By Joseph Elie, Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Public Library hosted a “Get to Know Your Government” forum Oct. 19, which was touted as a way give citizens the opportunity to interact with their local elected and appointed officials.
Each official gave a brief overview of how he/she serves the town. Panelists included state Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, State Rep. Matthew Beaton, R-Shrewsbury, Board of Selectmen Chair James Kane, Selectman John Lebeaux, Finance Committee Chair Clare O”Connor, Town Moderator Christopher Mehne, Town Engineer John Perreault and Assistant to the Town Manager Thomas Gregory.
Kane noted that the primary function of the selectmen is to appoint the town manager and likened the board's responsibilities to that of directors of a $100 million company who oversee a top-notch chief executive officer, who, in turn, runs the day-to-day operations.
Clare O”Connor said the nine-member Finance Committee she chairs reviews the town's budget line items and provides the town manager and department heads with accounting advice. O”Connor said her committee is an advisory body and does not have authority over the budget.
As town moderator, Mehne said he is the presiding officer at all town meetings, in addition to the appointing officer for the Finance Committee, the Personnel Board, and the Lake Quinsigamond Commission.
Perreault noted as town engineer, he technically supports all civil engineering projects, public and private, in addition to providing staff support to the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, The Zoning Board of Appeals and other departments.
As the town's state representative, Beaton said he works to ensure that state agencies spend taxpayer dollars efficiently. Beaton sits on the Committee on Natural Resources, where he said he can make use of his background in environmental engineering.
Moore said his priority as a state senator is job creation. He noted that Massachusetts has improved its credit rating to AA+. The state's unemployment rate, now at 7.4 percent, is lower than the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, he added. Moore also serves as the chair of the Committee on Higher Education.