2014-11-21 / Community

Dis-appointment in South Portland

By Duke Harrington
Contributing writer

SOUTH PORTLAND The impact of the Nov. 4 general election in South Portland is already being felt at city hall. However, it’s not the decision to legalize marijuana but the one to deny a city charter change that has councilors smarting.

At the Nov. 17 city council meeting, Councilor Patti Smith said she was unable to make an appointment to the Board of Assessment Review, “because I can’t find anyone in my district to fill the position.”

According to city records, Smith has been searching for someone to serve in that seat since April 2013. She also has a civil service commission nomination that’s been available since June.

Earlier this year, the council amended rules regarding appointment to boards and committees. With a dearth of willing applicants, the council decided to open the pool citywide, provided only that no committee has more than three people from any one district. Previously, only the two at-large councilors had unrestricted access to appointees. All other councilors could only nominate people living within their own district.

However, because the Board of Assessment Review and the Civil Service Commission are mentioned in the city charter, opening up the appointment process on those bodies required voter approval. Residents soundly defeated the proposal on Nov. 4, with 56 percent saying no.

Most councilors have expressed disappointment with the result.

“It’s really a shame,” said Councilor Maxine Beecher, at city hall on election night. “It was something that was really very much needed, but the citizens have spoken, although I’m not sure they all really understood what was at stake. We’ll just have to carry on, trying our best to fill what vacancies we can.”

On Monday, the council appointed Timothy Hubbard, a real estate appraiser with RL Valuation, to the Board of Assessment Review, filling the at-large seat that falls under Beecher’s auspices.

One additional civil service seat is currently open, awaiting a nominee living in District 5.

Also on Monday the council appointed retired IT professional Charles McNutt and David Critchfield, late of the draft ordinance committee, to the city’s conservation commission. That group has openings for one full and five associate members.

South Portland also has one current opening, each, on the Energy and Recycling Committee and the Arts and Historic Preservation Committee.

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