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CIC Seen as “Redundant” by Finance Committee

The chair and vice chair of the Finance Committee termed the Capital Improvement Committee (CIC) as being "redundant" during the Board of Selectmen's January 19 discussion of how well the two committees worked together. CIC Chair Gregory Johnson defended his committee as being "an extra check and balance on the whole process" of reviewing which capital spending requests should be funded each year.

Selectmen Chairman Brian Murray said he had asked the heads of both committees to meet with his board to discuss the progress of last year's suggestion by selectmen to have the two boards work together to minimize the number of presentations a department head needed to make to them.

Johnson said working with the Finance Committee was a positive experience in terms of sharing information and looking at things from a different perspective. "We're on a parallel course," he said. At the last Town Meeting, though, there was a problem with one department head not getting information to the CIC, which resulted in having to re-do its report at the last minute, Johnson said.

Marc Schaen, Finance Committee chair, said his board has tried to work with the CIC for many years and had originally looked to the other board for guidance. "It never seemed to work out," he commented. So, five years ago, the Finance Committee set up its own subcommittee to evaluate major spending requests and develop a five-year capital plan, he said. "We do all the work that the CIC was supposedly chartered to do," Schaen said. The Finance Committee gets its report out to Town Meeting Members two weeks in advance of each Town Meeting, he added.

"From my perspective and the Finance Committee's perspective, I think that the CIC is redundant at this time," Schaen said. The term "redundant" was echoed by Christopher Morin, vice chair of the Finance Committee.

Selectman William Buckley said the criticism he has heard about the CIC involved a hard-to-digest report and reports being delivered to Town Meeting Members on the night of the Town Meeting. He was reluctant to fill the two vacancies on the CIC until he could see if there were synergies developing between it and the Finance Committee. "That doesn't seem to be happening," he noted. "I'm looking for a process that goes beyond what exists today to get people information when they need it," Buckley said.

Johnson said that problems occur if a department head talks to the CIC late in the process, or doesn't talk to the CIC at all. "That's when the breakdown occurs most frequently," he said. "We have the same problem. It's rare," Schaen said, explaining that if that happens the Finance Committee leaves a page of information on each Town Meeting Member's chair.

Murray said the goal of the meeting was not to fault anyone, but rather "to determine the utility of the CIC."

Selectman William Kingkade said that – given his past experience as a member of the Finance Committee – he, too, would say the CIC is conducting a "redundant" process. Most town department heads feel that way as well, he added.


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