[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to email@example.com.]
To the Editor:
As not enough citizens of Southborough likely know, sandwiched in between our state primary and the special election to fill the seat vacated by John Kerry is our local town election on Monday May 13th. Raise your hand if you remembered. Come on now, tell the truth….
Although there are not many contested seats on our local ballot, there are two very important ballot items that will impact the way we govern ourselves in the future, Question 1 obviously being more significant:
Shall an act be submitted to the General Court in the year 2013, entitled ‘An Act Establishing a Five-Member Board of Selectmen for the Town of Southborough’ be accepted?
Shall the Town of Southborough cause an act to be submitted to the General Court in the year 2013, entitled ‘An Act Establishing the Authority of the Town Administrator to Sign Town Warrants for the Town of Southborough’ be accepted?
Both of these of these pieces of “special legislation” were overwhelming approved at the April 8th Town Meeting. but that is not enough to make them happen. They require a 3-step approval process, and approval by Town Meeting is only the first step. The second step is for approval by the voters at the ballot box, which is the reason for my writing this. The final step, which is out of our hands, is that they must be approved by the Legislature and Governor, but, hopefully, if approved by the town voters, that should be no problem.
I urge you to support Town Meeting and vote yes on both of these questions.
Question 1 expands the number of selectmen from 3 to 5. This was extensively debated on the floor of town meeting and overwhelmingly approved by a 4:1 margin. This has been a consistent recommendation of every town governance proposal in town for the last 6 years. Almost all, if not all, of the other nearby towns have 5 person boards of selectmen. Not one town has changed back to 3. This will improve policy stability, diversity, and improve communications. But, having been a Southborough Selectman, if I had to give you just one simple reason to vote yes for this change, it would be to tell you that the job is just too darn big for three people. We have been doing the town and its citizens a disservice for some years now by trying to perform the work with a three person Board, and thankfully, we now can change that.
Question 2 is another step in the process of unburdening the Board of Selectmen from the minutia of town operations. It permits the Town Administrator to sign warrants for the payment of town bills and payrolls. Currently a majority of the Board of Selectmen must sign the payment warrants each week, which has become for the most part just a rubber stamp function that has no practical merit. There are more than adequate financial controls in place without this cumbersome piece of bureaucracy.
With the almost unanimous approval of a new Town Administrator By Law at Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen’s revised Town Administrator’s job description, Southborough has taken the first steps towards making the Town Administrator responsible for the day to day operation of much of Town Government. This will enable the Board of Selectmen to really take on more of a much needed oversight and strategic planning role that will enable them to begin dealing with many of the longer term issues that face our community including unfunded pension liabilities, long term facilities and capital maintenance issues, development, personnel, and tax policies as well as a host of other issues. Dealing with these important issues is a lot of work. Let’s support our town’s future by providing a structure that enables us to have enough leaders to perform the work.
And as I said above, folks, our job is not done yet. These two pieces of special legislation need to be broadly supported at the ballot. Please get out to vote, and I urge you to vote yes to both of them on Monday, May 13th