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Saugus Town Meeting members delay action on articles

SAUGUS – It was another slow night for Saugus Town Meeting Monday evening, as it voted to table seven of eight articles that came up for debate.

Town Meeting voted to table several financial articles dealing with various revolving accounts in town. Articles 7 (Youth and Recreation), 8 (water system cross-connect), 9 (Senior Center) and 10 (senior lunch program) were all tabled so Town Meeting members could have time to review the accounts.

“This evening I have 58 pages of information, and you want to me to vote on all of them,” said Town Meeting member Sean Maltais. “This has nothing to with the men and women that run these. Next week is a holiday. You have two weeks to ask questions. We’re all in the same boat. We all want more time.”

Town Meeting member Al DiNardo said the accounts would normally have been voted on without questions, but noted he wants to give residents more accountability.

“Saugus has been through a lot,” said DiNardo. “What some of us are asking for is to bring the light of day into all accounts. I think we owe the public great accountability more now than ever. I’m every apprehensive. I have mixed feelings on this.”

The main issue raised was several charges in the Youth and Recreation account with line items such as fuel and donations.

“I’m not questioning that it’s in use for Youth and Recreation services,” said Town Meeting member Peter Manoogian. “I would like to know why we’re buying gasoline at a gas station for Youth and Recreation, and using the town yard for the Senior Center.”

Town Manager Scott Crabtree called the accounts “necessary,” but acknowledged a “lack of oversight” in the past.

“These are a mechanism to allow some of these accounts and programs to be self-sustaining,” said Crabtree. “Some of the individuals that are administering the accounts need to be brought up to speed. I think there’s been a lack of training and a lack of oversight from the manager’s office.”

Town Meeting also voted to table Article 46, which would amend the town’s zoning bylaw to allow a wind turbine off of Route 107, after Manoogian presented some changes to the article.

Articles 12 (street resurfacing) and 13 (sidewalks) were also tabled due to a delay in Chapter 90 funds while article 44, which amends the town’s zoning bylaws for flood plain areas, was passed.