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Should Select Board Information Packets Be Available To The Public Prior to Meetings?

by Connie Sartini
Every Friday, members of the Select Board receive a packet from the Town Manager’s Office that contains information on all items that will be on their Monday evening agenda. This gives them the opportunity to review the materials, and prepare for the meeting.
     Recently, Select Board member Becky Pine has asked that the packets be made available to the public simultaneously so that they also may see in more detail the topics for the agenda.
     Town Manager Mark Haddad suggested to the Board that oftentimes there may be some small changes that come up after the packet is put together and distributed to the Board, and other times there are items removed, or others inserted. He said that his concern is that the public could end up with an outdated packet, when they were expecting it to be followed exactly as it was distributed.
     Selectman Josh Degen advised that he had had a couple of people speak to him about this issuesand he initially saw no reason not to do it. He said however, after hearing Haddad’s concerns he had changed his position.
     Colleague John Giger said, “We would have to freeze the packet when we put it out. There is no way to get word out to the public that something has changed, and this could hinder us in getting the best information when we get to a meeting. I am happy to have anyone call me if they see the agenda and have questions. I give them the answers that I have and caution them that it may change before the meeting.”
     Giger added, “Does the community want every committee to do this? This is a consideration that creates a considerable amount of work.”
     Selectman Degen saihe would like to see feedback on the proposal to distribute packets to anyone from the public and suggested that the Board wait and see what kinds of comments they get back.
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