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Ethics committee on hold in Barrington

BARRINGTON—Decision on the ethics nominating committee was halted by the differing opinions of the Barrington town board at their Wednesday, Feb. 2 meeting.
The board passed a law to establish an ethics committee in the fall of 2008, but their law states the town must first establish an ethics nominating committee.  The nominating committee will choose people they suggest to serve on the ethics committee.  The ethics committee in turn will be there for elected or appointed town officials who needed ethical consultation on a decision or issue.
Board member Freeman Freeman explained that the process was set up with the nominating committee to choose the ethics committee, because the Association of Towns recommended it.
“The primary reason is to put a layer of citizens between the town board and the ethics board,” he said.
The Barrington board advertised for people to apply for a spot on the nominating committee and got three candidates, the minimum number needed for the nominating committee, before the Dec. 30, 2008, deadline.  The candidates were Carlton Reeves, David Larmouth and Judd Dean.  A fourth application from Connie McNamara arrived two weeks after the deadline, and all four candidates were interviewed at board meetings.
At the Feb. 2 meeting, the board ultimately could not agree on reopening and extending the application deadline.  Supervisor Eileen Farnan and board member Freeman Freeman voted yes, Nate Olney and Fred Wright voted no, and Ken Christensen abstained.
The board first discussed if they should choose people for the nominating committee when the board members started to disagree.  Wright said they had three applications before the deadline and should not consider McNamara since her application was late.
“It’s nothing against McNamara as a committee member,” he said.  “It’s a deadline concern.”
 Highway superintendent, Steve Wheeler, also added that they had three candidates which was enough.
Then the board started discussing accepting applications again.  Farnan said she wanted to extend the deadline because there was a fifth person who took an application and had not turned it in.  She explained that considering the small pool of people they have to draw on for the committee she wanted to get as many people involved as possible.  That includes the fifth person who picked up an application from Clerk Joy Perry.  Perry said she did not know the person though.
Freeman argued they have extended and reopened deadlines in the past and that by doing so would help draw on as many different people as needed.  Since the vote went nowhere, the ethics nominating committee will come up again at the next meeting.
In other business:
• The town board set seven hours as the average work day for town employees in the retirement fund who do not punch a clock.
• Wheeler reported that the town of Jerusalem approved the boom mower agreement with Barrington.
• Tony DeStephen, assessor, will be putting numbers together for the veterans property exemption.  Farnan said they did not have to do anything until November.
• Wheeler will get prices and quotes for the work to finish the salt barn building.
• Farnan reported that the animal control agreement with the county they were supposed to sign is invalid.  The board received a letter from the county legislature stating all such contracts sent to municipalities were invalid and that new ones would be sent out at a later date.

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