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  1. Select Board MeetingMon, Aug 21 07:00 pmAgenda link
  2. Open Space Committee MeetingMon, Aug 28 07:00 pm

All Boards' / Committee Working Session—Memorial Hall
July 18, 2007—6:00 p.m.

Joseph Judd, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen opened the meeting and thanked everyone for coming.  He turned the meeting over to Bob Manners being that the initial concept of the meeting was a project that Bob had been working on over the last couple of months.  Bob explained that the intent of the meeting was to work collaboratively with town Boards and Committees and gather input with the hopes that a uniform approach could be created for everyone to use with regards to appointments, recording of minutes, conduct at meetings and public records requests.

            Comments and discussion from this working session will be illustrated in the order that they appear on the agenda.

            Gene Butler felt that the process was backwards.  He would have preferred that members of the various Boards and Committees met first; discussed these areas of concerns amongst themselves and then bring forth their recommendations to the Board of Selectmen.

Appointments to Boards and Committees:
            Open Space member, Larry Flaccuss developed a talent bank questionnaire similar to one used by the Town of Williamsburg as a way of soliciting interest from residents.  The questionnaire could serve as a tool for the Selectmen when seeking individuals willing to serve.  Larry felt that the Selectmen should chose individuals with expertise and felt that if there are vacancies, they should be advertised.
Agricultural Commission member, Karen Gould discussed the problems that occurred with the most recent Open Space appointments and did not think the town should use a “selective” process to choose candidates.
Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman, Joe Palmeri suggested that vacancies be advertised in the newspaper and handled as though they were job postings.  Joe did not think that a talent bank questionnaire was a bad idea however, he felt that by the time an opening came around, the individual would have moved out of town.
Selectboard member, John Payne pointed out that historically, the town has had difficulty filling vacancies.  He suggested posting the openings on the town web site.
Zoning Board member, John Taylor felt that the talent bank questionnaire would be difficult to manage and could become cumbersome.  He too suggested an annual plea in the newspapers and a posting on the town website.
Open Space member, Eugene Butler pointed out that in his 50 years as a resident of Shelburne this was by far the worst year in terms of handling appointments.  He believes that names should come before the Board of Selectmen and the Board should appoint.  He does not feel that Committee and Board Chairman’s should be involved.
Open Space member Joel Dwight stated that he was in favor of posting the vacancies on the town website and if by chance there are more candidates than spaces, he feels that names should be drawn in lottery fashion.
Open Space member, James Gamache felt that the town would have better luck posting the vacancies outside the town hall on a poster noting that some residents do not have access to the internet.
Planning Board member, Beth Simmonds did not agree that individuals have to be “experts” in a particular area in order to be chosen.
Board of Health member, Bob Gonzales also agreed with posting vacancies in the newspaper.
Carolyn Wheeler stated that she too like the idea of using multi-media tools to attract interested candidates.
Reiterating the ideas had been suggested so far Selectmen, Bob Manners listed the town website, newspapers, posting at the transfer station, town bulletin boards as well as have the Board of Selectmen announce vacancies on a regular basis as ways of advertising vacancies..
Agricultural Commission member, Karen Gould, stated that word of mouth also works well providing the Chairman of the particular Board and/or Committee brings the names forth to the Board of Selectmen for appointment.
Moving through the agenda Bob Manners asked what should happen once names are brought forward.
Joe Palmeri suggested that all names should be submitted directly to the Board of Selectmen than forwarded to the appropriate Board or Committee for review.  Then that particular committee could meet jointly with the Board of Selectmen and recommend the appointment.
Karen Gould asked how one would go about “weeding out” who should be on a Committee and/or Board.  She suggested that once a process has been determined, it should be documented as a reference tool for everyone to use.
Selectmen, Joe Judd believes that Chairman’s of each Board and/or Committee should review each letter on interest and make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen.
Larry Flaccuss suggested that it be the responsibility of each Board or Committee to report vacancies to the Board of Selectmen.
Conservation Commission, Chairman, Norman Davenport stated that his Commission is one member short.  Typically they are able to come up with a quorum.  In the past he has encouraged interested candidates to attend their meetings to see if they are interested in serving.  He noted that this approach works well one on one but would not work with a large group of candidates.
James Gamache suggested utilizing a sign-up sheet in the town hall or the talent bank questionnaire.  Names submitted in either format could then be forwarded to the Board of Selectmen.
Planning Board member, Chris Davenport feels that when you have too many “Chiefs” involved you have mayhem; noting that the Open Space Committee appointments took months to resolve.  Good, bad or indifferent, Chris feels that the Board of Selectmen should make the decision and the main goal should be what is in the best interests of the town.
Assessor’s Chairman, Joe Mattei spoke of the hiring process that was utilized for the Assessor’s Office.  He stated that had the Selectmen chosen a candidate without the Assessor’s input, his Board would not have been happy.  He agreed that the Board of Selectmen should serve as the appointing authority however there should be some form of relationship between the Committee and/or Board.
Bob Manners explained how the existing process has worked in the past. 
Cable Advisory member, Michael Duffy stated that willingness to serve is most important and if there are more candidates than openings, the town should use a lottery system.
Joel Dwight felt that if interested candidates are discussed too much then there might be a tendency to choose an individual with “like” thoughts rather than someone who will bring diversity to the group.
John Payne stated that he is not sure that “one-size” fits all in this particular area.
John Taylor did not think the lottery concept was a bad idea.
Carolyn Wheeler thinks that the entire Committee and/or Board should be involved in the decision making process; someone they can work with; someone who shares the same goals.
Norman Davenport stated that there is quite a learning curve when you become a new member to any Board and/or Committee.  He would hope that who ever volunteers is willing to make a commitment.
Eugene Butler finds it hard to believe that someone interested in serving would not have the best interests of that particular Board and/or Committee in mind therefore there should be no need for input from the various members; he contends that the Board of Selectmen should make the appointments.
John Taylor respectfully disagreed.
John Payne believes that the Board of Selectmen needs to look at the composition of the various Committees and Boards to ensure diversity.
Bob Manners asked whether or not Committees and Boards want to participate in the appointment process.
Open Space member Christine Baronas indicated that Boards want input.
Bob Gonzales stated that his Board would want input to ensure that everyone gets along and that the individual is willing to share the workload.
John Payne asked whether or not land owners or tenants who are not registered voters should be allowed to serve on town Boards or Committees. 
Joe Palmeri felt that individuals serving should be registered voters.
Larry Flaccus would like to accommodate taxpayers whether they are registered voters or not citing the heron family as an example.
It was decided that the question would be forwarded to Counsel for her recommendation.
John Taylor asked whether it was legal to record a meeting without first making an announcement.  John was referring to the fact that Ms. Gould was recording the meeting.  Terry Mosher read an excerpt from the Open Meeting Law that stated that taping is allowed providing that the individual does not interfere with the meeting.

Recording Minutes of a Meeting:
Norman Davenport stated that he does not like the idea of having minutes posted on the world-wide web for everyone to access.  His Board deals with a lot of sensitive issues like Chapter 61 parcels and does not believe that the information should be so widely accessible.
John Taylor agreed that Norman concerns were valid however the Zoning Board just voted to place all of last year’s minutes on their web page.
Questions then arose as to whether or not the Board of Selectmen decides whether or not minutes are posted or if the decision could be left up to each individual Board and/or Committee.  It was suggested that a statement could be made on the website noting the availability of minutes at the Town Hall for those Boards and/or Committees who do not wish to publish their minutes on the town’s web site. 
Beth Simmonds stated that any prior issue relative to the availability of minutes was a direct result of certain minutes not being made available at all.
Carolyn Wheeler – liked the idea of a statement on the web page indicating where minutes could be obtained rather than physically posting them.
Bob Manners asked whether or not each Board/Committee had an assigned Clerk, most indicated that they did.  Larry Flaccus stated that the Open Space Committee has a rotating clerk so that more than one person shares the responsibility.
Bob Manners asked whether or not Boards/Committees would utilize a town-hired Clerk.  Chuck Washer, Planning Board Chairman indicated that his Board would utilize a Clerk.
Larry Flaccus stated that it was unclear as to whether or not Boards/Committee can rely on town office staff for assistance.
Conservation Commission member,  Steve McCormick stated that his Commission’s minutes are sparse therefore they do not need a Clerk.  He did note that Maureen Pike does a tremendous amount of work for their Commission.
Larry Flaccus asked whether or not Maureen could assist other Boards in her capacity of Town Office Assistant. 
Executive Secretary, Terry Mosher stated that Maureen’s job description is specific to the Conservation Commission and additional responsibilities would be at the discretion of the Board of Selectmen.  Terry noted that most Boards/ Committees work independently and do not require much assistance from town office staff.
Karen Gould thinks that it would be a great investment to have one person recording the minutes for all Boards/Committees then the minutes could be readily available to the public.
Norman Davenport noted that on a Thursday evening, there could be up to four Boards/Committees meeting at the same time making it impossible for one person to do the job.
Agricultural Committee member, Barbara Parry noted that her Committee is relatively new and has only met on three occasions.  She asked how soon she is expected to make the minutes available to the public.  Terry Mosher read an excerpt from the Public Records law that states that minutes become public records from the moment they are created regardless of the form. As public records, minutes must be made available to the public, upon oral or written request, at reasonable times and in a reasonable place.  The request must be honored promptly, but no later than ten days of the request. 
John Payne reminded everyone that “draft” versions should be appropriately marked as “not approved” and once the minutes have been adopted, the draft version becomes null and void.
John also reminded everyone that minutes must contain date, time, place of meeting, identify members present and all votes taken.  Minutes do not have to include discussion.
Joe Palmeri suggested the town contact the web site manager to see whether or not the format in which the minutes are posted is protected against someone accessing the site and changing the minutes.
Conduct at Meetings:
Discussion relative to how appointments are scheduled when an individual wishes to meet with a town Board and/or Committee.  Joe Judd stated that he has asked his Board to consider a format whereby an individual would request his/her appointment in writing 3 to 5 days in advance of the meeting.  Some individuals thought such a process would be a waste of time and too bureaucratic.  It appeared that most appointments are currently being scheduled by contacting the Chairmen of a particular Board and/or Committee or in the case of the Board of Selectmen, through their Executive Secretary.

Discussion then focused on public comment.
Eugene Butler believes that Advisory Committees like the Open Space Committee should allow for discussion throughout their meetings, noting that input is vital.  School Committees and Board of Selectmen’s however have certain business obligations that must be done therefore, with the exception of general comments Eugene feels that public comments should wait until the end of the meeting.  If people have not had an opportunity to speak, they should be invited back to the next meeting.
Joe Palmeri feels that public comment should be left up to the discretion of each Board.
Joe Judd stated that the Board of Selectmen may consider placing a time limit of 15 minutes on their public comment period.
Joe Mattei felt that his rights as a citizen would be abridged if he were not allowed the opportunity to speak for as long as he wished.
John Payne would like to see individuals come before Boards and/or Committees in a prepared, organized manner.
Open Space Committee member, Rita Jaros sent an email to the Board of Selectmen in support of a limited public comment period.
Records Requests:
How are requests for records being handled?  For the most part requests for records are being sent directly to the associated Board and/or Committee.
Larry Flaccus stated that recently a relatively large records request was received by his Committee.  Rather than copy the entire document, he made the records available through the Town Clerk’s office for the individual’s review.  If a few copies were needed, the Town Clerk was willing to assist.
There was discussion as to whether or not a “Records Request” form would be useful.  The Zoning Board of Appeals met recently with the Town Clerk and agreed that the ZBA will provide minutes for her to make available at the Town Hall.  The Town Clerk will be responsible for letting people review them and copy them as needed for no fee.  If additional information or documentation is needed the Town Clerk will ask the interested party to contact the ZBA Chairman.
There was a lengthy discussion relative to “fees”.
Some felt that a fee mechanism should be put into place for “excessive” requests.  Discussion then ensued relative to what is considered excessive and what is not.

Before closing the meeting, everyone was thanked for their valuable input.  Joe stated that the Board of Selectmen will review the information received tonight and try to formulate a plan. Joe cautioned that these changes will not be implemented overnight and many of them will require more dialogue.

Meeting adjourned 8:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,

 

Terry Mosher
Executive Secretary