Remote Local Government Efficiency Task Force Meeting Scheduled – June 29, 2020

By S.D. Plissken | June 29, 2020

The Local Government Efficiency Task Force announced that its inaugural quasi-public meeting will be held today at 6:00 PM.

Its published agenda prefixed its title with the adjective “Remote,” which is meant apparently to signify a “public” meeting under the Governor’s Covid-19 workaround of closed meetings, without any public comment at all, that are “public” only in the sense that they are broadcast to the public or that the public may listen by telephone. Presumably, it is not intended to signify a remote local meeting, which would be to pile on another oxymoron. (The original one having been “government efficiency” or “local government efficiency”).

This new “task force” was initially identified also as an “independent” committee, which it would not be, – even in government speak – if constituted as discussed previously. An actual independent committee would be one composed mostly – if not entirely – of members who are not Town officials or apparatchiks.

A “Joint” committee would be one whose members are drawn from several different bodies or authorities, such as from the Board of Selectmen and School Board. A “Select” or “Special” committee is one appointed for a defined and limited time period for a particular purpose only. This might be termed alternatively an “Ad Hoc” (Latin for “to this” or “for this” purpose) committee.

The time period put forward for this Local Government Efficiency Task Force to fulfill its purpose has been estimated at twelve to eighteen months, or even longer, i.e., well after the current budget process, well after the next election, and perhaps even after the next budgeting process. It is truly amazing how these things “work.”

It would seem that those seeking tax reductions as precipitate as the tax increases have been might have to look elsewhere.

The Task Force’s agenda has six main topics: [1)] Introductions and Statements of Individual Goals, 2) Discussion of Ideas and Approaches, 3) Revenue / Tax Base Growth and Diversification, [4)] Operational Efficiencies, [5)] Organization, and [6)] Other Business.

Introductions and Statements of Individual Goals. In which we meet the members.

Discussion of Ideas and Approaches. In which we might hear of their general approach and their initial thoughts. I had once a boss that explained that consultants mostly return and support what management asked them to find at the outset. And that lies in the questions being asked below.

Revenue / Tax Base Growth and Diversification. a) What grows the tax base? b) What kinds of impacts do different types of growth have on the community? c) What opportunities do we have to create revenue brainstorming session (additional Solar Panel Farm, leasing of town facilities, advertising revenue possibilities), d. Other Ideas and Suggestions.

The questions all suggest that the Town government hopes still to continue merrily along at current or even larger levels, but that someone else might be found to foot the ever-increasing bill.

The questions do suggest some dim awareness that regulatory restrictions have hampered growth and, consequently, tax revenues. In this, the task force seems to have identified already the well-known Kindergarten principle: don’t hit people and don’t take their stuff. Regrettably, they seem to have taken away the wrong lesson. They hope to find and take more stuff.

They do not seem to consider “growth” to be a concern of property owners, as such, but a “communal” one. One supposes that they might next to be speaking of taxes as an “investment.”

Operational Efficiencies. a) What ideas do you have that might increase efficiencies? [E.g.,] Energy Conservation, Cooperative purchasing with school, regionally, Are there opportunities to combine departments / functions?, Are there other opportunities to regionalize?

It is better late than never to eliminate duplication, but it has been inexplicable that it has taken so long. There is an organizational efficiency that taxpayers should consider. Why would one ever establish, depend, or expand upon an organization that spends first and considers organizational efficiencies last?

Organization. a) Election of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary; b) Review of and proposed amendments to Task Force By-laws (you are a subcommittee of the Board of Selectmen, so these are samples – any by-laws ultimately would need approval by the Select Board); c) Do you want to put together subcommittees for the areas Identified Above?

Strictly speaking, a subcommittee of the BOS would be composed entirely of members of the parent committee, i.e. the Board of Selectmen.

Well, we shall see, will we not?


We always carry out by committee anything in which any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist.  – Frank Moore Colby


References:

Town of Milton. (2020, June 26). Remote Local Government Efficiency Task Force Agenda, June 29, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/events/06-29-2020_et_agenda.pdf

Author: S.D. Plissken

I thought he'd be taller.

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