Town Government Study Committee

Minutes and Agendas

Listing files in 'Town Government Study Committee'

The Town Government Study Committee issued its original report and recommendations on June 5, 2007. The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted on December 17, 2007 to reconvene the TGSC to work with the Town Administrator to review progress towards and making any adjustments to those recommendations. The TGSC adopted its Final Progress Report on May 29, 2008 and presented that progress report to the Board of Selectmen on June 2, 2008.

Members: Harry Swift, Chairman; Joe Knox, Roland Gibson, Karen McNamara, Mike Knupp, Lynn Masson, Rod Stewart, Nate Long

TGSC Final Reports
Town Government Study Committee - May 29, 2008 - Final Progress Report - PDF file

Town Government Study Committee - June 5, 2007 - Final Report - PDF file

TGSC Original Recommendations [progress updates]

Littleton, Massachusetts’ Board of Selectmen (BOS) established the Town Government Study Committee (TGSC) in April 2006 for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of the Town’s organizational structure and management systems and to report to the Selectmen with recommendations for further study and/or change. Specifically the TGSC was charged by the BOS to: Study the town’s organizational structure; Review the efficacy of the current structure; Evaluate the duties & functions of individuals, boards and committees; Examine models of government in comparable area towns; Study management systems/major function areas: financial, budgeting, personnel & procurement, public safety, public works, health, planning; and Prepare a final report of findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

The Committee drew the following primary conclusions from the data collected during the course of their study: Sub-optimal town leadership has resulted in inefficient internal operations, and the erosion of public trust and confidence in Town Government; Strong, committed and loyal town employees and volunteers have helped “make up” for this situation; Leadership issues appear to stem from systemic and/or process-related inefficiencies; Town needs to implement changes to ensure effective management systems and processes irrespective of individuals in the roles; and Fewer interested candidates for, and increasing complexities associated with, the Tax Collector and Treasurer positions have resulted in unopposed elections for these positions for more than a decade.

In order to alleviate the issues it observed during its 14 month study, the Committee made the following recommendations:

1: Make the following currently-elected positions appointed: Treasurer, Tax Collector [Status: Questions 11 and 12 passed by 5/12/07 Annual Town Election voters, making Treasurer and Tax Collector appointed. Collector appointed 4/28/08; Treasurer appointed on 7/28/08.]

2a: Strengthen the Town Administrator (TA) position by implementing the following changes: The following positions would report directly to the TA: Highway Department Operations Manager, and Building Commissioner; and, if such positions are established, Assistant Town Administrator for Finance and Budget [AAFB], IT Director, Facilities Manager, and Human Resource Coordinator. The TA should be charged with ensuring that the performance review process is completed according to town policies. The TA would have a supervisory role with town house administrative personnel that are appointed by Boards, Committees, or Commissions (e.g. town planner, board of health executive assistant, conservation agent, assessor’s office staff, etc.). This would allow the TA to have input into performance reviews of these staff as well as coordinate facility hours, vacation coverage, etc. This role is intended to augment, not supercede the authority of the hiring board. [Status: Town Administrator by-law passed by 5/5/07 ATM; approved by the Attorney General under MGL C.40,§32, on 3/17/08. TA by-law amendments passed by 5/4/09 ATM; approved by the AG on 11/5/09. Town Administrator and Personnel Board adopted performance appraisal system. TA by-law amended to add as TA appointments: LCTV Executive Director (2012) and Director of Elder & Human Services subject to Council on Aging approval per MOA (2013).  TA by-law amended (2016) to split AAFB duties between two positions: an Assistant Town Administrator (ATA) and a Director of Finance & Budget (DFB)]

2b: Create a Department of Finance, to be managed by a newly created position of Assistant Town Administrator for Finance and Budget. Either the accountant or the treasurer may staff this position (simultaneously with their other role). The following positions would report to this newly created role: treasurer or accountant (whichever function is not serving in the Assistant Town Administrator role), tax collector, chief assessor, and treasurer. The Assistant Town Administrator for Finance and Budget (AAFB) would have responsibility for coordinating and driving the budgeting process through interfacing with the Town Administrator; Board of Selectmen; the Finance Committee; and the town’s department heads, boards, and committees. [Status: Question 10 passed by 5/12/07 Election voters, authorizing consolidated finance department. Department of Finance & Budget by-law passed by 5/5/07 ATM approved by the Attorney General under MGL C.40,§32, on 3/17/08. Town Accountant was designated as AAFB by the Board of Selectmen on 7/9/07. Nov. 2016 by-law amendment changed all references to “Assistant Town Administrator for Finance and Budget” (AAFB) to “Director of Finance and Budget” (DFB).]

3: The Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee, and the Town Administrator should participate in appropriate leadership training. Once current members have participated, all newly elected or appointed persons should be required to participate in such training.

4: Appoint a town-wide IT Coordinator for the IT function at and between the light and water departments, schools, town house, police, fire, etc.). This position would report directly to the Town Administrator

5: Establish a central facilities management function to manage the town’s physical plant (including schools, town house, police, fire, etc.). This position would report directly to the Town Administrator.[Status: Selectmen tasked Permanent Municipal Building Committee to undertake joint municipal-school facility assessment study with funding from 11/14/12 STM and 5/2/11 ATM]

6: Develop policies to ensure regular communications between boards, departments, employees and citizens. Such policies could consist of (but not necessarily be limited to) establishing the following regularly-scheduled meetings (frequency to be determined): Meetings attended by all town boards, committees, and/or commissions (posted, open, public meeting); Meetings of those department heads reporting to the Assistant TA for Finance and Budget; Meetings of those department heads reporting to the TA; Meetings of TA and other functional, non-TA reporting departments; “All hands” meetings for all town-employed staff. [Status: Town Administrator instituted monthly department head meetings regularly scheduled for the first Tuesday at 1:30 pm.]

7: All town boards that deal with properties and permitting should have access to, and utilize the same software for tracking property specific data (lot size, building parameters, actual number of bedrooms, permitted bedrooms, deed restrictions relative to septic permit, etc.).

8: In order to provide better service to the public, the town should provide a systematic checklist/flowchart of permits required for various activities. The Town Planner/Permit Coordinator should be the “first stop” for permit-related inquiries, and should assist people in better understanding the full permitting process and guiding their efforts. [Status: State's Interagency Permitting Board voted 12/13/07 to fund Town's grant application to implement expedited permitting. MAPC consultant hired 1/7/08 to work with local regulatory boards and departments winter/spring 2008. Board of Selectmen voted 2/26/08 to designate Town Planner/Permit Coordinator as the single municipal point of contact for streamlined permitting under MGL C.43D.]

9: Establish an HR [human resources] coordination function (by assigning this role to an existing manager) to provide consistency in pay, benefits and personnel management. This responsibility would report to the TA, and sit on and work closely with the town’s Personnel Committee. [Status: HR function assigned to Finance Department - Assistant Treasurer and HR Administration]

10: Reconfigure the layout of the Town Hall to enable more effective interaction among similar departments (finance, permitting, etc.), and to improve service to the public. [Status: Funding approved by 11/5/07 Special Town Meeting for reconfiguration of second and third floors of Town Hall for finance and regulatory offices, respectively, while freeing up additional space for Council on Aging. Project completed 2008.]

11: Improve town website function by: Mandating that all Boards submit final minutes for posting on the town’s website within one week of finalization; Mandating that the centralized calendar on the town’s website be updated with posted meeting dates, etc.; Assigning to one person the responsibility for uploading web update information provided by Boards, etc.; Ensure that the uploading/updating is completed on a timely basis. [Status: New web site launched in November 2007. Common Caucus Massachusetts presented E-Government Awards on 3/18/08 and 3/19/09. Training provided for Town staff.]

12: Upgrade the communication system (telephone, email, voicemail, data) and coordinate town wide [Status: LELWD-led effort implemented to upgrade all municipal-owned buildings to IP telephony.]

13: Evaluate the potential benefits of consistent (i.e. strong or weak) police and fire department structure and reporting relationship. [Status: "strong police chief" article passed by 5/5/07 Annual Town Meeting]

14: Develop and provide to incoming board/commission/committee members and new town employees an operational guide for their role in town government.

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