Yarmouth voters will decide two referendum questions brought forward by citizen petitions on Nov. 6.

One is a proposed amendment to the town charter that would prohibit town and school employees from serving on the Town Council.

The second is an ordinance that would establish a Rental Housing Advisory Committee and require landlords to give tenants 75 days’ notice for rent increases.

The charter amendment effort follows the election in June of Town Councilor Meghan Casey, a Latin teacher at Yarmouth High School.

Backers of the referendum, including former Councilor Jim MacLeod, said it is aimed at preventing conflicts of interest that could arise with town employees overseeing town government.

“(We) support reasonable policies that represent the community as a whole and which promote honesty, transparency, integrity and accountability,” MacLeod said during a recent hearing. “… In our view, separating employer and employee roles and responsibilities (does this) … and reasonably removes foreseeable threats to a potentially impartial or biased decision-making process.”

Casey said she could understand why, “at first blush,” people would think the amendment makes sense.

“But what it is asking is that we ban an entire class of people from serving on Town Council because some people think, incorrectly, that the Town Council supervises school employees,” Casey said, noting that “hiring, supervising, or establishing compensation for school employees” are all under the purview of the School Committee and not the council.

The proposal to create a Rental Housing Advisory Committee and require notice of rent increases is the result of petitions submitted by Councilor April Humphrey and members of the Yarmouth Tenants’ Association. Advocates say it would provide needed protections for renters. Most other members of the council oppose it, however, saying it unfairly singles out one large property owner, Taymil Properties LLC.

Jocelyn Van Saun can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 183, or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: JocelynVanSaun


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