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Topsham selectmen to review government improvement report

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Topsham selectmen to review government improvement report

TOPSHAM — The Government Improvement Committee heard support for its work from the small crowd that attended a public input session Monday night, Chairman John Rensenbrink said.

After a year’s worth of work, the committee completed its draft report on ways to improve participation and attendance at town meetings. There are also recommendations for ordinances governing recall of elected municipal officials and a code of conduct for the Board of Selectmen and the town manager.

The committee’s 97-page report is online at topshammaine.com and can be read at the Topsham Public Library.

The audience for the most part commented on secondary matters related to the report – such as a grammatical change in the phrasing of the committee’s wording on the recall provision – rather than basic matters, Rensenbrink said Tuesday.

“It was a very good, convivial spirit (at the meeting),” he said. “And we’re looking forward now to finalizing the text, and then we’re going to present it to the Board of Selectmen.”

Rensenbrink expects the board to accept the report Thursday, Feb. 4.

A workshop may come out of that meeting, he said, adding that he hopes the board will help the improvement committee recommend ordinance changes to facilitate the establishment of a standing committee on Town Meeting, as well as changes related to recall and code of conduct.

“There will be time for public input throughout this process after the board has decided what it’s going to do, and (that would) lead to some warrant articles for the May Town Meeting,” Rensenbrink said.

The report also calls for:

• Creating a standing committee to aid in the publicity and logistics of issues related to Town Meeting.

• Distributing a voters guide to explain warrant articles.

• Establishing a “state of the town” presentation by the town manager.

• Findings of dates and times of meetings.

• Conceiving ideas on technological improvements that would allow people bound to their homes to participate.

• And continuing to have Town Meeting on a Wednesday evening, but beginning at 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.