BOS - October 30, 2007 Workshop

BOS - October 30, 2007 Workshop

Postby Suzanne Kane » Thu Nov 01, 2007 7:37 am

Douglas Board of Selectmen
Workshop Minutes
October 30, 2007
Approved August 19, 2008


Warrant / Government Study Workshop:

Call to Order Chairman Mike Hughes called the workshop to order at 6:35 pm in the Resouce Room at the Municipal Center.
In attendance:, Paula Brouillette, Mitch Cohen, Scott Medeiros, Executive Administrator Michael Guzinski, Administrative Assistant Suzanne Kane, Town Engineer Bill Cundiff, Economic Development/Permit Coordinator Cathryn Welch, Tribune Reporter Tom Mattson
Vice Chair John Bombara arrived at 6:45pm and left at 7:20pm.

Warrant (Handout/Back up): Mike Guzinski Reviewed the13 Articles submitted for the Special Town Meeting Warrant, Tuesday, November 27, 2007 in the Auditorium of the Douglas High School, 33 Davis Street, at 7:00pm and legal counsel’s review. Have $65,000 remaining under Prop 2 ½ Cap that can be raised and appropriated at Fall Town Meeting to fund articles in this warrant, and not use Free Cash.
Discussion followed:
-Article 1 Prior Year Bills $444.55-From Economic Development that did not make it into the Accountant’s office in time.
-Article 2 Police Wages Sum $43,310- Allocated just over $18,000 (from Selectmen’s Budget) and anticipated needed approximately another $20,000. Contract was not finalized until after the May Annual Town Meeting and over the summer.
-Article 3 Water&Sewer Department Truck $36,000- Capital Committee supported the transfer, they will be developing a long term vehicle plan for the Board, currently have two other vehicles that are fairly old and not sufficient or reliable, probably will need to be replaced within the next several years. These funds will come from their retained earnings. Additional $1,000 for related equipment. Paula Brouillette Capital Committee will be requesting an overall Vehicle Policy established. A standard way to evaluate vehicles, how to manage new pieces of equipment, how they’re being included in the operational plans, and getting rid of older vehicles taking up operational funds to maintain.
Mike Guzinski Will check if the vehicles could be used for snow plowing as requested.
-Article 4 Inter-Municipal Agreement & Article 5 Senior Van $4,000- Serving the Town of Sutton as well as Douglas through a grant. Received the van late and didn’t have funding to operate it. Article 4 would authorize the Board to negotiate a contract with Sutton for the van to be shared between the two towns. Sutton would be the lead community; they would operate and house it there. Leads to Article 5, we fill is sufficient to fund our half of the operation to get through until June. Trial period of usage and re-evaluate in the spring.
-Article 6 Unemployment $20,000 & Article 7 Reserve Fund $15,000- As part of the changes made in the School Department & re-organizing staffing. School department needed to lay off a number of employees-gone beyond our current budget. Current outstanding bill of $4,000 for unemployment, expenses will drop if those individuals get other employment but an unknown factor, if not, would have to go back to the Reserve Fund. Will find out the maximum liability for the remainder of the fiscal year, and if the maximum is hit that, how we are going to fund it.
-Article 8 Intermediate School Building Needs Assessment, Design Services & Repair
Bill Cundiff School Committee came to the Building Needs Committee, requested authorization and support for putting forth this transfer of money to do an investigation. The Committee was invited and toured the school, a lot of structural and aesthetic issues.
-Article 9 Personnel By-Law Amendment- Clarify language regarding holiday pay.
-Article 10 Chestnut Street Land Swap- Request from Conservation Commission, it gives the Board the authority to do the swap not require them to do the swap. Bill Cundiff came forward referenced figure 1 map. The plan is, as proposed by the owner
who approached Conservation, a land swap Parcel A for Parcel B both pretty much un-buildable as lots, and to gain access to that future 38 acres. Suggest changing the wording from Conservation purposes to Municipal. These parcels have not been processed by the Assessors yet. There is an access from South Street, but no way to cross over Tinkerbell Brook-a perennial stream. Commission will be meeting next Monday and reviewing the report from the consultant. If not comfortable will pass over the article.
-Article 11 Amend Zoning By-Law “Water Resource Protection Overlay District” Bill Cundiff came forward. Put together by the Planning Board, a digitizing of old Plate 5 map. The paper map is old, hard to read, no parcel mapping on it, a challenge to see where the lines fall within the Town’s boundary. Will add Glenn Street well, as that was added after that paper map was created.
-Article 12 Amend Zoning By-Law as per Ch 43D’s “Expedited Permitting Program” & Article 13 Amend General By-Laws as per Ch 43D’s “Expedited Permitting Program” Both are in relation to Ch 43D properties. Town Counsel recommended two minor changes for clarification on Article 12, otherwise the same. Planning Board held a public hearing and will review at their meeting on November 13th before Town Meeting. Obtain something in writing from Special Counsel for this project, consistent with recommendations.

Motion- Mitch Cohen to accept the language on the Warrant as amended and authorize the signature of the Warrant. Seconded- Paula Brouillette. All - aye.

Government Study Committee Report (Handout):
Mike Hughes- The Committee took a lot of time to produce their findings and recommendations. The report in front of us holds a lot of good information and wouldn’t suggest we’ll get through in one evening. We have to determine what we want to do with it, structure it going forward and form a strategy how to deal with it. Multitude of discussions and decisions that need to be made or not, need to work on how to approach this with a time frame attached.
Discussion:
Reorganizing the structure of our government, designed around making things work properly as opposed to how the people that you have in positions get along and work together. There are some changes we as a Board can make now-policies and Mike’s authority-some need Town Meeting vote. Needs more understanding by the residents and what it is we’re trying to accomplish. (Paula Brouillette referenced study done in Clinton that was defeated) There are some sweeping changes recommended here as far as how you organize your finance, what kind of positions you want to remain elected vs appointed, having a DPW and moving towards consolidating some functions that operate separately today. Perception is the Board spends not enough time on policy development as it should, and more time on operational, part of that is we don’t have a Town Manager. We have to decide and the Executive Administrator implements. Discuss about expanding his role to Town Manager, what that means for us and what kind of things would make his life easier from an operational stand point and day to day decisions. With lack of a strategic plan in terms of where we want to end up, certain pieces may not help us get there even though we can make some changes now.
A Charter is several steps away. Executive Administrator position is not in our bylaws, make sure the right person is in the right position. Pull as many of the administrative tasks away from this Board as possible, remove as much of the hiring process from this Board as possible and focus on policy and budget and give responsibility to the Administrator without the authority. Streamlining government, what the Board should be involved with and work our way down from there to get to that efficiency we’re trying to achieve. Moving forward, will probably need some education on some of these issues.
Consensus of the Board In agreement the first step is look at the Executive Administrator’s position in terms of helping which direction to move and should step away from day to day operation stuff that we can legally do. Mike Guzinski Will gather information and make a list for the Board: Things possible without the Boards’ approval, some more broader and effective would require the Boards’ assistance in approving, what his position looks like now and what could immediately change in terms of his level of authority and responsibility, where the Board has the authority by right to delegate and which things would require action by the legislative body. Some based on the system of government, officials elected or appointed in the community. A lot of issues have to do with time frames.

Town Manager and Town Administrator defined equally under state law. How a Town Charter is set as to what powers those positions have, not necessarily the title. Move in a graduated approach to a Charter or to a strong Manager, where we want to be and how we get there incrementally. Setting up stronger lines of authority between the Administrator and Department Heads, some currently elected, turn them into appointed positions, but appointed and working for the Executive of the Town with the ability to delegate more-Treasurer, Tax Collector, Town Clerk, and some of the others, to get to a well managed system.
Look back at the agendas and try to categorize them, use the work structures provided to try and organize, how we get to the end result and implement it to move forward.
Town Manager Process- Mike Guzinski Other communities have tried the Charter, have less than a 50-50 chance of passing. The Government Study Committee talked about several different paths and It depends on which path you think is most appropriate, approved by and how the community would react and support it, has the best chance of succeeding, whether that path is through a series of bylaws or a complete Charter process having the full support of the Board. Or whether you feel the community would be more accepting and approve a more graduated approach through developing a series of bylaws that address areas you feel important but also doable in a short term. The Charter path gets much further much faster if it succeeds, but a bit of a gamble, it could be a lot of work getting up to there and if you fail you’re back at step one again. Failure: too much change too quickly, making a lot of changes of Elected Officials to appointed that are opposed by segments of the community, in some towns some of the Selectmen have actually opposed it. Success: sometimes there has been political calamity in that community and a grass roots campaigns get moving, get enough signatures to put on a warrant and uprising that pushes something through right past the Board, a lot of town officials work together, you never get a unanimous agreement but a broad agreement and consensus on things it improves your chances.
The reason this started was we looked at the bylaws and tried reorganizing them, hired a firm that went through the bylaws and compared to all town meeting votes.
It’s not a minor task to bring up the (63?) recommendations.
Consensus of the Board: Make a commitment to at least a minimum of one meeting a month to have some of these on the agenda if not both meetings, and start with the 17 general categories grouped with the 34 detailed, and continue discussions to one meeting a month and if going too slowly bump it up.

Financial Policies- Identified in #11 in the study. Conclusion was to meet together with the Budget Group and try to build together a financial picture. Now that we have a “Free Cash” number we’ll be able to work on it.

Mike Guzinski These are big decisions for the Town and beyond regular policy. You’re talking about governmental structure. Happy to give my professional input from time to time, do the leg work and provide options, and help as much as I can but as the Board, you’re the elected leaders of the Community.

Adjournment- Mitch Cohen made a motion to adjourn at 9:14pm.
Seconded – Scott Medeiros. All – aye.



Respectfully Submitted;




Jane L. Alger
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