News Stories

Will Burlington’s Government Charter New Territory?

The Burlington Select Board wants to investigate ways the town can better streamline its services and cut down on the amount of duplicity committees in town might be experiencing.

Can this be done with the way the charter reads now, or will change need to come about?

That was part of the question at the Dec. 12 Select Board Meeting.

“The question really is if you want to change your government what kind of process do you need to go through,” said Town Counsel Lisa Mead of Mead, Talerman & Costa LLC.

At its last strategic meeting, the board discussed the results of the original Government Review Committee, with only one recommendation being taken up with the move and subsequent vote of the town to change the Treasurer/Tax Collector position from elected to appointed.

Select Board Chairman Nick Priest said there is a lot more in that report that is worth undertaking. But with the multitudes of committees and boards in town, it’s harder to find volunteers.

“One way to find more volunteers is to find less committees,” Priest said with a laugh.

According to Mead, who got some assistance from Town Clerk Amy Warfield on some historical facts about the town’s origin, the charter for the Town of Burlington was established in 1790 adopted by a Special Act.

The act is simple in its intent: to make the Town of Burlington run much like its surrounding neighbors.

Burlington was established as an open Town Meeting town, but through a Special Act in 1970, it became a representative Town Meeting .

The town can establish a Charter Commission or a Special Act, both of which have their own set of processes, she said.

“Those are the two ways you can change your government significantly,” Mead said.

Whichever direction the town takes, Select Board members agreed change could be effective.

“Sometimes it feels our government is very fractionalized, and I’d like to see anything we can do to make it more efficient or more effective,” said Select Board member Mike Espejo. “I would be all in favor of … (reinstituting) that committee, or some kind of committee, or even third-party to take a look at how we do things and if there are ways we can do things better.”

Board member Mike Runyan agrees with reconstituting a similar Government Review Committee.

Runyan was a member of the original committee. He said there were a number of areas that were identified by it that he believes warrant further review, with lots of duplicity in some areas of town government and departments, he said.

It seems some committees have the same goals, said James Tigges. He said maybe the solution is combining some of the them, but that would require studies.

“It looks like there is some overlap,” he said.

The discussion was tabled until the next meeting.