Town Governance Study Committee
Town Governance Study Committee Charter (TGSC)
The Town Governance Study Committee (TGSC) is being formed to advise the Select Board and the Town as a whole on matters related to the Town’s governance structure and practices, based on research and input from residents and other sources, including by proposing changes in the Town’s governance for consideration and potential adoption.
The formation of a TGSC at this time is appropriate and timely for the following reasons:
- This process has been discussed and supported at various times in recent years by the Select Board, multiple Town Moderators, and others, recognizing that most towns engage in similar processes from time to time.
- The Town’s anticipated development of a new Unified Master Plan, via its recently approved Unified Planning Committee, provides an additional impetus for the TGSC and makes it even more timely, so that its findings and recommendations may be included as a component of the Unified Master Plan, which is required by state statute.
- A citizens’ petition was passed at the Town’s May 2022 annual town meeting, authorizing the Select Board to petition for special legislation increasing the Select Board from three to five members. The Select Board has taken no position on the increase itself but believes that a thorough examination of this potential change in the context of a broader governance discussion is important and intends that such examination will be an critical component of the TGSC’s work, along with recommendations regarding implementation should an increase be recommended or otherwise pursued.
- The Town should also examine other Town governance bodies, elected and appointed, to determine if they are appropriately composed in terms of number of members, length of term, mission, and jurisdiction, so that each board and Town government as a whole work well for the benefit of the Town. One area of concern is declining resident participation in both elected and appointed positions.
The TGSC’s objectives shall include:
- Studying the Town’s form and structure of governance and current governance practices, across all functions and at all levels;
- Examining models and practices of governance in comparable communities and studies generated by municipal governance associations such as the Massachusetts Municipal Association;
- Conducting other research, gathering input from residents and other sources, and facilitating public engagement in and discussion of the TGSC’s work and objectives, including through surveys and public forums and with Town staff and consultants;
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses in the Town’s current form and structure of governance and current governance practices, examining alternatives and offering comparisons, and through open-minded inquiry and collaborative deliberation, producing one or more reports with recommendations as described below.
Upon completion of its work and at any time or times prior to such completion, the TGSC shall submit to the Select Board and Town one or more reports of its findings and any recommended changes to the Town’s form and structure of governance, bylaws, regulations, and/or practices. In addition, the TGSC may provide updates to or request feedback from the Select Board or other parties as requested or deemed useful or advisable from time to time. The TGSC is expected to proceed with a target of completing its work such that its recommendations may be considered and acted upon no later than the Town’s May 2025 annual town meeting.
The Select Board expects to appoint to the TGSC five to seven residents with strong interest in and/or knowledge of the Town’s governance and current Town affairs, to serve at the Select Board’s pleasure. In appointing TGSC members, the Select Board may also designate a chair or co-chairs, along with one or more ex officio members if the Select Board deems it advisable, and it is expected that one of the members appointed will be the Town Moderator if willing to serve.
To apply online for Town Governance Study Committee click volunteer application. If you prefer not to submit an online form, please prepare a letter of interest with your contact information and utilize the drop box at Town Hall (11 Town House Road), or send it in via postal mail to Town Manager, Town Hall, PO Box 378.