Town of Rutland

The Town of Rutland Plan Commission on June 1 discussed conditional use permits and larger sites for a public hearing for a quarry expansion proposed by Kevin Hahn. Town supervisor Deana Zentner contends the discussion, without a proper notice, was inappropriate and violated the state’s open meetings law.

An effort to add a fifth supervisor to the Rutland Town Board failed to gain enough support to go to a vote this month.

Despite Sup. Deana Zentner’s effort gathering 25 petitions, neither she nor any other supervisor made a motion during the board’s Tuesday, July 7, meeting. The other three supervisors made their opposition clear, mostly for financial reasons.

“I don’t see why we would waste money on a fifth person,” Sup. Dave Grueneberg said. “I don’t see what it’s going to gain us. Times are tough right now.”

Adding a fifth supervisor would require a change in ordinance and therefore a public hearing. It would take effect after the election next spring, Town Chair Peter Loughrin told the board, citing his discussion with the town’s attorney.

Zentner argued that a fifth person would not only help prevent tie votes, it would also help the board avoid violations of the state’s Open Meetings laws. With a four-person board, any discussion between supervisors outside a board meeting on town business, including emails, becomes an illegal quorum, she pointed out.

Town resident Bob Postel echoed that sentiment.

“It would free up a lot of conversations and get various feedback from board members how they feel about certain issues,” he said.

Loughrin said it’s not a hindrance to not have the ability to discuss town issues with one supervisor at a time before a meeting.

“Every month, I have asked for ideas for agenda items and I get zero,” he said. “We haven’t hit roadblocks, problems and impasses. We don’t talk outside the meeting.”

Zentner disagreed.

“That is blatantly not true, Peter,” she said.

Sup. Nancy Nedveck agreed with Grueneberg on the cost, which Loughrin said would cost a minimum of $1,500.

“At this point, with uncertainty about income, for me, it’s strictly financial reasons, because it will add an extra burden to the township to pay that extra supervisor,” she said.