There was a lot of chatter after Town Meeting and during the campaign for Moderator about how to increase TM participation.
Now the Town is preparing to take a serious look at the issue. And they need five volunteers to help do that.
A Town Meeting Review Committee is being formed this June. The group will research best practices of other towns and solicit resident feedback.
The TMRC is expected to report to selectmen in early December. If recommendations lead to Warrant Articles, the group will work with officials to craft them. Reports and any Warrant Articles would then be presented to Annual Town Meeting voters. Following the April meeting, the committee will be disbanded.
Newly elected Moderator Stephen Morreale proposed the ad hoc committee to selectmen on Tuesday night. He plans to appoint three members and have the Board of Selectmen appoint the other two. The vote is scheduled for June, with applications due the first of the month.
Morreale said he considered targeting an expected Special Town Meeting this fall. But he realized the deadline was too aggressive for the work involved.
To prepare for ATM, the Moderator proposed a February deadline. Chair John Rooney urged moving up the report deadline. He pointed out that the Warrant is closed in early to mid January.
Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf recommended that Town Administrator Mark Purple work with the committee. At her request, Morreale agreed to add an ex-officio member.
With a few revisions being made to the proposed charge, the vote approving a committee will wait until the same night appointments are made. In the meantime, Morreale is sharing the revised charge draft.
In an accompanying note, Morreale wrote:
I expect that the interested parties would have research and writing interests and capabilities and be able to interview. Gaining feedback from fellow Southborough citizens and voters is essential.
Here are some highlights from the charge:
The charge of the TMRC will include, but not be limited to, exploring Best Practices in other New England communities. The committee will explore voting procedures, warrant review, improved public education of Town Meeting voters using multiple modes of media and improving interest, efficiency and attendance. . .
The report should include recommendations to enhance and improve the delivery information to voters, reports and briefings by Boards, Committees and interested parties for warrant articles, identify best practices in other localities, including day and time of meeting and voting procedures (considering electronic voting methods) during Town Meeting.
Feedback and input from citizens will be vital to collect.
Click here to open the pdf with the full charge.
To volunteer, email Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rooney at email@example.com, with a brief letter of interest, including your background and previous service to the Town, if applicable.
Morreale’s communication didn’t include a deadline. But Tuesday night, Assistant Town Manager Vanessa Hale recommended letters be submitted by June 1st.