Town Meeting to Vote on Adopting Manager Post
WESTMINSTER -- A charter that would create a town manager position to help the town run better will go before voters at next month’s Town Meeting.
“We have a $21 million budget but don’t have a full-time person on the ground to make sure it is executed ... and have a common vision for the town,” said Town Government Study Committee Chair John Fairbanks.
The committee, which has been working on a charter for about two and a half years, presented its recommendation the Board of Selectmen Monday. That charter lays out responsibilities, processes, and allows for government reorganization.
The town manager would be able to appoint the police and fire chiefs, some department heads, and board and committee members. Selectmen would approve those appointments.
That person would also prepare the town’s budget, negotiate collective bargaining agreements, oversee human resources and personnel action, and be the town’s procurement officer, according to the proposed charter.
“This isn’t new,” Fairbanks said. “It’s pretty proven.”
More than 100 cities and towns in Massachusetts have a Town Manager-style of government, he said.
Having a town manager could also lead to better communications and collaboration, Fairbanks said.
The charter also proposes limiting elected positions to the Board of Selectmen, regional school committee, town moderator, and the Library Board of Trustees.
The Licensing Board and the parks, roads, cemetery, water, and sewer commissions would be eliminated under the proposed charter. Selectmen would take over responsibilities from the board and those commissions.
A transition plan included in the charter would allow incumbents from previously elected positions to continue until their terms expire or until reappointment.
For boards and committees that will be eliminated, incumbents will serve until July 1. Members of the liquor and public works commissions would serve until the end the year until their responsibilities are transferred over to the Board of Selectmen or the Department of Public Works director.
Selectmen would also appoint an interim town manager and begin the search for someone to serve as Westminster’s first town manager.
To be approved, the charter would need to pass a Town Meeting vote, gain approval from the state Legislature, and pass a town ballot vote, Fairbanks said.
The committee has held about a dozen meetings and hosted public outreach meetings over the summer for residents to familiarize themselves with the proposed charter.
A copy of the document, the committee’s report, and the presentation made to selectmen is on the town website. Print copies are also available at the senior center, library, and town clerk’s office.
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