FARMINGTON — Selectmen encouraged each other to alert the public head of time about as many of the expected board meeting topics as possible, in a Tuesday night discussion prompted by a selectman suggesting a first-ever contract for town manager under “other business.”
At board meetings, the agenda includes specific items that change each week, and also traditionally includes the other business agenda item as well, with no individual topics listed under that category.
The agenda is posted online for the public to read before the biweekly business meetings and it is sent to local news agencies.
Town Manager Richard Davis said he considers the topic of other business to be a time for non-substantive topics to be brought up for discussion.
“Because the public has the right to know what is being discussed on the agenda,” he said.
Selectman Josh Bell, who brought up the topic of a manager contract, said that he understood what the board members were saying, but noted that he had not expected the board to take any action on the measure, and was only initially mentioning the idea.
Davis has never had a contract with the town, either to specify his work responsibilities or set his financial compensation. The board members plan to consider the topic and revisit the discussion at a later meeting.
Bell said he wouldn’t want to create a formal procedure for what can be mentioned under other business because, as he was told during training with the Maine Municipal Association, the agenda item of other business is a good catch-all to make sure all issues are presented at meetings.
“I wouldn’t want to tie up anyone’s hands on the board,” he said.
Chairman Ryan Morgan said he understood where Bell was coming from, and that some topics are last minute or are only just thought of at the meeting.
He also said that it is good practice to list as many of the topics the board plan to discuss ahead of time, because residents are known to read the agendas to keep up with current issues.
“There’s a lot of people that will reach out to you and give you their input,” said Morgan.
He said members should send topics for discussion to him and he would pass them on to Davis to be placed on the agenda. Davis said he also encouraged members of the board to stop in and see him any time to talk about issues or ideas.
Selectman Stephan Bunker, who had asked to clarify what counts as other business, said that he was not offended by the topic of a town manager contract or Bell bringing it up in other business, but said he wanted to try to announce as much ahead of time in the future.
He said that along with notifying the press and public about issues to be discussed, it gives Davis a heads up to prepare on topics that might deal specifically with his role.
“It gives him a chance to be knowledgeable on the topic,” he said.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 | firstname.lastname@example.org |