Learn about proposed changes to Southborough’s town government – TONIGHT

by susan on February 12, 2013

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Legislation to move to a town manager style of government failed narrowly at Town Meeting last year, but proponents of the idea have continued their effort to bring some of the changes proposed in the legislation to bear. Tonight the Board of Selectmen will hear a presentation on three related articles that will come before voters at Town Meeting this year.

Relying on the research and recommendations that went into developing the town manager legislation from last year, the three new articles are an attempt to streamline Southborough’s form of government. Two of the articles are aimed at strengthening the role of the town administrator, while a third expands the size of the Board of Selectmen from three to five members.

You can read all three articles, and find additional resources, on the town website.

Tonight’s presentation to the Board of Selectmen is open to the public, and residents are encourage to attend in person at the Town House Hearing Room (on the second floor of the building), or to watch a live broadcast on public access television (Verizon channel 37 or Charter channel 12). The meeting starts at 6:30 pm, with the town government discussion scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm.

1 Al Hamilton February 12, 2013 at 1:10 PM

At its Jan. 10 meeting The Town Manager Legislation Ad Hoc Committee voted unanimously to propose 1 by law and 2 pieces of special legislation to the Annual Town Meeting. This is a continuation of the effort to empower an executive to provide day to day management of our municipal government. The 3 pieces of legislation are:

1. A By Law Establishing a Strong Town Administrator. This By Law works in conjunction with actions already taken by the Board of Selectmen to empower the Town Administrator to supervise departments under the Board of Selectmen. In addition the By Law makes the Town Administrator the Personnel Director for the Town and makes him or her responsible for seeing that Town Personnel Policies are uniformly applied across all town departments and makes the Town Administrator responsible for most purchasing and MIS systems.

2. Special Legislation, which requires the approval of the State Legislature and a majority vote at ballot to expand the number of Selectmen from 3 to 5. The committee felt that it offered greater diversity of opinions, better communications, better policy continuity, and the ability to spread the workload that the Selectmen carry.

3. Special Legislation which requires the same approval process to permit the Town Administrator to sign “warrants”. A warrant is the final authorization to pay the Town’s bills and payrolls. Currently a majority of the Board of Selectmen must sign the warrants, which requires Selectmen to come to town hall every Tuesday to sign.

The Committee prepared the Strong Town Administrator by law language to address prominent discussion points voiced during deliberations of the Town Manager legislation that was proposed one year ago. The Strong Town Administrator by law ensures:

1. No changes are proposed for the structure of government. All of the independent elected boards, committees and officials maintain their roles, responsibilities and authorities. The independent boards are now required to coordinate any major personnel actions they take with the Town Administrator to assure compliance with Town Personnel Policies.

2. There is no impact on the Schools

3. Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen remain the final say for the powers of the Town Administrator.

This is the first step in a process that may or may not end up with a Town Manager form of government but it allows Southborough to take a meaningful step in the direction of full time professional management of municipal government and preserves flexibility for us to make changes as we perfect the system without having to regularly appeal to the State Legislature.

To see the full text you can visit the town website http://www.southboroughtown.com/TownManagerComm/TownCharter.htm

In addition to the Selectmens meeting tonight, there will be a review at the next committee meeting on Feb 21 in the Senior Center. The members of public boards and committees and the public are encouraged to come and ask questions.

Al Hamilton
Chair

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