One of the advantages of living in a small community is that there are many opportunities for residents to have a direct impact on the operations of the town. Whether it is a group of citizens advocating for slower speed limits, someone taking the time to attend a Selectmen’s meeting to opine on an agenda item or petitioners crafting an article for a town meeting warrant, local government is easily assessable with just a modicum of effort. Time and again I see examples of a handful of people being able to mobilize and achieve an outcome that they care about. It is how we came to have curbside composting pick-up, the improved sidewalks around Memorial School and the establishment of a trust fund to pay for retiree health insurance benefits, to name just a few examples.
Two new opportunities for citizen engagement with your town government are available, one short term and the other on-going. The short term opportunity is to serve on a citizen’s review panel to assist in the hiring of a permanent DPW Director. The Town has benefited greatly from the services of interim Director Carol Murray. Carol originally came to us to cover the 3 month period while we hired a new Director. We quickly came to appreciate the work Carol could do for us and we were able to sign a three year contract with the firm with whom she works to have her longer. While we could extend this contract a bit longer, the desire is to have someone in place for the long-term. Thus we have initiated a search for a new Director who will be a permanent Town employee starting this spring as we have had in the past.
Five citizens are needed who would like to serve on a temporary review committee to assist in evaluating the candidates for DPW Director. The work of the advisory group will begin in January and should be completed by the end of February. If you are interested in serving in this capacity please drop me a note that includes a brief description of your background/areas of expertise.
The other opportunity involves a longer-term commitment. A new Town Administrator Advisory Group is being created as part of a larger initiative to help ensure that the work of the municipality is meeting the needs of the community and anticipating the challenges that await us in the future. This small group (3-5 residents) will serve as a sounding board for me to trouble shoot town operations and discuss new approaches for service delivery. While the group will be advisory only, I view it as a type of “think tank” where discussions of operations and of various strategies for moving the town forward can be explored without the pressures of statutory decision making responsibilities that both the Selectmen and Finance Committee have. The group will decide how often it needs to meet, likely no more than once every month or two. Again, interested individuals should drop me a note explaining your interest in sitting down with me on a regular basis as we continually assess how the Town is doing.
Of course, there are the many other boards and committees that help the town run smoothly. Vacancies are listed on the Town’s web site. I encourage all of you to take advantage of the easy access you have to your town government.