New ordinance to protect MTC committee

By Grace Moore

During Town Attorney Jim Peck’s report at Monday night’s meeting of the governing body, he advised the council to create an ordinance recognizing responsibilities and terms to clarify and protect the new MTC committee before voting on its members. He noted that, under state statute, a rec board is recognized with members and duties; however, a committee to run a specific facility is not covered by statute, creating a potential problem.

“You want to make sure they fall under your insurance…It really helps if you have some kind of statute saying that they are a committee of our town and volunteers of our town. If an issue arises…you want to make sure the Local Government Liability Pool will step in,” Peck said.

“Since there is no statute that actually says it and the somewhat large responsibility the MTC committee would have…in an abundance of caution, I thought we should have an ordinance to be sure that no question arises…You should have some formality of some sort.”

Mayor Steve Sproul argued that there is a state law, “I believe there is a statute, you can form an MTC board where they would be responsible for all of that and be insured.” To which Peck assured Sproul that there is no such statute. The mayor continued to disagree and did not vote to move forward with the ordinance.

The mayor’s wife, Sonja, then asked Peck if a rec board could be formed, “according to state statute, not just appointment and then within that rec board have two parts, part A does this [and] Part B does that, it would all be under the umbrella of the recreation board.”

Peck explained to her that the problem with that idea is that, while overseeing the gymnasium and other recreational activities are under the rec board’s purview, renting to businesses is not.

“By definition, recreation is operating recreational facilities, like playgrounds and parks…The MTC is used for many different things, not just public recreation,” he said.

Sonja went on to criticize the council for not adhering to state statute regarding the establishment of the current rec board and telling them that they should remodel and make that board responsible for the MTC Committee. The council responded that the existing board is according to state statute to which she disagreed, saying, “The statutes have not been followed for the rec board.” She said that Peck had told her that and the reasons why.

As she continued arguing, the attorney asked to which statutes she was referring and, when she was unable to tell him, silently waited to complete his report to the council as they suggested to the mayor that the discussion be brought back to the point “for the sake of time”, which was approximately 9: 45 p.m.

The attorney was advised of the duties, terms and number of members among other details to begin creating the ordinance. Potential members will be voted on by the council through formal application.

The governing body will conduct a special meeting for first reading of the ordinance immediately after the first budget meeting on Wednesday, March 28 at 11 a.m.