This week, the Board of Selectmen delved into long and short term goal planning.
Selectmen look forward to taking advantage of the “66% increase” in their workforce this May. (The May 12th election will result in adding two more selectmen to the 3 person board.)
Selectman John Rooney said he hopes they will be able to achieve a lot more for the town with the bigger board. His biggest mandate was increasing “customer service” to the community.
In service to that, Rooney added 6.5 more priorities to the list of 9 priorities they drafted in January.
With help from the Town Administrator, the board talked through items, weighed priorities and assigned supervisory roles. The board has scheduled a vote on the list for February 25th.
Here are the priorities they listed, though many are long term. (Click here to read a draft with all 15.5 goals. Selectman Rooney’s comments are in red.):
1. Construction of new public safety facility (includes reviewing findings of past studies)
2. Review of Town Facilities (includes potential reuse of Neary School and other facilities)
2-A. Review of Town Assets
3. Collective Bargaining (includes participating in teacher negotiations)
4. Increase PILOT payments
5. Economic Development (includes development handbook)
6. Review Budget guidelines
7. Communication with community
8. OPEB (includes determining a funding level the Town can maintain)
9. Town aesthetics/beautification (includes preparing a list for future Scout projects)
10. Internal/external communication (assign selectmen to liaison with other boards; increase outreach to representatives and other towns)
11. Consider consolidating departments (internally and/or through regionalization of services)
12. Increase Town Meeting participation (including further exploration of online voting)
13. Improve Open Meeting Law compliance (more training, broadcast more meetings, improve posting of minutes)
14. Explore becoming a Green Community (learn what that would entail)
15. Work closer with Advisory (prepare a 3 yr budget, revenue projection, and outlook on future override)
Purple said that a lot of the items listed were projects already in process. Some items may be quick to check off, but others (like a new public safety building) will take several years to achieve.
It was a 90 minute talk that covered a lot of ground. I did my best to catch the highlights below. But feel free to watch the discusion for yourself. (Click here.)
Selectmen are seeking ways to improve communication with the community. They are considering trying office hours again once the board expands. (But Selectman Bill Boland pointed out that anyone who wants to provide feedback or make a request can email them at email@example.com.)
Rooney asked to explore all possibilities for cutting town costs, even “taboo” ideas like a regional (out of town) library building or Senior Center. Chair Dan Kolenda believed that residents would object to driving to Ashland for a Senior Center. He also said that there would be a lot of push back for not having a library in town for children to go to.
Town Administrator, Mark Purple agreed that regionalizing services makes sense for some things, but you need “a partner willing to dance with you.” He believes in combining towns purchasing power as they did with the CodeRed system. But there are some areas where he said regionalization doesn’t make sense for a town.
Rooney stated that service level budgets of the last few years have lead to deteriorating service in town departments. All agreed that consolidating departments and/or cross training might increase internal resources where needed. They plan to evaluate departments needs and staffing.
Selectmen also acknowledged that they need to be careful in pursuit of additional PILOT funds from many of the town non-profits. Over pressuring could result in a non-profit withdrawing its offer to make the optional payments.
The board will revisit the list after the May election and reassign supervisory roles.
Updated (2/14/14 12:20): I updated the link to the goal list. It was originally to the 9 goal list in the BOS packet. Today, Selectman Rooney emailed me his version of the 15.5 goal list.