Darien's Board of Selectmen recommends charter change to meet less often
The Board of Selectmen, Darien’s top elected board, has recommended an amendment to the town charter that would lower their required number of meetings. As it stands the Board of Selectmen is required to meet at least twice a month; the board is looking to change the requirement to just once per month, but remains to committed to meeting as often as new business is present.
Town Administrator Kate Buch recommended the change during an April 3 Board of Selectmen meeting. She and First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the board occasionally runs into situations where there are not enough pertinent agenda items to necessitate a meeting. The late summer months and school vacation weeks are often slow times for conducting business but the board is still bound to two meetings per month as per the charter.
“I believe this board will always meet when this board needs to meet because we are in favor of moving things along,” Stevenson said. “And when something comes along that needs action we meet and take action, we never defer.”
For the 2017 calendar year the board has also committed to not overlapping its meetings with the Representative Town Meeting, which is also held on Monday nights. Adding in holidays and snow emergencies, the selectmen has found themselves in some restrictive scheduling situations.
Approval from the RTM is necessary to update the charter, though the body has cancelled its own April meeting. Selectman Rob Richards said he wants the boards meetings to remain frequent in order to keep the public informed, but acknowledged that the twice-monthly requirement could be restraining.
“There’s so many times where it would be beneficial for us to be at an RTM meeting because there’s something on their agenda,” Selectman Susan Marks said during the April 3 meeting. “So we’re trying to fit in a meeting and we’re also trying to work around to work around the RTM… I’m certainly in favor of the flexibility.”
The board will also re-examine its policy of quarterly department head meetings. Board members explained that the town’s department heads turn in thorough reports prior to the meeting and often have little to add. Department heads are commonly requested to attend Board of Selectmen meetings when specific issues or questions arise and the board should continue that practice to maintain communication.
While the Board of Selectmen may soon be meeting less often, Stevenson said her office in Town Hall will remain open to those who need to reach out to the town’s leaders.