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Granby says 'yes' to Town Administrator

By Nate Luscombe

Staff Writer

GRANBY About 100 residents attended a special town meeting in Granby last week, and passed all articles on the warrant, including giving the Board of Selectmen the power to appoint a Town Administrator.

The meeting was called to act on the recommendations the Department of Revenue (DOR) made following a financial management review. After the report of the review was available, the town established a committee to go through the report and make recommendations based on the report.

Fewer than 10 residents voted against the town administrator. The town administrator was one of the major recommendations made by both the DOR and the review committee.

The DOR recommended a town administrator because "no one in Town Hall has the full-time authority to execute town goals or administer town personnel."

Selectman Bryan Hauschild echoed that sentiment during the meeting, adding that all three selectmen have full-time jobs outside of their duites as selectmen. Sometimes, situations come up that need a quick decision, and none of the selectmen is quickly available, he said. And a town administrator would have the authority to make decision on a day-to-day basis.

"[A town administrator] adds to morale, and helps with bad decision-making," Hauschild said. "Ask department heads what it's like [trying to get in touch with selectmen]. It's difficult to run a government on a part-time basis."

Resident Martin Merrill attempted to amend the article, by adding that selectmen would advertise for the position, and appoint a committee to choose the town administrator. Acting town attorney James Baker said he didn't believe that language could be added, which sparked discussion among residents.

Merrill withdrew his amendment during the discussion.

"I think selectmen know what we want," he said.

A heated discussion also revolved around the issue of switching the tax collector and treasurer positions to appointed ones rather than elected, as they are currently.

Selectman Wayne Tack explained that the article, in fact, would only place a question on the annual ballot asking residents if they wanted an appointed or elected tax collector or treasurer.

Votes to put both questions on the ballot came down to a hand count: the question regarding the tax collector passed 65-38, and the question regarding the treasurer passed 61-38.

Should the articles pass at the polls in May, the town administrator would appoint a candidate to the office, and selectmen will have 15 days to approve of the candidate.

Residents also approved a change in title for the tax collector to town collector. The change will allow the town collector to receive "all accounts due the town." The language will be inserted into the town bylaws.

Some confusion stemmed after the name change. Article 8 changed the title to "town collector," but Article 14 referred to an elected or appointed "tax collector." Baker explained that the Massachusetts General Laws grant no power to a "town collector," and therefore an amendment to change the wording was unnecessary.

The town voted to formalize the budget process, which was a recommendation from the DOR report. The town administrator would be the central figure in the process, providing revenue projections, along with budget guidelines and requests to department heads.

An amendment was added to make budget and other town meeting information available to the public at least two weeks prior to the meeting during which it will be discussed to allow voters to make more informed decisions.

Residents also voted to have all fees collected by town officers such as the town clerk to be submitted to the town treasurer in order to keep track of the fees paid.

Town Clerk Katherine Kelly-Regan gave an impassioned speech explaining that the fees are allowed to be kept by the town employee who administers the service.

Hauschild explained that the town wasn't trying to deny the officers their right to collect those fees, but merely to keep accurate records of all the fees paid to the town.

"They will still get that money," he said.

Residents also voted to establish stabilization funds to specifically address the funding of constructing and repairing municipal buildings, as well as funding capital equipment needs.