At their meeting of May 25, 2021, the Select Board voted unanimously to establish a Governance Study Committee based on the idea of a comprehensive study of the Town government being needed a decade after the last effort. The Town has experienced demographic changes, continued efforts to boost economic development to diversity the tax base, and enhanced through by-law changes governance structures to assure best practices managing the Town's finances and infrastructure.
A number of the initiatives that were included in the charter proposal which was defeated at the 2010 Annual Town Election have been addressed as separate items in the past decade:
- The name of the governing board was changed from Board of Selectmen to Select Board.
- The number of members of the School Committee was increased from six to seven.
- The Town established a Master Plan Committee that produced a master plan of conservation and development for the Town (we will consider forming and appointing members of an implementation committee on this agenda).
- The Standing Building Committee, the Priorities Committee, and Capital Outlay Committee were formalized and policies and procedures put in place to provide effective long-range financial and infrastructure planning.
COMMITTEE CHARGE (draft)
The charge to and duties of the Governance Study Committee is to study and make recommendations that assure thorough deliberation and voter participation in the decisions regarding governance structures in the following specific areas:
Consider whether to increase the number of members of the Select Board from three (3) to five (5) members and recommend a process for evaluating, debating, and deciding the issue.
Consider whether the Town should change the form of the legislative body from open town meeting to representative town meeting or some other form and to recommend whether Section 494 of the Town By-Laws, which sets the dates of the Annual Town Meeting and the Annual Town Election, should be changed.
Consider whether to recommend a process for evaluating and consolidating town by-laws, especially as it relates to whether to appoint rather than elect the Town Clerk, Board of Assessors, Board of Library Trustees or Planning Board, the specific duties of the Finance Committee in relation to warrant articles and fiscal oversight, and updating the personnel by-law to reflect legislative changes and best practices, into a charter document.
The committee shall be comprised of not less than seven (7) nor more than eleven (11) voting members appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Select Board for terms ending not later than May 31, 2022.
COMMITTEE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AND DURATION
The committee shall make interim reports to the Select Board of its activities by September 28, 2021; December 1, 2021; and February 2, 2022; so recommendations may be inserted into May 2, 2022, Annual Town Meeting Warrant by the end of February 2022.
Those interested in serving on this newly established advisory committee should complete and submit a Board/Committee/Commission application.