Saturday, September 26, 2020

Letters

Start from Scratch

It is unfortunate that the Government Study Committee was not able to complete the charge giving by the Board of Selectmen. There are three basic questions.

First, shall the town’s legislative body continue to be a Town Meeting with 13,000-plus electors and voters as members, or should the town move to an elected representative form of legislature? The Board of Selectmen have referred question to the Town Meeting 44 times since 2010. There have been two2 meetings that had a quorum of 75 of 13,000-plus members.

Second, shall the town executive function remain as an executive committee of five politically elected leaders, chaired by a first selectman who is delegated to carry out the votes of the Board of Selectmen (BOS), or should the town engage (via a three-year contract) a professionally educated (M.S. in public administration) and trained town manager to oversee the administration of town employees as directed by elected officials?

Finally, shall the budget responsibility reside with a separably elected body (Board of Finance) or in a subcommittee of the elected legislative body?

Perhaps the BOS could start from scratch and appoint a charter review committee that would address these issues and recommend two alternatives to be placed on the ballot—a revision of the 2006 charter that would address the issues of governance in the 2020s and beyond and a form of representative government with a professional manager. Let the voters decide, The incremental cost of a town manager is some $75,000. That will not have an adverse effect on the $28,081,832 town budget.

Gus Horvath
Madison