Selectmen adopt policy for filling committee vacancies (2 dozen public spots left to fill)

by beth on October 19, 2017

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Above: The Town’s website highlights openings on five Town Committees most of which were filled this week. But there are close to 20 other committees with vacancies that still need volunteers. (image from Town website)

Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen made several more appointments to committees. That still leaves many openings for appointed positions. (Scroll down for the list.)

Communication issues over some of the recent appointments prompted the Town administration team to recommend a process. It was a policy that selectmen adopted as official.

The policy applies to candidates for committees that are appointed by selectmen. Some highlights:

  • All candidates must submit a volunteer form to the Board of Selectmen (not the committee)
  • New vacancies will be publicized through Town’s website and twitter, cable and any appropriate local media by two weeks prior to application close date
  • New volunteers will be publicly interviewed by selectmen with some allowed exceptions: previous members of committees, candidates interviewed within the past year, or when selectmen vote to waive interviews (for instance based on recommendations by the committee)
  • Though it provides clear guidelines, selectmen have the ability to waive rules if they interfere with best interest of the Town.

To read the full policy, click here.

An impetus for the new policies was related to last month’s interview of Michael Robbins for an alternate membership on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

This week, Selectman Brian Shea told fellow members that it was very uncomfortable not appointing a candidate they liked. Selectmen had chosen to instead delay and better advertise the opening. That was based on complaints they heard from people that were unaware of the vacancy.

Putting the word out wider failed to net any new candidates. On Tuesday night, selectmen appointed Robbins. 

Town Administrator Mark Purple said that coordinating recruiting for all of the openings on Town Committees has had them “chasing their tail”.  

Purple updated that a lot of administrative time had been spent that could have been put to other uses. He said the board’s Executive Assistant Lori Esposito suggested adopting a policy like one she had put together in a past job.

Looking at the draft, Chair Dan Kolenda questioned if all of the steps were always necessary. Purple pointed out that some of those requirements are allowed to be waived by selectmen by a vote. Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf supported the measure, stating that the policy could be amended if they run into issues.

Previously, I had posted that about 50 vacancies would remain after this week’s appointments. In looking closer, I see that some of the vacancies are for inactive committees. Some other vacancies are for spots that need to be filled by members on other Town committees or specific roles.

The following are 23 seats I identified as still needing volunteers and open to all residents/voters.* Except where noted, the Board of Selectmen is the appointing authority:

  • Multiple seats:
    • Cable Television Committee (4 seats)
    • Historical Commission (2 seats)
    • Southborough Scholarship Advisory Committee (2 seats)
    • Southborough Town Meeting Review Committee (2 seats)
    • Southborough Housing Opportunity Partnership Committee (SHOPC) (2 seats)
  • One seat each:
    • Advisory Committee (by Moderator appointment)
    • Affordable Housing Trust Fund Committee
    • Americans with Disabilities Act Committee
    • Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator
    • Deed Research Subcommittee
    • Economic Development Committee
    • Fundraising Subcommittee
    • Main Street Design Working Group
    • Metropolitan Area Planning Council
    • Open Space Preservation Commission
    • Public Safety Building Committee
    • Public Works Planning Board (by Moderator appointment)
    • Taxation Aid Committee

To apply to most of the above seats, click here. To look at more information on committee responsibilities, click here.

For the seats that are listed as by Moderator appointment (Advisory and PWPB), you should contact Moderator Paul Cimino. This summer, he shared on the blog:

I encourage anyone who is interested in serving on any of the Moderator-appointed bodies to contact me at any time via official Town email (moderator@southboroughma.com). In so doing, a public record will exist as to all who express interest.

*[Editor’s Note: I didn’t include the Municipal Technology Committee. The vacancies on that committee are based on administrative issues as the Town opens a new statutory committee and closes the ad hoc version. Selectmen advertised for candidates with a deadline of September 29th. But appointments are on hold for now while the School Committee, Library Trustees, and selectmen work out the process for interviewing and appointing members. The Superintendent’s office did send out an invitation for applications in September that didn’t include a deadline:

The Town of Southborough recently voted to create a new Municipal Technology Committee (MTC) that will help create a strategic plan for the town’s technology needs, including schools and other government entities. The Southborough School Committee is charged with appointing two members to the five-member standing committee and is looking for volunteers to serve.

If you are a technology professional, this is your chance to influence the future of technology in Southborough. To apply, please submit a resume and letter of interest via email to the Superintendent of Schools c/o clepore@nsboro.k12.ma.us. For more information, see the full warrant article establishing the MTC. For additional information follow the links: MTC Information and MTC FAQ.pdf or contact our office at 508-486-5115. ]

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arborist October 19, 2017 at 4:37 PM

it’s too bad that folks can’t serve the town anymore, But it’s a sign of the times, People just don’t have much time because they are too busy working to pay their bills and Taxes

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2 beth October 19, 2017 at 5:18 PM

I wouldn’t say that folks can’t serve the town anymore. The town has around 55 committees that are active. Most seem to have a quorum. That means there are a whole lot of people actively supporting town government. I can’t do a simple calculation of how many because some of them are people serving multiple boards and each committee has a very number of members. But it is a lot of active volunteers.

I don’t have enough history to compare past a few years ago. I just started covering town politics in 2013. But compared to then, we definitely have more active committees with major responsibilities now. And a few years ago, the historical commission went for a significant period of time without a quorum.

So I think the town is in pretty good shape, considering.

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