Governance Committee Presents a Progress Report to Select Board

The Select Board welcomed the Governance Committee (GC) to its Monday evening Zoom meeting, opened by Chair John Cronin at 6:32 PM.  The Governance Committee reviewed the status of their work and briefly responded to questions from the Board and the audience.

Early in its tenure, the Governance Committee found that creating a new Article articulating the Budget Development Process would also entail possible changes to Article I, “The Town Meeting,” and Article 4, “The Finance Committee.”  Highlights of each of these three items were briefly presented by a GC member.

Paul LeBeau (above) highlighted changes to Article I, “Town Meetings” including a clarification of the dates of the Spring and Fall Town Meetings, and a language clarification that both meetings are part of the Annual Town Meeting.  Additionally, the notice requirements would eliminate “in print newspaper,” although notice will be posted on the town website and print copies of the Warrant would continue to be provided to designated town buildings, such as the Senior Center.

Scott McKechnie (above) highlighted the proposed Budget Development Article, emphasizing Best Practice remains at the forefront of the Committee’s work.  McKechnie said outlining the Budget Process is critical to a town’s Boards, Committees, Financial Officers, and any transition process is aided by such writing.  The process will articulate the active role of all involved. Both the Capital and the Operating Budgets will be presented at the Spring Town Meeting.  Additionally, the GC is proposing the establishment of a Capital Planning Committee that would be responsible for a 5-year plan. 

Tyler briefly reviewed Article III, “The Finance Committee.” Section 4 will contain a more detailed description of responsibilities of the FinCom. The Article describes the FinCom as “an objective, independent organization that reviews and recommends,” said Tyler.  Finally, the thorough analysis of the FinCom remains intact. 

Ben Sparrell, Select Board member, was interested in more information about the inclusion of the Capital Budget and the Operating Budget in the May Annual Town Meeting.  Tina Hein requested the GC consider creating an implementation plan that would elucidate the adoption process.  Public comments included Dan Alfred, (member of FinCom) requesting further collaboration with the Finance Committee, and Anne Louise Hanstad, (School Committee member), requesting more information about the timing of capital planning. 

Travis Ahern, Town Administrator, requested the Select Board’s approval to put Holliston’s name in the queue for assistance from the MA Division of Local Services.  (This entity “promotes sound municipal finance management practices and supports local officials by providing guidance, training and oversight.” (https://www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-local-services)  The Board voted to approve this request.

Tyler said that the group will return to the Select Board, the Finance Committee, the Town Administrator, and Financial Officers once these three Articles are further finessed, seeking suggestions for improvements.  In final form, the Articles will be presented at the Spring Town Meeting in May 2021.

At 7:16 PM, the Governance Committee left the meeting of the Select Board to continue its meeting.  Minutes from the 11/12/20 meeting were approved.  A short review of their time with the Select Board followed.  Tyler said the Committee will begin to plan a second round of meetings with Boards, Committees, Town Administrator, and Financial Officers. 

Looking ahead, the group spoke briefly of two topics they plan to examine in the coming months:  the selection of the Board of Assessors and the role of the Town Administrator.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 PM.  The next meeting of the Governance Committee is December 8, at 7 PM.

Yvette Cain

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