Virus update: Town on meetings, running for office, and other government business

The Town of Southborough issued another update on the situation with Covid-19. This one answers questions about the Town’s handling of open meetings, interaction with the Clerk’s office around running for office and more.

Running for Office

As I posted last week, the deadline for pulling papers to run in the upcoming election is this Friday, March 20th at 5:00 pm. Those who need to pull papers are asked to call the Town Clerk’s office at at (508) 485-0710 x 3005.

Papers with voter signatures need to be filed a week from today, March 24th at 5:00 pm. (The number of valid registered voter signatures is 50. Candidates are advised to get more in case any signatures are considered invalid.) According to the update, candidates can file papers by dropping them in the green box outside of the Town House. (That is also an encouraged means of submitting other documents to the Town.)

Town Open Meetings – more and fewer restrictions

The communication also re-iterated that the Town plans to limit non-essential public meetings:

The Board of Selectmen have restricted all public meetings to those that are essential to government operations. This is limited to Board of Selectmen and Board of Health, with few exceptions.

That doesn’t mean all upcoming meetings are cancelled. Not all boards are appointed by selectmen. It appears that some that meet outside of Town owned facilities are able to decide for themselves. 

The Southborough Housing Authority is still scheduled to hold its regular meeting at Colonial Gardens. And, this afternoon, the Superintendent’s office issued an agenda for a Regional School Committee meeting this coming Wednesday night at Algonquin. (Although a Coronavirus update is on the agenda, it otherwise looks like a typical one including the public hearing on the school’s budget.) It will be broadcast live by Northborough Cable Access.

As for Town committees’ meetings that are deemed essential, according to Town Administrator Mark Purple, officials will try to utilize technology to hold virtual conferences by phone or video.

It appears an example of that already occurred last night. The BOS held a conference call. It was held without any prior public notice. According to an agenda posted today, last night the board held an Emergency Meeting via phone to discuss “Action items to deal with impact of COVID-19”.

Facilities Access

This afternoon’s announcement also clarifies that they are asking for by appointment only access to all Town Facilities except for the Public Safety Building. That building will have lobby access only. (Both Police and Fire have communications windows in the lobby.) That said, they won’t necessarily be turning visitors away:

However, if you come in person without an appointment, we will endeavor to put you in contact with the right resource immediately.

Still, they encourage communication by staff via email or phone.

Here is the full announcement by the Town.

Updated (3/16/20 4:14 pm) The Superintendent confirmed that the Regional School Commitee meeting will be broadcast live.

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