25 Oct 2012
Governance voted not to go to Dec. 10th Special Town Meeting with any changes in the Town Manager’s Act at its 7:30 a.m. meeting today, saying they need time to consider a multitude of minor “tweaks” to the Act.
This will not be good news for Selectmen. Selectmen will have to either take the changes to the Act to the Dec. 10th STM themselves, or void Town Manager Mike Milanoski’s contract and start the search for a new Town Manager. I’m guessing they’ll do nothing.
If Selectmen do not change the Act at the December Special TM, their contract with Milanoski may well be a hot political issue at the 2013 elections if former selectman Ted Carr and Selectmen Chair Paul Carlson run for a third term. Carr and Carlson are two of the five guys who signed an illegal contract with Milanoski. It is expected Governance will suggest changes to the Town Manager Act at 2013 Town Elections. Members of the Governance Committee has said many times they feel Milanoski is doing a good job and they understand the Selectmen’s desire to work with him
Cohasset Governance will take its discussion
of the Town Manager Act and other Governance discussions
to a public hearing be held at 7 p.m.,
Monday, Oct. 29 at the media room at the high school.
The Committee hopes to publish on the town’s website
An agenda of the some issues it’s been discussing.
Former Selectmen Ronnie McMorris attended the early morning meeting and suggested the committee might ask town meeting for some money for a consultant to work with them. Presently, Chair Christine Cunning is working with Marilyn Contravas, an advisor from the Department of Housing and Community Development. McMorris added that the Mass Municipal Association did a study of the Town Manager’s Act six years into the Act in 1990 and that the committee should avail itself of a copy of the same.
The committee hopes to put something on the Town’s website before its public hearing Monday in order that townspeople can see what they’ve been discussing. The committee has pretty much ruled out recommending a charter commission. Committeeman Merle Brown pointed out that the process of electing a charter commission is a cumbersome one and that the town had voted against that process in the ‘60s. Brown said the Town wasn’t ready for it then and said “I don’t think I’m ready for it now.”
Committemen Sam Wakeman and Jack Keniley both agreed that the Town Manager Act is more flexible.
Governance will show attendees through a power point program its progress with committee surveys, discussions it has with regard to the merging of some committees, making some committees appointed as opposed to elected, making sure all committees keep minutes, possibly post minutes on the town’s website, post meetings, rotate their chairmanships annually, and term limits for committee members
Cunning said: “Maybe each committee needs to look at this and decide what’s best.” She noted that the state’s consultant said selectmen can not be appointed acting town manager or town manager.
Keniley said: “We eliminated idea that being appointed or elected doesn’t eliminate your being town manager.”
Lee Stone said it would be important to tell citizens at the public meeting what the limits of the committee’s authority is, saying “We are not a super secret power organization trying to take over the town. Everything goes through selectmen first, town meeting second.”
A representative of the Department of Revenue (DOR) is expected to attend the committee’s Nov. 15th meeting
Keniley said: The DOR is biased towards professional management. We should understand that when they come in.
Cunning noted that the state consultant recommended keeping most of the town’s boards and commissions elected as opposed to appointed. She also said the committee has a better understanding of how to handle some changes, such as budget planning recommendations, which will be put into the bylaws in simple language. Also, Cunning said, it is recommended by the state that the committee not get involved in the Town Manager’s rights. “The Town Manager has the right to appoint. Period.”
Town Manager Mike Milanoski told Governance that plans are in process to combine water and sewer into one board with separate enterprise funds at Annual Elections.
Dormitzer and Brown disagreed with one another about the time needed for selectmen to find a Town Manager. Dormitzer said: “One hundred and eighty days is too short. I don’t want to bind the selectmen. They need adequate time.”
Brown argued: “You’ve got to give them a time frame. Otherwise they’ll do what they’re doing now – sitting on the acting town manager.”
Keniley agreed with Dormitzer that the selectmen should have flexibility..
Committeewoman Trish Morse said: “Why would you not begin the search for a Town Manager?” She said the search for a Town Manager should begin as soon as the former town manager has been terminated or has resigned.