Ask your Town Manager a question and he will answer to the best of his ability!
Why did you change the way department heads report at the meetings? I always felt that Val F. stifled her department heads when she did not allow them to speak. After she left, the department heads starting giving their own reports. Not only were they informative, but they showed the intelligence of each person, and gave us confidence in their abilities. When you stifle your employees, you also give the impression that you are hiding something. Open and honest government will go along way in building trust with town members. No one can speak of their departments better then each head. They are there anyway, so let them speak. Thank You.
Thank you for using our forum. Its designed to specifically address topics such as yours and I will share with you councils intent behind the change in format.
Rationale: Council felt that our department reports initiated last year were precise and accurate but too detailed for the meetings. Council desires that department reports highlight major updates to significant “muscle movements” designed to give operational insight to what the town staff is primarily focused on. This view allows for council to ensure that our work efforts are aligned with their vision. The granularity of before became extraneous in meetings and began overshadowing the agenda items. Additionally, the department reports were absorbing too much time leaving little time for council to conduct important “resolution/ordinance” based activities. Council also felt that the department reports should be given by the town manager and that the department heads should be present to answer specific questions regarding topics only at request of council. This rationale is to regain fluidity of the meetings and to prevent council over-involvement into staff operations.
In small municipal government Councils are designed to set policy and staff is and should be autonomous when executing the policy set forth by council. In order to supplement the flow of information, our town council has introduced “council liaisons” to where each council member is assigned a department so that a council representative can understand the departments interworking’s and then relay back to council any prudent information.
I hope this explanation helps and I’m glad you chose to use the forum for your question(s). I hope that more citizens reach out so I can provide real answers to honest questions. I too believe in transparency and it my intent that this forum provides an area of open dialog.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Council meetings are designed to offer dialogue and transparency on specific issues that require some sort of action, like a policy change or new regulation. Each agenda is designed to follow certain rules of order and provide consistency to how we govern. The first several items on each agenda are there to ensure compliance with local and state code and don’t really take up too much time. Once those items are complete, at each regular meeting the town manager does provide a report which summarizes all projects in place. We believe each project, both those in progress and those we have just begun or have just completed, are all positive and provide for the health, safety and well-being of all of our citizens.