The West Tisbury selectmen adopted a new policy about use of town stationery this week after one selectman tried to use the stationery without the consent of his colleagues.
In early October selectman and board chairman Richard Knabel sent a letter to the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative and Cape Light Compact about the town’s upcoming solar panel installation. Mr. Knabel, a longtime critic of the electric cooperative, expressed concern that the town might bear future financial responsibility for the panels, among other things.
Mr. Knabel signed the letter as a member of the board of selectmen. The letter was not printed on town letterhead following a discussion between Mr. Knabel and town administrator Jennifer Rand.
“[Mr. Knabel] was told by Jen that it really needs to be run by the board first,” selectman Cynthia Mitchell said Wednesday. “And thus the need for a formal policy reared its head.”
On Wednesday Mr. Kanbel acknowledged the misstep. “This matter arises partially out of my own ignorance. I didn’t know there was a history or tradition to this,” he said. “That said, the letterhead should only be used with the board’s concurrence, meaning a majority of the board. I have no problem with making a policy so it’s a clear and reasonable policy.”
Mrs. Mitchell made a motion to adopt a policy based on language used by the town of Edgartown for their letterhead policy. The proposed policy stipulates that letterhead is not to be used for personal correspondence, only for official use. It must be authorized by the majority vote of the board, and any selectman using his or her title should include a disclaimer that says the letter does not represent the position of the board and is the sole view of the undersigned.
Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd seconded the motion.
But Mr. Knabel said he needed more information and asked to see the policies from the other towns. Mr. Knabel called the motion premature.
“I’ll allow the motion and second but I would like to see and hear what the other towns’ policies are; I’ll take the motion under advisement until we find out,” the chairman said. “There’s a reasonable discussion to be had here . . . I’m asking to postpone for a week until we find out.”
Mrs. Mitchell said there was no need for delay.
“I feel we should act on it; it’s very much in keeping with the town’s longtime practice and certainly in keeping with the Massachusetts selectmen’s handbook,” she said. “I see no reason not to act on it. And evidently we need a policy.”
The board voted 2-0 to approve the policy. Mr. Knabel abstained.
In other business, the selectmen discussed a request from medical marijuana dispensary applicant Susan Stanford for a letter of support or non-opposition from the town. The letter is not required but suggested to come from the town administrator, selectmen and board of health. Voters are set to take up the issue of zoning the dispensaries at a special town meeting on Nov. 5. The selectmen decided to take no action on the letter.
The selectmen were also notified that Standard and Poor’s has upgraded the town bond rating from double A to double A plus. Ms. Rand said the town was up for a triple A minus rating, but the bond rating agency had never given that rating to a town the size of West Tisbury.
“It would have been remarkable,” Ms. Rand said. “This is due in no small part to the staff we have working here. A huge pat on the back to them.”
Mr. Manter offered a “huge thanks” to town accountant Bruce Stone and town treasurer Kathy Logue. Ms. Mitchell echoed the sentiment.
“We’re operating this small town in a way that really only larger towns have been lucky enough to have the talent to do,” she said.
This story has been corrected from an earlier version that reported Mr. Knabel used town stationery for his letter.