2006-06-15 / News

Council to review operations of all town committees

By Dotti Farrington

The Town Council Monday decided to review operations of all town committees it appoints as a result of discussions about frequent absences reported some weeks ago by Emmet Turley, chairman of the Town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee.

Turley asked the councilors to replace two committee members due to their frequent absence from meetings this year.

Town Solicitor J. William W. Harsch said the council has the authority to remove any of its appointees, and he suggested removal could best be achieved by "tactful and workable rules about when an appointee can be deemed as having resigned via lack of attendance." The council "has the right to appoint and to remove members subject to conditions to be enforced," Harsch said.

The councilors expressed reluctance to remove appointees, especially because most, if not all, had provided valuable volunteer service regardless of reports of some attendance problems. The councilors said they usually weighed attendance records as part of their appointment process.

Harsch said that attendance problems that hamper effective committee work, as reported by Turley, were appropriate for consideration and review. The councilors discussed their awareness that other committees also have attendance problems. They said problems probably should be evaluated case by case, but then they decided they would review the mandates, operations, and attendance of all town committees, based on data to be gathered by Town Clerk Arlene Petit, in late July or early August.

They said committee assignments and operations should be reviewed at least annually, regardless of reports of absences or problems.

Petit noted that she had advised Turley that a committee chairman can suggest that an appointee submit a letter of resignation to the council, but the committee itself or its chairman has no authority to remove panel members.

Councilman William Kelly said poor attendance wastes the time of other committee members and affects the ability of committees to act. Councilor Barbara Szepatowski called for clear and tactful rules in such situations.

They indicated that other committees also have had concerns about attendance from time to time.

Last month, Turley reported that Frank Andres and Matthew Largess are very knowledgeable and valuable members, but because of their absences, the committee had not had a quorum and thus has been unable to take needed actions. Turley sent the

Town Council copies of letters he sent to the two tree committee members in which he praised their work when they participated, but expressed concerns about the committee not being able to conduct business without a quorum present.

The committee consists of seven members, with four needed at a meeting to make a quorum.

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