Saturday, February 20, 2010

Information from TGSC: The Town Manager

The proposed charters call for the appointment of a professional town manager, who, ”shall be a person of proven administrative ability, especially qualified by education and training with prior experience as a city or Town Manager or an assistant city or Town Manager or equivalent public or private sector level experience.

The appointing authority would be either the Board of Selectman (BoS) or the Town Council (TC), who would have the authority to hire and fire the town manager. The Town Manager's duties are the same under each charter. The major difference is that under the Open Town Meeting / Board of Selectman Charter, the town manager shares executive authority with the Board of Selectman, whereas under the Town Council Charter, the Town Council acts as the Legislative Branch and the Town Manager is the single chief administrative officer.

The town manager is responsible for conducting the daily affairs of the town. The town manager appoints all department heads with the ratification of the Board of Selectman or Town Council. The Town Manager also has the authority to fire the department heads he or she appoints. In other words, the Town Manager is given the authority to build his or her team, and part of the Town Manager's evaluation each year is based on how well they have built their team and how well that team functions. Note: the TM does not hire the individuals within departments; that authority is vested with each department head.

The Town Manager appoints all members to boards and committees. However, the Town Manager is required to form a citizens' advisory group to help recruit and evaluate potential members to the boards and committees. The Town Manager is also required to develop and publish written criteria for membership to the boards. The Town Manager is required to submit recommendations to the Board of Selectman or Town Council for ratification.

The Town Manager coordinates the activities of all departments and boards to ensure that the policies of the Board of Selectman or Town Council are adhered to. The Town Manager also recommends policy to the BoS/TC for their action, and once policy is made, carries it out. The Town Manager is there to help the department heads execute their duties and keep the BoS/TC informed as to what the department heads need to do their jobs.

The Town Manager is responsible for putting a financial team in place, preparing and submitting the annual budget by working with the department heads, financing committee, and the financial team. The Town Manager is responsible for developing recommendations for an employee compensation plan as well as personnel policies, contract negotiations, long range financial and capital planning. The Town Manager will also develop a system to preserve and publish financial information, so as to make government as transparent as possible.

In essence, the Town Manager is a facilitator, a coordinator, a leader, and a person with vision and ideas to make the town a better place for all. He or she is a professional who has clearly defined responsibilities and authority, and is held accountable through an annual evaluation process. He or she operates within a system of checks and balances and works to promote what is in the best interest of the residents of the town.

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