Tiny Gosnold Hosts Annual Meeting
By JIM HICKEY
In a small island community known for its largely dissent-free brand of government, the Gosnold annual town meeting Monday promises to be more of the same.
Gosnold town officials this week said this year's town meeting warrant has no real hot-button issues. All 11 articles on the warrant appear to be largely pedestrian at first reading, which seems to be the norm in this town that includes the six Elizabeth Islands and is the seventh town in Dukes County.
"I can't see any real controversies this year," said Stuart Fuller, chairman of the Gosnold finance committee. "[Our town meetings] are generally pretty tame."
The meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Gosnold town hall on Cuttyhunk.
By tradition, the finance committee will not sign off on a final town budget until the last Saturday before town meeting, which is tomorrow. Mr. Fuller said the draft budget is approximately $1.2 million, which represents only a slight increase over this year's operating budget of approximately $1.1 million.
The budget is expected to include $80,000 to purchase a new electric generator which was damaged this winter by a fire inside the generator house. Although insurance will cover the cost of repairing the building, funds must be appropriated to buy a new generator. Over the past several years, the town has set aside money to start replacing town generators, although the recent fire has forced officials to start doing so sooner than expected.
The diesel generators are the primary source of electricity for Gosnold residents.
Mr. Fuller said the finance committee and selectmen are currently working together with a long range planning committee to explore whether it is time for a major upgrade to all the town generators. One possibility would be to purchase cleaner and more efficient new generators, and to also consider alternative energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.
"It's just something we want to talk more about. It's all very preliminary, but we do feel there should at least be a conversation about alternative energy sources - the concept makes sense for a small island community like Gosnold," Mr. Fuller said.
Voters will also elect various town officers, including one selectman who will also serve on the board of health. Incumbent selectman Malcolm (Mac) Davis reportedly plans to seek reelection. Gosnold is one of the last towns in the commonwealth that still nominates and elects town officers on the town meeting floor, a throwback to an earlier era.
Town clerk Elise Wright said voters can nominate and elect any registered voter for office at town meeting, as opposed to most other towns where candidates must file paperwork and are elected at an annual town election held on a different day than town meeting.
Candidates in Gosnold have traditionally announced their candidacy at an open house held at town hall on Sunday, the day before town meeting.
Under this system, it is impossible to tell who will seek office until the day of town meeting, although longtime Gosnold resident Duane Lynch is expected to challenge Mr. Davis for his seat on the board of selectmen and board of health.
Voters will also elect a town clerk, treasurer, tax collector, auditor, school committee member, public library trustee, highway surveyor, three constables and one municipal light board member. Most incumbents are expected to win reelection without contest.
The rest of the articles on the warrant are mostly considered housekeeping. Gosnold, which had about 120 registered voters last spring, is one of the smallest towns in the state.