By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The Northborough Board of Selectmen (BOS) continued a discussion at its July 18 meeting regarding how the town’s police and fire departments report their day to day activities and performance.
“Back when the two chiefs of the police and fire departments reported to the selectmen, everyone knew each other and members of the BOS worked in town, people communicated regularly,” said William Pantazis, the board’s chair. “Now, Northborough is a $60 million corporation.”
Pantazis said he believed it was time to make a policy decision to turn over the reporting of day to day activities to Town Administrator John Coderre who would then also conduct evaluations.
“He would contact us when any issues come up and keep us in the loop,” Pantazis said. “Right now, we don’t really have contact on a daily or weekly basis with the chiefs.”
Selectman Jason Perreault said he was in agreement with this policy and said there was a time in the past that he felt he did not have enough information to make an informed review of a former police chief.
Selectman Leslie Rutan shared her concern as well, adding that she wants to know what is going on in their departments day to day, not just at evaluation time.
Selectman Jeff Amberson stated that the “town charter is clear, we are the reporting authority and that the fire and police departments work under the policy direction of the Board of Selectmen and the general administrative direction of the Town Administrator.”
Amberson added that he felt the issue should be discussed at Town Meeting since the charter was voted on by the town. Selectman Dawn Rand said she agreed with Perreault regarding the lack of information provided to the board, but disagreed with Amberson’s interpretation of the charter on whose role it is to do the reviews.
Coderre relayed that town legal counsel has approved the legality of the board to make the policy change without going before Town Meeting. He also agreed for the need for ongoing evaluations in an efficient manner. Rutan asked if this policy change was made could the board formally request a review in a year to see how it was working. Language to this effect was inserted into the policy. The motion was then passed, 4 to 1 with Amberson dissenting.