Of the 53 Articles planned for the Annual Town Meeting, 30 are expected to be general bylaw amendments. The Select Board heard updates on many of these proposals, and also held a public hearing on amendments to the salary administration bylaw, on Jan. 24.
Town Moderator Cathy Cordes and Jan Shepard, both members of the Charter and Bylaw Review Committee, presented the amendments.
While most articles went through without discussion, there was interest in further amending one of them to allow a possible “opt-out” of the annual town caucus. This would be done by replacing the current text of “shall” to “may,” allowing the Select Board to decide.
Cordes said while the change is possible, the Charter and Bylaw Review Committee did not suggest it. Shepard explained that this decision is based on clarity, and the change would create a new issue for the Select Board to review annually. The original purpose of the caucus is to promote running for office, Cordes said.
Select Board member Emily Mitchell questioned Cordes over the value of the town caucus. “It is both really democratic and profoundly undemocratic in different ways,” Mitchell said. Cordes held her ground and said that the Charter and Bylaw Review Committee “wants the caucus in the structure of the government.”
The majority of proposed amendments make purely grammatical changes, such as uniformity amongst grammar in town bylaws. One proposal ensures that the transition from Board of Selectmen to Select Board is consistent in the bylaws and charter.
“I know that bylaws and charter are not the sexiest part of town government, but it is one of the most meaningful,” Cordes joked preceding her remarks.
Colleen Doyle, Assistant Town Manager for Human Resources and Administration, presented updates on the salary administration plan bylaw with proposed amendments to the classification and wage schedule.
Proposed changes include a 2 percent pay raise, a percentage that Doyle said was based on the statistical average of salaries in the region. Doyle explained that recently there was a reclassification of salaries based on patterns in nearby towns. The town reviewed and revised some job descriptions.
Many of the bylaw changes reflect departmental changes over preceding years, including the addition of a social worker and an assistant town clerk. Doyle explained that the addition of the new assistant clerk was necessary due to workload and the need for a backup.