Cohasset Governance working on final bylaw changes

Governance says these bylaws will bring the Cohasset's bylaws into compliance with the Amended Town Manager's Act. They will be voted on at Annual Town Meeting on April 28th.

Governance continues to work on bringing the bylaws up-to-date with the Amended Town Manager’s Act. (Statute). The committee’s final by-law changes will be given to Selectmen early in March.

At Tuesday night’s session Town Counsel Paul DeRensis gave Governance a handout of a discussion of the legal ramifications of their document. He said the press could not have it because of attorney/client privilege.  

Under Section 17 of the suggested bylaw change Budget Planning is defined as being two members of the Board of Selectmen, two members of Capital Budget, two members of the Advisory committee and two members of the School committee. Ex-officio members are the Town Manager, the Town Finance Director, the School Supt. and the School business manager.

Budget Planning doesn’t appear in the current bylaws and it shows up in line 230 of the Amended TM Act as a reference.

At its Feb. 4th meeting, DeRensis said Governance would have to change some language to Section 17 (c) of the suggested bylaw change that says in draft v14: The Budget Planning committee shall develop and maintain a five-year rolling revenue and expense projection for the Town’s operating budget. The projection shall estimate revenues and fixed non-controllable expenses to develop an available revenue project.

DeRensis noted that the Town Manager is in charge of the above and the Town Manager is only consulting with Budget Planning. “You can’t put Budget Planning in charge of that (everything in red),” DeRensis said.

Jack Keniley, member of the Governance Committee and chairman of Capital Budget, said the rationale for creating the Budget Planning committee was to bring everyone into play, have everybody talking to one another. 

DeRensis suggested governance follow the language of the Amended Town Manager Act that was just signed by the governor and not add language that conflicts with the statute or confuses it.

Much discussion revolved around Article IV APPOINTED TOWN OFFICERS, Sect. 1.

Governance had added some language with regard to the town manager’s qualifications that were not in the Statute. Again, DeRensis advised Governance to return to the language of the Statute.

DeRensis also advised Governance to change many of their shalls to mays; An example: DeRensis said if the bylaw said Selectmen shall assess the operations of town government to identify in writing the skills and abilities that the applicant for Town Manager should possess, and the selectmen did not do the same, it could become a legal issue in future years. Further, he said, it could frustrate the process, “It could be a Show Stopper.” He pointed out that that the Statute already says what the skills are.

The Statute states only that a search committee will be appointed. The suggested bylaw change says the search committee will be composed of residents of Cohasset and the search committee will present the selectmen with candidates. Further, the selectmen may reject all candidates and terminate the search committee. And then what? Can Selectmen hire the Collins Center?

Governance committee member Merle Brown said it was the committee’s intent to have selectmen choose a citizens’ search committee as opposed to a professional recruiting group. He said they didn’t go along with the town’s hiring the costly Collins Center.

We asked DeRensis if the Statute itself would preclude selectmen from ever again hiring a Collins Center recruitment group as a search committee. Neither DeRensis nor the Governance committee responded.  

Governance will meet Friday, Feb. 7 from 9-11 at the Middle High School to make further changes to the by-law language, much of it recommended by DeRensis.


© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed