December 27 2017

Selectmen Expand Government Review Committee

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen are still seeking volunteers to participate in a Government Review Committee and recently upped the number of “members at large” it will have.


As reported on BNEWS, during its November 15 meeting the board agreed to appoint a committee to conduct a review of Burlington's current municipal government structure to determine if change is needed in order to make the operation more effective and efficient.

“The current government was created through special legislation in 1970,” a notice about the committee states. “Burlington has a representative Town Meeting form of government with a five-member Board of Selectmen acting as the chief elected official. The Town elects a Town Moderator, Treasurer/Collector, Town Clerk, Planning Board, Board of Health, Board of Assessors, Recreation Commission, Library Trustees, Constables, School Committee and regional school committee representatives.”

“The Selectmen's departments are managed day-to-day by an appointed Town Administrator who also has financial and personnel responsibilities across the organization,” the release continues. “The elected boards appoint their own staff within their departments. There are a number of committees appointed by the Town Moderator and Town Administrator who assist in the functioning of the municipal government.”

The new committee looking at the structure of the town government was first suggested by Town Meeting member and former Board of Selectmen member Gary Gianino. He was at the July meeting and suggested the selectmen at least look into the possibility of forming the committee, saying that now that the Master Plan review is well underway, it was the right time.


The Board of Selectmen agreed to consider the proposal and formed a subcommittee made up of members Robert Hogan and Mike Runyan. On November 15 those members recommended the committee be formed.


During its meeting last week members discussed the current status of the committee. Hogan said they have started to hear from people interested in joining. He also said he has heard from people who do not like the idea at all.


“I’m already hearing that some people are against this,” he said. “I think that is short-sighted. When the charter was written 47 years ago we were a small town with $20 million budget and now we are bigger and have a budget over $100 million. I think we should not give voters short shrift.”


Hogan also said that if the committee does recommend changes the decision to adopt them or not should be left to voters.  


“I also think if the committee finds changes should be made, we should take it directly to the voters,” he said. “We ask them to vote for the people to fill these positions so I think they should vote on any changes as well.”


Runyan said he agreed and also recommended the committee, currently set to have seven members, should also have two alternates. After some discussion it was suggested that rather than having alternates, the committee should have four “at large” members for a total of nine people all told.


“I also think they should be full-time members,” Chairman Chris Hartling said of the proposed additional two members. “For something this important we want as many diverse opinions as possible.”


If anyone is interested in being considered for appointment, complete the application on the following here. In the comment section near the bottom, state that you are applying for the Government Review Committee.

You may mail the completed application to Betty McDonough, Office Manager, Selectmen's Office, Town Hall, 29 Center Street, Burlington, MA 01803 or email the application to:


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