Governance Committee Meeting 8-3-2020
The recently created Governance Committee sought clarification of the Select Board’s charge* to them as the two groups met in tandem at 6:30 on Monday evening preceding their individual 7 PM meetings.
Each Select Board member provided input to the clarification of “strategic plan”: the ways Holliston’s Boards and Committees are interrelated to complete the work of the town.
Select Board Chair, John Cronin described two work phases required of the charge—in the short term phase, research on by-law issues, and in the long term, a review of the structure, organization, and function of our Boards and Committees.
Select Board member Ben Sparrell requested a “government that works for the governed,” adding the importance of the Committee’s focus on the residents’ perspective. On a similar note, residents at “office hours” for Select Board member Tina Hein want the “Governance Committee to make it [information] more straightforward.” She was pleased to note that the Municipal Modernization Act will be a part of the Committee’s work and asked if the Committee plans to share the 15 towns comparison chart they are using in their research comparisons.
The two groups agreed to meet on a monthly basis. The Governance Committee (GC) remote meeting was called to order shortly after 7 PM by Chair Sam Tyler once the Select Board departed for its meeting. Members approved Minutes from their July 16, 2020, meeting.
The Committee discussed the next steps to their work that would entail a review of other towns’ by-laws, fiscal procedures, the budget process, terms used, timing, and participants. Tyler explained, “Step one will include an examination of towns comparable to Holliston to see what we can learn from them…looking at other’s by-laws [might help us] to see what is unclear in Holliston’s bylaws.” “We will begin with these 15 and decide if we want to add more. Good lessons for us may come from other towns.” Tyler plans to post the 15-town comparison chart on their website.
Member Christina Lingham inquired about the “big picture” process of the Committee. Tyler said, “It depends on the timing… First, the recommendations would go to the Select Board, and the Select Board will decide if the recommendations go to the Town Meeting…We will know what we think prior to our recommendation.”
GC Clerk, Paul LeBeau noted that the Committee would be doing “two things at once: research other towns, and reach out to town officials and boards about the issues to address.” The group plans to create a survey for “areas we might want to look at.”
LeBeau is preparing an organizational chart of the town for the Committee’s purpose. Member Len Engel said that the chart would provide “an idea of how complicated it might be for a resident to get answers to questions” presently in town. Tyler said that eventually the chart will be posted on the website.
Tyler requested each member familiarizing themselves with 3 towns’ bylaws (from the 15 town comparison chart) and compose individual questions for the planned survey. These items will be shared at the next meeting.
In other business:
- Scott McKechnie was voted Vice Chair.
- Members discussed the “Comparable Town Table”:
- Criteria include: population, equalized valuations per capita, and income per capita.
- “Purpose is for comparisons,” Tyler said.
- Reports of each town to be shared at the next meeting.
- Members discussed possible communication strategies:
- Town website will be maintained and used for posting official documents and work products.
- A Facebook page (not the “official face” of the Committee) to be created by Lingham. No official documents or work products will reside here.
- Holliston Reporter will publish press releases and announcements.
The Governance Committee adjourned at 8:17 PM, and will meet remotely on August 19, at 7 PM.
* From the Town of Holliston Select Board “Governance Committee Profile/Charge”
Mission: Assist in the development of town-wide policies, act as liaison between all departments, boards, committees, and commissions as it relates to governance. Help with the development of a strategic plan.
Examples of work for the Governance Committee, including but not limited to the following:
- Define roles of the elected boards, committees, omissions, and department heads;
- Development of an organizational chart;
- Recommend, if needed, changes to the form of government; and
- Develop an organizational strategic plan.
For more, see GC website: https://www.townofholliston.us/governance