Town Manager Act Amendment may be signed into law early 2014

Rep. Garrett Bradley met with the Cohasset Governance committee this morning to discuss the home rule petition process. He said he normally advices constituents that most bills take up to a year to get to the Governor’s office; however, if the stars should become perfectly aligned, it could be on the Governor’s desk as early as January 2014. But it appears March-April is a more realistic date.

It does not appear the bill will be signed into law early enough for Cohasset’s acting town manager to apply for the permanent town manager position in Cohasset. The current act requires the town manager to be professionally qualified, and not coming from any of the appointed committees at town hall.

Selectmen have not yet set the qualifications for their town manager search, which could begin as early as this month or even at tonight’s meeting if the board should vote to contract with the UMass Boston Collins Recruitment Center – an Action Possible follows the agenda item.

In answer to the committee’s concerns, Bradley said he didn’t know if there was opposition to the bill, stressing it was important to have “your group” show up at the hearing. “We support whatever town meeting supports, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the act will fly through the legislature.” He noted that there is not set time frame, other than the fact that anything requiring a role call vote had to be accomplished by July 31, midnight of 2014 and that committees had to report bills out by the second Wednesday of March 2014, and that date could be pushed out to the middle of April.

Bradley explained that Cohasset’s act came in late, due to its May annual town meeting. He said there were already 6,000 bills scheduled out. “Anything (Cohasset) that comes in after that is a late file.”

The Municipalities and Regional Government committee could schedule a hearing as early as late June or September. Sara Peake is chairman of that committee. Bradley said he expected no debate on the house floor, and felt it would move pretty quickly unless someone stepped forward to object. If so, he said he felt the delay might be at the committee level.

Bradley said, “I believe this is going to pass, it’s just a matter of time. There are so many different steps involve. Things get pushed off, held up. (The act could become) the victim of whatever calendar is set.” Bradley told the committee that a hearing would be and is always required. “If the committee Googles this issue, it will realize there is opposition.

Bradley cautioned: There is a lot of room for problems, you may be violating section of the law you didn’t understand, etc.” If problems were to surface, Bradley said the amended act might have to be fixed at a fall town meeting in order for it to proceed.”

“Technically, only financial matters start in the house, but this one was set to me. House counsel has already signed off on this. Senator (Bob) Hedlund is a co-sponsor, you may want to contact the senate counsel (Alice Moore),” Bradley said.

Citizen Kevin McCarthy wanted to know if Bradley was aware of any opposition to the act or knew of anyone who might speak against it at the hearing. Bradley said no.

Members of Governance said they felt there was some urgency to the act, as the selectmen were soon to be engaged upon a town manager search, and said they wished to talk with Senator Bob Hedlund who had been contacted but who had not responded.

Member Ralph Dormitzer said the amended Town Manager Act cleared up a lot of inconsistencies in the present act, such as the role of the town manager vs. the role of the selectmen, the removal process of the town manager, who appoints the auditor?

It appears the Governance committee has some concerns about its own calendar. Chair Christine Cunning said “We’ve been around almost two years, and are due to sunset this December. Member Jack Keniley said he would contact the Selectmen and ask to have their sunset moved to Dec. 2014 in order to have time to pursue changes in the bylaws. Keniley said there were rumors that the selectmen may decide to not renew the committee, which would put recommended bylaw changes in limbo, unless they could have them ready for an October special town meeting.

Cunning noted that the committee had hoped to deal with town manager qualifications and town manager search requirements through the bylaws. Some committee members said that with very few exceptions, Massachusetts selectmen appearto have complete authority over how they find and qualify a town manager.

Persons asking to be appointed to Governance are Kevin McCarthy, chairman of the Democrat Town Committee and Mary Jo Larsen. Both were present at the meeting.


© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed