Milton selectboard Oct. 5

Lou Mossey, vice chair of the Charter Review Committee, holds up a copy of the revised Milton town charter during the selectboard's meeting Oct. 5. The charter will be discussed by the board and then two to three public hearings will be scheduled for the public to provide feedback. 

Despite missing the presence of two of its members, the Milton selectboard met Oct. 5 to keep the ball moving on several town committee-related agenda items. 

Chair John Palasik was absent due to an unexpected circumstance. Michael Morgan participated in about half of the meeting via phone. Clerk Chris Taylor filled in as chair for the evening and members Brenda Steady and John Fitzgerald were present. 

Here's what else you need to know: 

1.   The board unanimously appointed members to the Recreation and Conservation Commissions.

Ryan Bushey, a lifelong Milton resident, was appointed to the Recreation Commission for the first time and for a three-year term. Bushey is a teacher at Milton high school and said he is interested in increasing and maintaining Milton’s trail networks.

Steady said she’s known Bushey for many years and thinks he is the right person to fill the vacancy.

“When I saw your name, I thought who better?” she said.

Laurie DiCesare, who has been on the Conservation Commissions for almost 18 years, was unanimously reappointed for a four-year term. She currently serves as the board’s clerk and enjoys doing educational writing for the group.

“I love the educational part of this,” she said.

DiCesare showed the board several photos of plants and insects she’s recently seen along the Lamoille River Walk.

“Anybody with this much passion, I hope gets four more years,” Fitzgerald said. “Thank you for what you are doing.”

2.   Members of the Charter Review Committee said the town’s new charter is ready for selectboard and community feedback.

Since February, the Charter Review Committee has been meeting periodically to review the town charter, a document that defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of Milton’s government.

The town charter is edited every so often to reflect changes in demographics and shifting needs of the community.

Selectboard members Steady and Taylor were on the committee. It also included members of the school board and other community members.

Ron Hubert, the committee’s chair, and Lou Mossey, vice chair, told the selectboard Monday the committee is recommending a few changes to Milton’s charter.

The most contentious revisions, Hubert said, include the creation of a 1 percent sales tax, the rule that community members can only run for one town position at a time and the addition of a deadline for the town audit.

“That 1 percent sales tax could pay for a lot of things,” Steady said.

These revisions will be discussed by the selectboard at a future meeting. Afterwards, the town will hold two to three public hearings in order to hear the public’s opinion.

A final town charter will then be put up for a vote at Town Meeting in March 2021. Hubert said the Charter Review Committee agreed the creation of a 1 percent sales tax would be a separate ballot item.

“You want the bulk of the good work to go through,” Hubert said. “Let anything contentious stand on its own.”

Taylor gave a special notice of thanks to Mossey, who he said devoted extra hours outside of committee meetings to make sure everything went smoothly. Steady agreed.

“I want to make sure the public knows, Lou [Mossey] did all of the language behind the scenes,” she said.

3.   The selectboard will interview applicants for the new Police Advisory Committee Oct. 14.

As of the Oct. 2 deadline for applications, 15 Milton community members applied for the committee’s five spots. Once formed, the PAC will meet monthly to discuss racial and mental health issues, develop strategies and to increase transparency.

The committee won't have the power to investigate or review matters involving police personnel or criminal incidents. Instead, the PAC will act solely as a sounding board — providing suggestions, ideas and thoughts which Milton Police Chief Stephen Laroche will take back to the department and implement as he sees fit.

“Given that there are so many applicants, it’s going to be really challenging for the board to select the five,” Town Manager Don Turner said. “It’s exceptional that we have this much interest.”

Though Milton students were encouraged to apply, none have yet stepped up. It is now too late to apply, but Fitzgerald said the PAC’s meetings will be public, and therefore interested students should feel welcome to attend and participate.

All the applicants have been asked to write a short essay describing why they’d like to be on the committee. The selectboard will review these essays and then interview each candidates for next Wednesday.

Turner initially proposed each interview be 10 minutes long, but Fitzgerald said he thought each interview should be at least 15 minutes.

“We need to determine now: do we think 10 minutes with a candidate is enough?” he asked. “I don’t want to rush an interview.”

“Then let’s go 15,” Steady said.

All of the applicants will be asked the same questions during his or her interview, so the process will be as fair as possible, Turner said.

The five members of the PAC will be selected through a ranking process, rather than a vote. For example, applicants will be ranked based on how well the board thinks he or she will be an active listener, a team player and a direct communicator.

Applicants with the highest ranking will be selected to join the PAC. If there is a tie, Turner said tiebreaker interview or application will occur.

“Most importantly, we can’t thank these people that have applied enough,” Turner said. “Getting them involved in town government is so important, and I hope we can keep them involved."

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