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The Select Board at its March 13 meeting completed round three of the annual process of reviewing articles to be discussed and voted on at Town Meeting this spring.

It reviewed five, and all were supported.

Board recommends town clerk be appointed position

The Select Board has unanimously supported converting the position of town clerk from elected to appointed (Article 13) at its March 13 meeting.

“I support this article as someone who has to get things done with different departments, and the town clerk is a very important administrative position," said Town Manager Sandy Pooler. "I do not see this as a political position; the town clerk should be a professional that town people can go to. Many town department heads have incredible responsibilities, none of whom are elected."

Patricia Muldoon, Arlington’s president of the League of Women Voters, said the Arlington league has supported the idea of an appointed town clerk for as long as they’ve been here, more than 50 years. “From a practical and policy perspective, this policy makes all the sense in the world.”

Board member John Hurd agreed: “The town clerk, like the treasurer, is a professional position.” 

Board member Eric Helmuth said that appointed clerks are more common in similarly sized communities. “The job is now incredibly professionalized, and this is a simple matter of modernization. Plus I’d like to be able to recruit more broadly than in just Arlington.”

Board member Steve DeCourcey, who also expressed support, said the town clerk is Arlington’s last remaining elected position that’s a full-time job.

“All the reasons for having it appointed are solid, and it’s better for employees because they have protections,” said board Chair Len Diggins.

The board also voted on three other warrant articles. To download counsels' memo for all four articles, click here >>   

Board favors special legislation for town manager appointment 

The board supports special legislation to amend the Town Manager Act in the event of a vacancy. This would revise the appointment term of the town manager, a temporary manager or a manger for the unexpired term (Article 16). The vote was 4-0 (Helmuth recused because of his legislative work).

Town Counsel Doug Heim said, “The Select Board faced the unanticipated resignation of the former town manager. Although the town manager’s contract has a term of three years, the town cannot force someone to work for the entire three years.”

In a memo to the Select Board, Heim wrote that when such a vacancy occurs, the board can be in a difficult position of having to quickly appoint a manger for the balance of the unexpired term. “In some instances, the board may wish to take more than 90 days to appoint a successor without having to appoint a town officer as acting manager. In others, either a candidate or the board may wish to have an appointment for less than the full unexpired term.”

Heim further explained that a potential solution is to give the board (and town officers) more flexibility for a vacancy-driven appointment of a new manager candidate, and a better-defined appointment for an acting manager within 90 days if appointing a new manager is impracticle.

Board approves eliminating Town Meeting stenographic record 

The board unanimously approved amending the town bylaws to remove the requirement to generate a stenographic record of Town Meeting proceedings (Article 9).

Pooler explained: “This article eliminates the bylaw article that we require a stenographer to make a transcript of Town Meeting. It’s no longer necessary to generate transcripts because we record all Town Meetings on ACMi, and have access to software that creates a written transcript from the verbal transcript. This saves us money; we spent between $4,000 and $13,000 on stenographers in the past few years."

DeCourcey said, “Given what we have with technology, this makes sense.”

Board member Diane Mahon, who works as a court stenographer, concurred. “It’s important to have a written record, but we don’t need to rely on a stenographer at every meeting.”

Carl Wagner, a Precinct 15 Town Meeting member, agreed that it’s “a great idea to use automation as much as possible.”

Board favors extended producer responsibility legislation

The board backed advocacy by the Zero Waste Arlington Committee to support extended producer responsibility and bottle-bill legislation at the state level (Article 64). The vote was 3-0-1 (Hurd, DeCourcey, Mahon in favor; Diggins abstained; Helmuth recused because of his legislative work).

Zero Waste Arlington Committee member Scott Mullen asked the board to approve work they’re doing for Arlington and to be involved in any legislative action. 

“This is the first time we’re getting involved in the legislative cycle. “We’re coordinating with other committees in other towns, to make sure things get done, which signals our values as a town. Waste reduction is a noble and urgent pursuit. We’re using this article to educate, effect change and take action,” said Mullen.

Article 20  (Acceptance of Legislation / OPEB Trust Funds) was approved. OPEB stands for Other Post-Emplpyment Benefits.

All of these articles were supported

Memo about the following articles >>

Article 6      Bylaw Amendment/Conversion of Gas Station Dispensing Pumps to Self Service Operation

Article 7      Bylaw Amendment/Parking Disclosure Requirement

Article 8      Bylaw Amendment / Medical Anti-Discrimination Bylaw

Article 11    Vote/Establishment of Civic Participation Study Group

Article 18    Special Legislation/Police Officer Age Waiver James M. Looney

Article 19    Special Legislation/Repeal MBTA Prohibition

Article 63    Resolution/File and Accept Grants with and from EOEEA for Land and Water Conversion Fund Grant Program

Article 65    Resolution / My Body My Choice Resolution

Article 66    Resolution/Improve MBTA Service

Article 67    Resolution/Affordable Housing Overlay

Article 68    Resolution/In-State Tuition 

Article 69    Resolution / Change State Flag & Seal  

Watch the March 13 meeting on ACMi:

See the agenda documents for all new articles considered March 13 >>


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Friday, March 24, 2023.

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