Submitted to Chair: Daniel MacDonald
DRAFT VERSION PROVIDED HERE FOR THE PUBLIC'S EDUCATION________________________________________________________
This Draft is under review by committee members for securing their input, edits, suggestions to produce a final approved version to be submitted to the Board of Selectmen______________________________________________________________
This year the town of Groveland will have an opportunity to re-organize town government with the primary change being the board of selectmen from 3 to 5 members. The primary reasons to do this were explored and reported by a special committee convened known as the Government Advisory Committee. This committee was authorized by the Board of Selectmen and were charged with the responsibility to develop a proposal for reorganizing government based on precedents set by surrounding towns that have made a similar change due to common challenges.
Here are some of the reasons for making the change from 3 to 5 members. Hereafter, the Board of Selectmen will be referred to as the Board.
> There are issues that cannot be voted on by some members of the Board if they have a conflict of interest. This happens for example, when a board member has a relative in a town department. If the other two members do not agree on a matter the board is deadlocked. A simple example would be as follows. Assume that the highway department makes a request for a new dump truck. One of the Board members is related to the highway commissioner and therefore it would be a conflict of interest to vote on the matter. The other two members do not agree that a new truck is needed. Therefore, no decision is made by default because of deadlock. The chances of this scenario occurring with a 5 member board are far less likely
> Open Meeting Law violations are often easier to occur when 2 members discuss public issues privately because on a board of 3 a quorum exists with only 2. Once again this is less likely when there are 5 members.
> The "rule of two" . A super majority exists with only 2 members on a board of 3. Therefore appointments and other important matters can be controlled by only 2 people in the town and this , in some cases, may not be adequately representative for the town. There is a greater potential for abuse of power.
> Shared responsibilities. There are several boards and commissions that are charged with various responsibilities to address issues and manage resources. Additional members on the board can act as "liaison" members to help facilitate communications between boards and commissions and the board of selectmen to help identify issues that need to be escalated. Furthermore, it may be possible to consolidate positions and create efficiencies in governance by enabling board members to chair other boards and commissions. So for example, a board member can be the chair of 2 commissions. Or the head of the health department can be a member of the Board.
> Appointment of certain , specialized positions is often warranted when the talent pool has to be expanded. When a position in town is voted for only residents can be considered in accordance to by laws and state requirements. Therefore, if qualified candidates from outside of our town need to be considered they can only be done so on the basis of being appointed. Appointing a position in a manner that is broadly representative of a growing population would appear more fair with a 5 member board, aided by a search committee of citizens. The current status reverts the appointment of individuals for key positions to only 2 people with the current Board structure. This is considered by many in our town to be undemocratic.
Over the years our town government has produced processes and followed protocols guided by law , by laws and also traditions. With increasing complexities in technological communications, reduced resources to operate with and new laws complexities have increased. Therefore, a Board with additional members can help address some of these complexities such as the scenarios indicated here and lead to a structure that accomplishes the following :
1. Better support town employees to carry out their duties
2. Better support boards and commissions to provide vital services.
3. Improve access to government services to citizens.
Below is a suggested scenario for the steps that may be taken to reconfigure town government. It is offered only a guide and should be rigorously reviewed, modified or otherwise re-directed by town counsel.
Thank you for your consideration.
Member, Groveland- Government Advisory Committee
April 29, 2013 Place the question to the people at ANNUAL TOWN MEETING
Between April 29, 2013 - May 6, 2014: Massachusetts State legislature passes a law to change Groveland's by laws to convert its current Board of Selectmen from 3 to 5 members.
May 6, 2014 : Voters of Groveland vote on the matter at TOWN ELECTIONS
In between the Town Meeting and the Election the Board of Selectmen will be required to submit a request to the General Court of Massachusetts ( State Legislature) to pass a law to enable Groveland to change its By Laws.
Please review this Warrant Article and pay particular attention to the RATIONALE portion below. There are four very compelling reasons to do this. Thank you in advance for your support!
Warrant Article to Increase Board of Selectmen
from 3 to 5 Members.
Sponsored by Joseph D'Amore , 9 Cherry Tree Lane Groveland, MA and Citizens of Groveland listed by Attachment
August 1, 2012
Article: To request the Board of Selectmen to seek to place before Annual Town Meeting: April 29, 2013 a question for a vote.
To see if the Town will vote to petition the General Court for special legislation increasing the size of the Board of Selectmen from three members to five as set forth below; provided, however, that the General Court may make clerical or editorial changes of form only to the Bill, unless the Board of Selectmen approves amendments to the Bill before enactment by the General Court which are within the scope of the general public objectives of the petition.
This article authorizes:
The Board of Selectmen to seek special legislation increasing the size of The Board of Selectmen from three to five members
By the voters at the April 29, 2013 Annual Town meeting and enacted by the General Court, this article would take effect only if approved by the voters of the Town at Town Election on May 5, 2014; or unless sooner by a Special Election authorized by the Board of Selectmen ; or any action relative thereto.
The petition for special legislation shall take the following form:
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR EXPANDING THE CURRENT BOARD OF SELECTMEN FROM 3-5 MEMBERS IN THE TOWN OF GROVELAND
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the sames as follows:
The number of members of The Board of Selectmen of the Town of Groveland shall be increased from 3 to 5. Each Selectman shall serve for a 3 year term, with no more than three Selectmen's terms to run concurrently. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, at the Annual Town Election following at least 64 days after acceptance of this act by the Voters, one additional member shall be elected to a two year term and one additional member shall be elected to a 3 year term. The terms of those members currently serving as Selectmen at the time of the adoption of this act shall be unchanged.
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This act shall be sumitted to the Voters of the Town of Groveland at the May 5, 2014 Town Elections , unless otherwise a Special Election is authorized sooner by the Board of Selectmen ; in the form of the following question which shall be placed on the official ballott be used for the elections.
Shall an act passed by the General Court in the year 2013 entitled " AN ACT PROVIDING FOR EXPANDING THE CURRENT BOARD OF SELECTMEN FROM 3-5 MEMBERS IN THE TOWN OF GROVELAND be accepted?
YES____ NO ______
No summary shall appear on the ballot below this question
If a majority of the votes cast in answer to this question is in the affirmative, Section 1 of this act shall take effect, but not otherwise.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this article is to increase the size of the current Board of Selectmen from 3 to 5 by authorizing the Board of Selectmen through an affirmative vote at Annual Meeting to petition the General Court (State Legislature) to allow for the question to be placed on the ballot for the townspeople to vote on it.
1. Potential for violation of Open Meeting Law: If two members of a 3 member board discuss town business in a forum that is other than a posted meeting, Open Meeting Law may be violated.
2. All members on The Board of Selectmen will act as Liaison Representatives to Boards and Commissions assigned to them or chosen by them. This will help facilitate communication and help strengthen relationships and understandings of the functions of Boards and Committees.
2. Town by- laws and Massachusetts laws require that elected positions are filled only by Groveland residents. However, in certain circumstances it may be necessary to expand a pool of qualified candidates for a critical town position beyond the citizens of Groveland When a position cannot be filled by residents appointing the position allows for Board of Selectmen to consider candidates from outside our town. Appointment provides the advantage of expanding the candidate’s pool but imposes the disadvantage of restricting the townspeople’s ability to decide through an election process. A five member board aided by search committee composed of citizens will be more representative when it becomes necessary to appoint a position. Currently, it is possible for only 2 members ( of the 3 member board) to “appoint” a position.
3. Population increases as well as diversity driven by multi-socio-economic factors imposes additional burden on Town Government to adequately represent the ever evolving and dynamic profile of our town and its people. A 5 member Board aligns well with precedents recently established in surrounding towns of similar social and economic factors. These town governments have converted successfully from 3 to 5 member Boards and have expanded their ability to better represent their townspeople while initiating efficiencies in governance, communications and municipal functions. The most recent example is the Town of Georgetown.