NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 10, 2012

Town rejects final $40K for Blais

Despite funding denial, settlement will still proceed

(Continued)

But before they closed the book completely, voters signaled their distaste for how the lawsuit and settlement were handled by rejecting the second $40,000 in funding requested by town leaders to replenish some of the money spent from the reserve account.

But Finance Committee Chairman David Archibald said it didn’t make fiscal sense to pay $40,000 more if the suit could be settled for just $60,000.

But some voters supported the $40,000 settlement payment because they felt selectmen “acted in good faith” when negotiating on the town’s behalf.

“It’s the honorable thing to do,” Judy Mizner said. If the town wants people to negotiate in good faith in the future, it needs to honor its agreement to pay Blais the full $100,000, Mizner said.

Holly Colvin, however, contended good faith had nothing to do with it. She compared the settlement with Blais to the purchase of a new fire truck and concluded that voters would be foolish to pay more than they had to in either situation.

In response to Cynthia Bourquard’s question about why the insurance company was only covering a small portion, Cushing acknowledged he was “disappointed with MIIA.” He said the insurance company covered only some of what was an extensive array of charges in the suit. Cushing said his board was advised by legal counsel that the discovery process to litigate the case in court could have extended for 1 1/2 years or longer, with many town employees and residents called as witnesses.

But many voters still couldn’t get their heads around why Blais had agreed to go forward with her end of the bargain, whether or not the agreed-upon $100,000 amount was fully funded.

Under a second warrant article, town leaders sought to replenish the reserve transfer account with $30,000 from the free cash fund, but voters were not willing to build back the majority of what was withdrawn to pay Blais.

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