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Town Seal
Charter Commission Minutes 1/21/10
Jan.21, 2010 charter commission minutes
Submitted by Stephanie Grinnell

I. Call to order 6:33 p.m. Present are Chairman Andy Townsend, Vice-Chairman Dianne Senechal, Selectman Dan Collomy, Judy Sjulander, May Schumacher, Jennifer Barschdorf and Larry Miller. Absent were David Dunn and Brent Havu

II. John Myers* 6:30
        Myers is employed by the town of Buxton as town clerk, he has worked for the town since 1986. His responsibilities include town clerk duties, deputy to most town hall positions, currently filling in as town treasurer, oversees business office staff members including motor vehicles and tax collection. Myers said there are about eight full-time town employees. Town clerk is an elected position.

Question and answer summary:
Myers said he is opposed to having an appointed rather than elected town clerk because if the town went to a town manager, there would be nobody placed by the people. All towns have town clerks, it is required by statute. Town manager can hold that title, statute does not state town clerk has to be elected.

The commission discussed the merits of an appointed versus elected town clerk. Myers said it is possible for him to oppose selectmen now if needed and said he does not feel opposing a town manager would be different.

Myers said town meeting participation in Buxton is typical, as are empty spaces on ballots for town committees and commissions.  

Myers submitted notes defining what works in Buxton and what could be improved:
        Areas currently good:
        -An environment that understands change can be OK
        -Training is not discouraged
        -An open door policy, normally accessible
        -Departments work together when needed
        -The budget committee process

        Areas that could be improved:
        -Planning for the future/a need for more planning and research; for example, the offer to turn the Hanson School over to the town
        -There is a need for someone to set and work towards long term goals. Almost all energy is being spent on putting out current/new fires and not working of future goals
        -There is a need for someone to coordinate issues
        -Someone that knows the answer to personnel issues and can offer personnel management
        -A need for issues to be more consistent
        -Someone that is impartial and without a history
        -Improved communications
        -Improved employee moral; employees thoughts valued
        -Quicker response to questions/issues

Myers stressed his feeling of the importance of the budget committee process.

Myers explained the need for consistency due to the turnover of selectmen entering office following elections having different goals but said if town managers turned over, there would be the same issue.

III. Approval of minutes
Unanimous; revise to reflect Waterboro town administrator has no secretary.
IV. Public comments
V Review of correspondence
VI. Open issues
  • Survey results
The commission discussed results of the public surveys returned. 338*** surveys were returned. Results reflected less than half of respondents indicated a town manager or other change in form of government may be warranted; of those who indicated issues with the current government did not suggest changes; most respondents indicated they would like to see town meeting continue. The commission indicated the number rating system was misunderstood based on ratings versus comments. Respondents mostly have lived in town more than 11 years.

The commission indicated the need for additional public input, particularly at meetings, and requested public speakers indicate reasons for their opinions not just tell the commission there needs to be change.

  • Other open business
-Kennebunk Town Manager Barry Tibbetts scheduled next week at 6:30 p.m., as well as Buxton Selectmen at 7:20 p.m.
-The commission discussed the need for a public hearing about the charter.
The discussion about whether or not there should be a hearing before there is a draft of changes to the charter did not result in a decision. **
-The commission discussed other people to speak to about having a town manager, including a past manager who is no longer in that position as well as councilors/selectmen with experience with an alternative form of government.

The commission discussed additional meetings during colder weather and decided to add a meeting Feb. 18

VII. New business
  • Other new business
The commission discussed additional information regarding Waterboro’s budget, town report and salary.

VIII. Next meeting
- Charter commission meeting Jan. 28, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. with Kennebunk Town Manager Barry Tibbetts and Buxton Selectmen
- Charter commission meeting Feb. 11, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. with Ebin* Marsh, Standish/Gorham councilors
IX. Public comments
X. Adjournment at 7:35 p.m.

**Original minutes corrected per commission request to more accurately reflect meeting discussion.
*Original minutes incorrectly spelled John Myers and Ebin Marsh, corrected per commission request.
***Original minutes corrected to reflect 338 returned surveys rather than less than 400 per commission request.

Corrections submitted by Stephanie Grinnell Feb. 15, 2010.

Town of Buxton
  185 Portland Road, Buxton, ME 04093 (207) 929-5191
Town Office Hours: Mon, Tues, Thur, Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm & Wed: 11:30am - 7:30pm
For departmental office hours please visit that department's home page.