectmen would hold a public hearing on December 15 regarding proposed changes in shellfish regulations from the shellfish advisory committee. Among the recommendations, applicants for commercial or residential shellfish permits would be required to provide three proofs of residency. Commercial shellfish permit applicants would be required to be domiciled in Tisbury for one year before applying for a permit and supply three proofs of residency. Family shellfish permit applicants would be required to do the same, with the added stipulation that they cannot sell shellfish that they harvest.
Proposed fee increases would raise a resident permit from $35 to $40, a senior permit from $5 to $15 and the age limit from 60 to 65, and a non-resident permit from $300 to $400.
Mr. Israel also said the selectmen intend to hire a new shellfish warden by the end of January. A search committee is working with the shellfish advisory committee to set up hiring criteria.
In other business, the selectmen also approved Mr. Bugbee's recommendation to pay acting interim shellfish constable Hillary Conklin a $3,000 stipend for her added responsibilities for about 10 hours a week for three months. They also approved Bill Straw's appointment to the Wastewater Planning Committee.
Tisbury Mural Committee member Don Amaral presented the selectmen with three framed submissions from the project contest. They had been donated to Tisbury to hang in town buildings. The committee suggested giving the Vineyard Haven Public Library first choice, which the selectmen approved.
Mr. Amaral said the mural project was completed entirely with donations, and has a balance of $2,200, which the committee recommends using for maintenance.
The selectmen also held a tax classification hearing at the start of the meeting, reported elsewhere in today's paper.