By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Selectboard held a meeting with Town Administrator Mark Rees on Saturday, 10/1, for the singular purpose of setting goals and a vision for the town. The session concentrated on defining a set of broad goals that would organize the more detailed needs of the town.
The goal setting session lays the foundation of the policies that the Selectboard is responsible for setting as defined by the new Town Administrator form of government that was adopted last year.
Mr. Rees is the town’s first TA.
It will be up to him to communicate those broader goals to the various department heads and work with them towards achieving the goals.
The board first identified areas of concern and areas of strengths for the down. Then the board set about a dozen goals that those concerns and strengths fall under.
For example: The town’s desire to see all the empty storefronts filled, falls under the larger goal of economic development and diversifying the tax base.
Selectboard member Bob Espindola had a list of the town’s 10 largest taxpayers, saying that the town is vulnerable if anything happens to a few of those big companies.
“The goal is to diversify the tax base,” he said.
Mr. Rees’s identified a goal of creating a huma resources operation that will enhance employee productivity, create an atmosphere of mutual respect and ensure competitive wages and accountability.
A recurring theme was communication, with both government and the public, and citizen engagement, i.e., getting more people involved.
Related to that is a goal of developing policies and procedures that will provide direction, guidance and education to volunteers who serve on the various boards and committees.
“So they know what they’re doing and we agree with it,” said Selectboard member Bob Espindola.
That goal would also make it easier for people to become involved because they would be able to see what each board is responsible for.
The possibility of expanding the senior center building, an idea raised by Selectboard Chairperson Charles Murphy, falls under the larger goals of completing the Master Plan and its study of the town’s changing demographics, and also the studying the town’s facilities.
The town’s infrastructure and capital planning also kept cropping up in various categories, prompting a goal of identifying grant opportunities, all under the wider goal of creating financial stability.
“That’s free money,” said Mr. Espindola, who has always encouraged the pursuit of grant opportunities.
Selectboard member Dan Freitas made a point of noting that the goals need to get to the employees, too, not just the department heads.
The board also discussed the drug epidemic, putting it under the larger goal of educating the public on health and wellness, with an “initial priority” on opioid addiction.
Initially identified under “outside influences,” the drug problem, said Mr. Freitas, is “not an outside influence. It’s in our community.”
Mr. Freitas also said he would like to see employees in the various departments have at least an outline of the process for permitting and other procedures in town. He said people will often go to the public works department and ask about something that they need to go to town hall for, but they only know of one place to start.
He said town employees of all departments should have at least a list or some other guideline to be able to direct people to the right place.
“It’ shouldn’t be ‘it’s not my job.’ It should be I’m going to get you an answer,” said Mr. Freitas.
That seemed to fall under the goals of civic education and recruitment, said Mr. Rees. And ties into the goals of a better complaint process and ways for people to communicate back to the town, too.
“So it’s a whole gamut of things,” said Mr. Rees, adding that overall role of the technological improvements is to enhance civic engagement. “So people feel tied to the community.”
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