Council to Consider Changes in Ordinance Regarding Appointments

The Town Council will consider amending the Town’s ordinance related to appointments to boards and commissions.

The amendment would require the Town to publish in one local newspaper and two other public places an announcement that a seat will be opening up at least three months before terms expire, regardless of whether or not a member would like to be reappointed.

“It would be nice to get different perspectives. These other boards sometimes go for many years without new members,” Councilor Joe Green said.

Another change suggested is making it the duty of each board and commission to notify the executive assistant to the town manager at least three months in advance of openings. The Council additionally considered whether or not to interview all candidates, even reappointments.

“It was been the custom of the Council to interview members of the main boards for any appointment, but reappointments have been less clear, but certainly that’s open for discussion,” Chairman Tom Dolan said.

“That was common practice in the past, but we stopped doing it for some reason,” Green said.

“The current ordinance is silent on reappointments,” Town Manager Kevin Smith said.

“My recommendation would be to do interviews at the Council’s discretion,” Dolan said.

Smith said he will write a first draft of the new ordinance based on their discussion to present at the Council’s next meeting on Jan. 19.

In other business Monday night:

• The Council continued to its next meeting several agenda items, including a budget workshop, an Outdoor Recreation Plan update, a public hearing on the purchase of a conservation easement on the property at 18 Kimball Pond Road for $395,000, and an appointment to the Conservation Commission.

The meeting was cut short because John Farrell and Jim Butler were not present and the Council wanted a full board to address the presentations and board reappointments.

• The Council approved an expenditure from the Maintenance Trust Fund in the amount of $3,568 for winter maintenance at the Leach Library, Cable Access Center and Senior Center, as well as defibrillator monitor hook-ups at Central, South and North Fire Stations, and Fuel Farm repairs at Town Hall.

• Town Treasurer Kathy Wagner reported during public comment that the Town has 13 outstanding bonds remaining, with the last bond to fall off in 2027. The total amount bonded is $16 million and the Town’s borrowing threshold is $87 million.

“I’m up here because people always want to know about our bonds and how in debt we are. We get a lot of questions on that,” she said. “People in town can see how well as a community we have conducted our business. I would say we’re conducting ourselves pretty fiscally prudent in the sense of how we bonded.”

In 2016, the Town will see a substantial decrease in its bond payment, down about $1.7 million with the fall of a bond for the Police Station, according to Wagner.

“There’s misinformation out there that we’re in debt,” she said. “We have conducted ourselves appropriately. People say we build all the Taj Mahals. We might have nice product, but we’ve done it well, and not burdening the taxpayer to the point that it’s not responsible. I hear us argue about taxes being too high. They may have been high, but we have been responsible. We haven’t spent like we could have.”

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