Oak Buffs town executive clears up misconceptions
The Oak Bluffs selectmen met with the personnel board, approved a reconstruction plan for the Island Queen ferry parking lot, and discussed a proposed non-binding referendum concerning the shark tournament, in a long and well-attended meeting Tuesday night.
Town administrator Michael Dutton offered a detailed explanation of a situation that he said had caused a stir around town this week regarding building inspector Jerry Weiner and other issues raised in a Vineyard Gazette article titled, "Town Administrator Grants a Pay Raise to Building Official," printed last Friday.
In October Mr. Weiner received a pay raise that was previously approved as a line item in the budget at town meeting, and was supposed to go into effect last July. The raise was not activated at that time, so Mr. Dutton effected that change last fall.
The Gazette article also reported that four department heads received bonuses, and signed off on those bonuses themselves. Mr. Dutton said that was a "misconception and completely wrong," and "does not happen." The town administrator and at least one selectman authorized the merit-based compensation bonuses, which were granted over a year ago before Mr. Dutton held his current position, he said.
"There are a series of checks there that allows me to tell you that nothing unethical, or certainly illegal, was done," Mr. Dutton said indignantly.
All five selectmen individually thanked Mr. Dutton for the clarifications. "I think going to you is a much more efficient way to handle these issues than running to the newspaper and blowing it up," selectman Greg Coogan said.
The board unanimously approved a plan to reconfigure the parking area where Seaview Avenue Extension and Circuit Avenue Extension meet next to the south jetty. Renee Balter, head of the parking and traffic committee, presented plans that call for the removal of the guardrail next to the Island Queen ferry, drop-off and pick-up parking spaces, and a pedestrian walkway. Highway superintendent Richard Combra Jr. said 90 percent of the work could be done with the existing highway department budget.
"Should the town of Oak Bluffs continue to allow the use of town property for the use of shark tournaments?" was the suggested phrasing for a non-binding referendum to be placed on the April town meeting warrant, proposed by selectman chairman Duncan Ross. Finalized warrant articles are due Feb. 9. The selectmen meet next on Feb. 6.