Town meeting rejects finance committee change, bottle ban

The wastewater planning article passed, the continued renovation to the senior center passed, the union contract negotiations and Community Preservation Act grant to purchase land at Tobey Farm all passed at the Dennis town meeting this week. But a third time was not the charm for some proposals.

Once again, a citizen petition to change the composition of the Dennis Finance Committee from all appointed to majority elected was put forward. It failed, 159 to 375.

The article sparked a lot of discussion about the committee. All seven members are appointed by the town moderator. The committee examines financial articles, and, with the select board, they draw up the town budget. This is not unusual; the majority of town finance committees operate exactly this way. The article proposed four elected and three appointed members, so the town electorate would have more say in the town budget. But why?

Cynthia Stead

The finance committee is sometimes imbued with almost magical powers to control spending. But the Dennis Finance Committee mirrors the electorate, who have voted again and again for warrant articles that keep spending at a minimum and maintain the lowest tax rate possible. The committee is advisory, and its opinion can and has been ignored by town meeting voters. But overall it was a bad night to attribute them with Svengali-like powers in an effort to persuade town meeting voters not to spend money.

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